The first time Samantha Wong’s name came into the conversation, someone described her as the “Flatlay Queen” – and that wouldn’t be far off from the truth. Having started her career as a prop stylist working on ad campaigns and print editorial, she launched her blog Sam is Home during her first job out of college in 2010 as she was looking for an outlet to channel her creativity. Today Sam is one of the most sought after content creators with clients such as Cartier, Ritz Carlton and Cathay Pacific, and regularly shares jaw-dropping pictures from around the world on her Instagram. We caught up her recently to talk tips on how to scout for the perfect shoot locations, people she looks up to and biggest misconceptions about life as a content creator.
What has been one of your favorite places to travel to and why?
Bali and India! Bali because I’ve been so many times and it has an incredible mix of resorts, beaches, jungle as well as the lifestyle stuff like beautiful Aussie cafes and indie clothing boutiques you can’t find anywhere else. In November, I visited India (specifically Jaipur via New Delhi) and it has a totally different aesthetic from most of the cities I’ve traveled to.
What do you think is the biggest misconceptions people have about your job?
That we’re having a fun and relaxing time. Most content creators are squeezing in as many locations and photo ops within a very small time frame. I work with many hotel and travel brands to create social media content for their own channels and it’s mostly about creating schedules and organizing products to shoot. Recently, I’ve described these as totally ‘out of body experiences’ where I may be on a beautiful hotel bed overlooking a city, but I feel like I’m viewing it from where the photographer is taking the picture.
When we are in Hong Kong my boyfriend (Victor, who is also a content creator) and my days tend to be filled with either working at a Starbucks (emails, creating quotes and following up). In the evening, after dinner, you can find us both on our computers editing and posting. We don’t turn on Netflix until 11pm!
How do you scout for good locations for pictures?
I mostly look on Instagram for photo spots. Most of the time I look for places that haven’t been featured yet or have been shot ‘poorly’ and try to plan how to create an image that looks good on my feed. Sometimes I take a popular spot and ‘brand it’ with my own stylistic elements and other times we just walk around a neighbourhood to explore and hopefully find some new locations to shoot.
I love that you share stories of the laborious behind-the-scene process behind every photo. What are some hilarious or memorable incidents?
From standing on chairs in cafes to just waiting around on a busy intersection for people to leave, most of the time I feel very embarrassed while I’m creating a photo because I know how ridiculous it looks and bystanders are judging. Recently I shot some images for a prestigious hotel brand: I was half naked in bed and there were three interns watching and sitting on the bed. They were supposed to oversee the shoot in case I needed additional props but I felt so awkward. The end results are meant to feel intimate and personal, but we’re very professional in how we handle each shoot and client.
What inspires you? How do you get inspired?
Hong Kong inspires me even though I have this love/hate relationship with it. I’ve accepted the fact that I will never 100% love the city but I’m trying to paint it in the best light possible by taking photos.
What advice would you give aspiring content creators?
Don’t do it for the likes, the fame or the fancy hotels. Do it because you love creating and sharing your own perspective on the world.
Who do you look up to and why?
Chriselle Lim — I really look up to women who are in the field but also manage to have a family.
What are places to go on your bucket list?
Sri Lanka! It’s one of those places that’s close enough to Hong Kong that I should do before I move (if ever). Otherwise I’d love to revisit Banff.
If you could invent one thing what would it be?
A teleportation machine that’d allow me to visit Toronto where my family is sans the dreary 16 hour flights and airport stops.