Dalia Air Magazine interview with Michael David Adams Photographer
– How did photography appear in your life?
When i was in my 20’s, I experimenting with my first 35mm film camera. I would create scenarios with friends capturing my ideas and was inspired to enroll in a b/w darkroom class. Soon after that I helped a friend build a portfolio for modeling, and that’s when my career was clear to me.. I realized after this that i had a natural talent for the art of photography beginning early on as a child.. When i was young I had an instamatic Kodak camera, and looking back at those images, I could see a intuitive sense of composition, and story telling in the photos I took.
– How do you define yourself as a photographer? An art photographer? A fashion photographer?
I think i am a mix of all of these things.. I shoot a consistent variety of all of different kinds of work. I believe it’s very healthy to continue shooting personal work, and work that can be considered as “art”, as opposed to concentrating only on commercial endeavors.. This keeps my mind open to new ideas when shooting jobs, and brings a fresh eye to each new project.
– Are you the type of photographer with a camera slung over your shoulder on the lookout for THE photo or do you think about the picture before staging it?
I typically plan all of my shoots, even the fine art.. When i am on vacations or taking time off from a job in another country (or on a nice trip here in the US), i will then take my 35mm camera with me. But lots of times, when not specifically shooting for a goal of “art” or “commerce”, i will have my iphone with me and use that for snapshots.. I did spend many years always having a camera with me, but now, i quite enjoy absorbing my surroundings without being behind a camera.. Although… I do find that when visiting a new place that i have never been before, the images i capture at that first visit, have a different feel than ones taken after i am familiar with the environment.. The first moments of wonder always feel different on camera.. In those cases, i usually go back to the same place and enjoy it without a camera so i’m not tempted to spend all day photographing.. 🙂
– You work for institutions such as Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Cosmopolitan, and so on around the world, what’s most enjoyable about this profession?
Fashion and Beauty photography have many different aspects to them. From the planning of shoots, behind the scenes of the shoots themselves, and seeing your collaborations come to life in the final print of the magazines and covers. All of these are very exciting things, and it’s hard to say which is the most exciting. But I love spending time at the amazing locations, working with the crews, and just being there with people I enjoy..
– Do you have a particular view on life or photography that you wish to transmit through your pictures? What is it you want to highlight?
In my early art career, I was painting a lot with oils and with that, I was exploring my own thoughts and questions on life. With photography, I’m driven to make beautiful imagery, and not make many socio-political statements like I did with painting. I love capturing either a sense of anticipation and tension or a feeling of breathlessness, and love it when a viewer can create their own narrative as to what my photo is about, or the possible history of the person in it, and why they are doing what they are.. One person just recently described my work as
“your photos are like a movie scene with doves flying thru just before the big climatic scene »
This is a great compliment, and a scene that i could actually see myself trying to shoot.. J
– What is it you like about the photographic expression?
I love creating and capturing moments and showing the world through my eyes, letting people see things that they may not have viewed on their own..
– Tell us how you take your photos? The techniques and equipment you use…etc.
Speaking of equipment.. I shoot with either my Hasselblad H2 and a PhaseOne digital back, or with my Canon 5DII.. I usually like to shoot tethered to a laptop or mac pro, when available, but have recently enjoyed shooting free of the computers straight to cards..
When I’m shooting outside, I’m typically pretty simple, just the sun and some reflectors, I love showing the natural beauty that the sun creates.. I will occasionally use a strobe light outdoors if I’m shooting beauty, as beauty photography requires a little different amount of control and balance..
-When we look at your pictures, the theme of water is omnipresent, what does it mean?
Water is something very Zen for me. I grew up in the martial arts, studying a mixture of Tang Soo Do and Tae Kwon Do, and the fluidity of water was always a natural thing of wonder for me. Bruce Lee was quoted as saying “Don’t get stuck in one form,… be like water”.. I had this feeling and respect for water my whole life, but only recently found the quote. Water always knows where to go, and can take any shape.. With it’s determination it can conquer the strongest of mountains, but it can also soothe you to sleep. It is our life force, but yet it can easily take life away.. For these and many other reasons, one of which, loving being in it and in exotic locations, I love shooting near it, and especially under the surface!
Shooting underwater is amazing. It is incredibly challenging, and the results, when done well, are simply astonishing. It’s very rewarding after all the hard work of being submerged for 8 hours, to see the captured images.. I love it.
– Does NYC bring anything extra to your artistic vision?
A lot of people do ask this question. New York City is special because there are so many creative people here and no other city like it in the US.. It is the center of the creative world for America, and much of the art work you see, and advertising done here and the world generates from our little city. So if you want to really make the creative arts your career and have a wide scope of possible projects, the best place to be is here in NYC.
– Do you have a referent in the field of photography? A photograph that you particularly admire?
I admire many different photographers, and try not to get stuck on any one in particular.. I’ve seen some photographers out there who become obsessed with one photographer, and their own work tends to become a copy of that person that they admire. There is surely merit to possessing knowledge of the work of your colleagues, but a broad admiration of all photographers is something I try to keep in my head instead of any one particular persons work.