Instagram Takeover: Sam Dean

Covering the Badwater 135

In this month’s Instagram Takeover we’re showcasing the work of outdoor photographer Sam Dean—@sdeanphotos. Sam got his start as a photojournalist with the Roanoke Times, but he says he has always gravitated toward the world of outdoor photography. His subjects include everything from whitewater kayakers and trail runners to stand up paddle boarders and fly fisherman, mainly focusing on Roanoke, Virginia and the surrounding mountains. We sat down with Sam to find out more about his passion for documenting Roanoke’s outdoor scene.

BRO: How did you get into photography?

SD: I was trained as a photojournalist at the University of Montana.  I went there to climb, tele, and fly fish and somehow managed to get a degree in journalism.

BRO: How long have you been shooting?

SD: Professionally, I guess about 20 years now.

BRO: Did you immediately gravitate to outdoor photography?

SD: I’ve spent my life traveling and much of my life sleeping on the ground outside, so anything outdoors is in my wheelhouse. But I was first a photojournalist and spent 13 years as a staff photographer for the Roanoke Times where I covered everything from daily life in the Roanoke Valley to war in Afghanistan.

BRO: Is there one particular outdoor activity that you like shooting over any other?

SD: I’d say right now it’s a tossup between fly fishing and running.  Don’t climb as much as I use to due to the fact that I’ve got a little guy, but now that he’s skiing and climbing, we’ll be getting more of that in.

BRO: If you could only choose one area in the Blue Ridge Mountains to hike and explore and photograph for the rest of your life what would it be?

SD: Grayson Highlands, it has amazing scenery, fishing, bouldering and hiking.

BRO: One piece of gear (minus your camera) you wouldn’t head into the field without?

SD: Headlamp. I think I read recently where a well-known outdoor photog said that “the best days always begin and end with headlamps.”

Screen Shot 2015-06-15 at 7.17.25 AMCyclists on the Blue Ridge Parkway


My wife, Niki, running on the Blue Ridge Parkway near out home in Roanoke as morning fog burns off.


Trail running at Mcafee Knob outside Roanoke, Va.


Relaxing after a paddle board session on a lake outside Roanoke, Va.


Screen Shot 2015-06-15 at 7.28.52 AMSnowboarding in North Carolina


Places to Go, Things to See: