IN THE VALLEY OF THE MOON Sam Horine explores Jordan's otherworldly landscapes with his Leica Q

Sam Horine is a New York City-based photographer and educator. When he’s not in the big apple, Sam’s passion for exploration takes him all around the globe in search of new and exciting cultures. For his recent series commissioned by the Jordanian tourist board, Sam travelled to Jordan to document the Mars-like beauty of the Wadi Rum (The Valley of the Moon) and other well-known big screen locations such as Petra. We caught up with Sam after his travels to learn more about his series and his working relationship with the Leica Q.


Perhaps you could start off by telling us a little about how you first got into photography…

While primarily self-taught, I’ve always been interested in photography. I started off shooting film and then transitioned into digital as that became the standard. After college I moved to NYC and started documenting the city, shooting mostly graffiti and abandoned buildings for the first few years before moving in a more editorial direction to shoot the indie music scene in Brooklyn, as well as working for numerous publications shooting portraits, food and fashion.

Which photographers have had an influence upon your work?

It’s a long and diverse list for sure, but some of my favourites are Richard Avedon, Edward Burtynsky, James Nachtway, Helmut Newton, Ren Hang, Bruce Davidson and Philip-Lorca diCorcia.

It looks like you’ve visited just about every corner of the globe. What inspires you to travel?

I’ve been very lucky in that i’ve gotten to travel and work around the globe the past couple of years, meeting new people, experiencing new cultures and seeing new and amazing places. All these factors provide me with a constant source of motivation and inspiration to escape my comfort zone.

Do you prefer taking portrait or environment shots?

I like them both equally as they are both challenging in their own way. I like landscapes and cityscapes a lot as it really requires you to dial in and find an interesting facet, scene or light. With portraits, on the other hand, it’s about connecting with the subject. Naturally, this can be a far more intimate experience.

Your Jordan series depicted here contains both photographic styles. Why did you decide to travel to Jordan?

I was commissioned by the tourist board of Jordan to go and shoot a series there. Having seen countless images of Jordan such as the iconic Petra and Wadi Rum in films like ‘Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade’, I’ve always had an interest in the country and its potential for an interesting photo series. So when they invited me to come, I immediately took advantage of the opportunity.

What did you find especially exciting or unusual about shooting in Jordan?

Jordan is a wonderful place with a rich, fascinating history and beautiful people and landscapes. The most exciting thing for me, however, was the magical Wadi Rum desert, which basically looks exactly like Mars with its baron red landscape. In fact, they had just finished shooting a large part of the movie ‘The Martian’ out there when I arrived!   

Your Jordan series is shot exclusively in colour. What is it that draws you to the medium of colour photography?

Much like focus or composition, colour is another way to tell a story. With its rich golden desert hues and impressive landscapes, Jordan was quite possibly the perfect place for shooting in colour.

Which Leica camera were you shooting with? What lenses were you using? 

For this trip I was using the Leica Q with 28mm lens. This combination was great for capturing both wide landscapes as well as some more intimate street scenes you can see in the series.

How long has Leica played a role in your work?

I’m a relative newcomer to Leica. Although I’ve been an admirer of the brand for a long time, I’ve only begun to regularly shoot with Leica cameras in the past couple of years. Leica has always represented quality and precision for me – shooting with Leica gives me the confidence to focus on composition and storytelling safe in the knowledge that the camera can handle any situation I put it in. It’s a great feeling to have such a tool at your disposal.

In addition to photos from your world travels, your Instagram feed features many photos of New York. Has living in New York shaped your photographic style at all?

Of course, yes, living here in the city is a huge influence on my work as NYC is always changing. Between the different seasons and the ever-present construction, NYC is a place that is eternally reinventing itself. And of course, as a cultural mecca it’s always inspirational to be among so many talented peers who are always pushing you to make stronger work.

If you could offer one piece of advice for other photographers interested in travel what would it be?

Sometimes it’s best to put the camera down and enjoy your surroundings. For example, for the recent solar eclipse, I promised myself that I’d do my best to experience the moment of totality. Something like that is far more magical without seeing it through a viewfinder.


You can see more of Sam Horine’s photography at his website and his Instagram

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Pete Littlewood


  • Sam, great documentary photos. Jordan is a place that I would love to visit one day, as it looks like the photo possibilities there are endless. Great job, and it is refreshing to see a Leica photographer’s work in color and utilizing the maximum capabilities of of the Q.

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