Sam Comen – 28 at 28: an ongoing annual portrait series

Photographs and Text by Sam Comen

Steven Birenbaum at 28, 29, and 30-years-old. Steven and I have been friends since high school but became close throughout our college years. In 28 at 28 we shot just outside the new condo that Steve and his fiancé Paola had purchased together. In 29 at 29 I caught-up with him at the non-operational landfill where he works for the sanitation district as an environmental technician, just a few months after his wedding. And for 30 at 30 I returned to the condo to meet Steven and Paola’s 2-week-old son Maxwell.

Jessie Cowan at 28, 29, and 30-years-old. Jessie was my editor at Jupiter Images, a stock photography company that was acquired by Getty just a few months after I signed with them. Jessie lost her job in that deal. When I made the 28 at 28 picture, she had started a photo production company and was excited to In 29 she was working on a photo series shooting famous screen locations – we were outside The Brady Bunch home when I made that photo. And now, in 30 at 30, Jessie is home caring for Wyatt, her 4-month-old son. Photos for family scrapbooks sit in the foreground.

Joe Zadeh at 28, 29, and 30-years-old. I’ve known Joe since my sophomore year at Northwestern – I don’t recall how we met but I do know I was in his band for a rehearsal session or two. I made Joe’s 28 at 28 portrait in CalTech office, where we was in the final year of his 6-year-stint as a PhD candidate in computer science. He told me he spent more time there than at home. By 29 at 29 Joe had graduated, and was working at his second start-up in San Francisco. For his 30 at 30 picture I met Joe at the shiny new offices of the much-hyped and quickly-expanding Airbnb.com. Two weeks ago Joe was promoted: he’s working close to 80 hours a week as the company expands.

Carla Blieden at 28, 29, and 30-years-old. Carla is one of my oldest friends — we met at summer camp when we were 13. In the first photo, Carla is pictured outside her parents’ home in Northridge, where she was living as she finished the last year of her Pharmacy PhD/Masters in public health program at USC. When we were 29 I met up with her at the clinic where she got her first post-graduate job, and for her 30 at 30 I photographed Carla at the second performance of the fire dancing and fire hooping group she’s recently joined.