Sam Ciaramitaro’s photos of BLM Demonstrations

(CREDIT: Sam Ciaratimaro)

Three-times Cannes Lion winner, Sam Ciaramitaro has become an accomplished director for Durable Goods and a producer with a distinct speciality for delivering poignant stories, often in an anthemic way, featuring people from all walks of life, including athletes, families and beyond.

His two-decade career has spanned the agency, production and client side of the commercial and television business, fusing big-picture brand perspectives with a nuanced creative approach. The former Burnett producer produced and directed his first Cannes Lion winning campaign for the US Army.

With a keen sense for visual storytelling and timing, Sam has helmed spots for such top brands as Coca-Cola, Delta, Ford Motor Company, Hyundai, Kellogg’s, McDonald’s, Morgan Stanley, Nationwide, Porsche, Toyota and U.S. Army.

He has placed his work at the forefront of social issues and conversations, with projects like his “Take me OUT to the Ballgame” spot for the Chicago White Sox–a bold statement in support of gay rights and inclusion within the White Sox fan community.

Now, he has taken his considerable talents to capture #TheBlackLivesMatters demonstrations in a series of stunning photos that reach into our very souls and pull out a range of emotions, the biggest being hope.

The mostly peaceful demonstrations were sparked when Floyd, a 47-year-old African American man, was killed by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. The now-arrested officer, who knelt on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes, has been charged with second- and third-degree murder.

When did you take these? The first photographs, ‘Bike Man’ and ‘Road Closed’ were taken May 30, 2020 at 3rd and Fairfax. The rest over the course of the last two weeks in and around Los Angeles.

What inspired you to take them? I’ve been shooting street photography since April of ‘13, I’ve shot all over from Los Angeles to Istanbul. So when a friend texted me that there was a protest happening, I grabbed my camera and went down to see what was going on.

Sam Ciaramitaro

What did you find most surprising about what you caught? It was readily apparent that this was a much more serious and profound protest than anything I had seen before. I was surprised at how intense and frenetic it became.

What disturbed you the most? It’s difficult to answer this question with so much to take it at once. What is most disturbing is the dire need for these protests. On top of the intense frustration and anger of people, the violence, sounds of gunfire and burning automobiles, the situations left me overcome with intense emotions on more than one occasion. 

Do these photos give you hope for humanity and where we go from here? I could quickly see that this movement has finally gotten the momentum to drive action, unlike anything before. To bear witness as thousands stand up for their rights and for the rights of others is a very powerful thing to experience.

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Currently, Sam is working on a two documentaries, one centered around a social justice issue and the other about a Chef from Upstate NY who turned to cooking and farming as a way to devote his life to sustainable food sourcing and supporting local with a dash of romance.​

You can see his director’s reel here.

Colin Costello is the West Coast Editor of Reel 360. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter at @colinthewriter1