KAM O'NEAL COUNTS herself blessed to make a living doing what she loves: photography and tarot reading.
The daughter of two military members, O’Neal moved around in her younger years—at one point even living in Dubai—before settling in Savannah.
She took one photography class in high school, but besides that, she’s completely self-taught. Her photos speak to her inner inspirations, and she also works with clients for shoots.
A true creative, O’Neal got out of the 9-to-5 life and wants to share that freedom with others.
We talked with O’Neal last week.
1. What’s the market for your creative services like in Savannah?
I’m definitely having to push boundaries. I’m a photographer, and the market is very oversaturated. However, what I’m really having to hone in on is my niche. In Savannah, everybody’s in a category of what it is they do, and everybody does it the same. That’s not where I want to be. I want to do everything different.
The market is a little hard to tap into because it’s so oversaturated, and if you don’t network properly or get the right resources, Savannah’s really about politics and that can make it hard to get a leg up.
Tarot readings, surprisingly, were very welcome in a way that I had no idea they would be. Tarot is not something I had ever dreamed of doing—photography was what I’d always dreamed of. Funny thing, I want to be a psychologist, and tarot trading gives me a leg up on that.
It gives me the opportunity to practice and get those energies flowing and understand the human empathy and compassion before even going to school and getting brainwashed. I’ll put the two together and that will make me a better person, regardless.
2. How do you handle that pressure to tap into the market?
That’s what makes me want to get away. Savannah didn’t become an art city until SCAD. I want to go to an art city that’s always been an art city, because the appreciation for art is different. Now in Savannah, I feel like art has been so tied to money that the value of art is being taken for granted.
I feel like more than anything, SCAD being there affected it because sometimes those kids get stuck in Savannah because they’re not given many options to get out. That creates a lot of over saturation in this one spot. Savannah’s cheaper than a lot of competing artist cities.
You’re creating a lot of competition and that’s making people discouraged and to go back to the 9 to 5 structure. I promised myself I wouldn’t do that again. I sacrificed way too much already to go back into that structure. I just feel like I have to work relentlessly to make sure that I never have to go back. Whatever that takes, if I can figure out a cheat code, I want to give it to whoever I can.
3. When did you first become interested in the work you make now?
I’ve always been into photography. I didn’t realize it, but it was something my parents pointed out to me. I always liked to take pictures with flowers.
In high school, you can take electives, but I was homeschooled. I really wanted to do something that was going to get me out of the house. I saw a class for photography, so I took it and fell in love with it.
My mom was like, “No, you don’t need a camera; you can just use this point-and-shoot we have at home.” I was like, uh uh. My dad was like, “We’re going to go get you a camera.” From that moment forward, I’ve been inseparable from it.
After I graduated high school, I was like, “Yeah, this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.”
When it comes to creatively shooting, it’s based on my inspiration. I’ll come up with different concepts of things based on something I felt or a transition in my life I’ve gone through and needed to express myself in one way or another.
My sunflower pictures were based on my transition into this newer woman coming into contact with my spirituality and identifying myself as an energy rather than just a person.
4. Tell me more about your tarot readings.
My tarot readings are really an energetic thing for me. I don’t really need the tarot cards anymore; they’re more so a formality and entertainment for my client. It’s really about reading energy, and that’s what usually freaks people out.
We work on manifesting what it is you want. I know how to read energy, I know what the higher power is trying to tell me. A lot of times, I can tell you what you need to hear before I shuffle the cards. It’s an energy thing, it really is.
People always ask me, “Did I manifest it because you said it?” Honestly, we work together.
5. What do you see in your future?
I want to be financially abundant and set up a structure so generations after me don’t have to worry about finances. If they want to be an artist, they should be able to decide one day that they want to do that. I want generations after me to have options. Mental health is the biggest objective for me. Breaking generations of that—that’s my biggest goal. Living my best life, living an active and creative life. I really see myself constantly being creative and bringing that love and light to people.