Q&A: Portrait photographer Maria Sampaio shares some of her professional secrets | Lowcountry Parent

Maria Sampaio is the owner of Castelo Portrait Art in West Ashley. 

A special thanks to Maria Sampaio of casteloportraitart.com who shot this stunning fashion feature. We thought our readers might want to know a little bit more about her and her expertise. 

Q: How long have you been a portrait artist?

A: 14 years. But recently I named Castelo Portrait Art in honor of my late father, whose middle name was Castelo. Although my father did not know the first thing about art, he (along with my mother) were my biggest supporters. I miss him terribly, so I named my new art studio after him. Seeing his name on the front of my studio each day brings me a heightened sense of pride.

Q: When did you move to Charleston? Where were you a portrait artist before?

A: I owned and operated an amazing studio in Pittsburgh for 13 years and decided to sell my business and start over here in Charleston where the sun always shines and there is nothing to shovel.

Q: What inspired you to become a photographer?

A: I picked up a camera as a hobby just to get away from “life” a bit. I graduated Penn State University from the School of Engineering and did not enjoy the work. Once I picked up a camera it took 1.5 years for me to leave my job and become a full time artist. 

Q: What’s your goal when it comes to shooting your clients?

A: When creating portraits and paintings I want to convey who that person is in that moment — it’s a story — a story about them. Children are my favorite subjects. I love family portraits too … Having a family portrait in your home is extremely important because it gives children a sense of belonging to that family.

Q: What’s your favorite thing about being a photographer?

A: I love people. I love to get to know them, what they love, what they do and what makes them light up. I especially love children. Their innocence and ability to love and not judge others (as adults do) is by far the most beautiful thing about them. Children are pure love.

Q: What area of Charleston do you live?

My studio is in West Ashley but I built a house on Johns Island. I immediately fell in love with Johns Island the minute I drove in. I was in town for three days for work with no intentions of moving and left with land. A year later after driving back and forth once a month and operating both studios, I sold my studio in Pittsburgh and made the final move. It was the scariest and most exciting thing I’ve ever done.

Q: Are you a parent?

A: I am! I am the most blessed person I know! I have a 19-year-old son who is proudly serving this amazing country in the Air Force. Dylan is based in Salt Lake City, Utah, and works in cyber security. I also have an incredible daughter, Christina, who is 17 and about to graduate from high school in early December.

Q: What should parents look for in a photographer?

A: With the digital age and iPhones, we have a ton of pictures … this is without a shadow of a doubt the most photographed generation. Yet, I guarantee you they also will have nothing to show for it! Parents: Look for an artist who takes pride in what they create and the experience they provide you, an artist who believes in printing gorgeous imagery and preserving the art so that everyday, when you walk into your home and you see those gorgeous images, you are reminded of how blessed you are to be a parent and have that beautiful family!

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