Santa Fe, New Mexico-based portrait and brand narrative photographer Brandon Soder strives to embody a Southwestern style infused with honesty, whimsy, and grit into all of his projects. Keeping in line with his preference to capture real people in real moments, Brandon showcased the beauty and craftsmanship of Ramblin Rose Hat Co. by incorporating the stunning backdrop of his hometown.
As a hatmaker who is inspired by vintage silhouettes, natural color palettes, utility, and the life-stories of her clients, Sam Kate Toney collaborates with each client closely to create a hat that suits their unique style. Her beautiful one-of-a-kind pieces are created by hand with love and dedication to detail. Sam takes time to get to know her client’s heads and their hearts when designing each one.
Sam’s work is so special in that it reflects the palette and feel of our surroundings here. It made as much sense to photograph her work outdoors as inside.
Sam and Brandon met on Instagram thanks to their shared passion for hats. Sam knew Brandon focused on shooting makers and their processes, so working together felt like a natural fit.
When Sam decided to branch out on her own hat business we started talking about photo ideas. She needed promotional shots, but instead of a more traditional look book, which would require building hats for the shoot, we decided to photograph clients that were already having hats made. It was fun to get creative with the resources we already had at hand.
Most of the images were shot in and around Santa Fe, while some were taken in Brandon’s studio and around Sam’s shop. The first shoot was for a client that worked up at Ghost Ranch, which is north of Santa Fe. While working outdoors can pose a bit of a challenge, the hats blended perfectly with the landscape of New Mexico, complementing their handmade quality and loving workmanship.
Figuring out how to capture a hat while not letting it cast a shadow on the subject’s face can also be tricky — but I love a good challenge.
With Sam’s client base spread far and wide, finding locations for shoots presented some logistical challenges. In one shoot, Brandon captured enchanting shots of Kylie among the rose bushes and trees of El Rey garden, as they welcomed the break from shooting in the middle of the day in the New Mexico sun.
Each shoot was surprising in that I often didn’t know where we were shooting until the day-of. It was an exercise in improvisation, but surprise locations can be as great as having lots of time to set up. Magic happens in those spontaneous moments.
With a degree in costume design and technology, Sam took her first hat-building course as an undergrad in college. It was a GoFundMe campaign made possible by friends that spurred her entrepreneurial journey with Ramblin’ Rose in August of 2018. She has been focusing her energy on growing her business ever since.
In college it was common to learn a little bit of everything in the world of costuming, but most people who were builders found a discipline in either clothing or costume crafts (masks, hats, shoes, armor, etc.). I grew up painting and sculpting and sewing, so it seemed only natural for my focus to be more on the craft side.
Storytelling was at the heart of this project. Sam’s story as a new entrepreneur, and also the story of each hat, its new owner, and its new surroundings. It’s my style, and it’s the New Mexico style, to honor the elements of heart and grit that are part of daily life here.
I loved having the opportunity of photographing a variety of subjects, and people who are not necessarily models, but just everyday folks who love hats and supporting an amazing maker.
See more of Brandon’s images on Instagram.