Sam is one of my favorite photographers and has a bunch of photo’s in the new Ride Photo Edition. His stuff is sick and I knew instantly I wanted to send him an interview. Hear what he has to see and check out a few of his pictures:
Name, age and location?
Sam Adams, 21, Albuquerque, NM
I have a general bag for BMX and most basic assignments that includes; a Canon MKIIn camera body; a 15mm, 16-35mm, 85mm, and 70-200mm lenses; a Canon 580ex flash, a Quantum Q-Flash w/ battery pack and three pocket wizards.
I have other lights and gear for portraits and some long glass for sports.
How long have you been riding?
I started riding back in middle school when my dad took me to the BMX track here in ABQ and I just fell in love right away. So I raced for about 3 years until the local skate park, Los Altos, opened up and that’s when I started riding park and dirt almost exclusively.
How did you get into photography and how long have you been shooting BMX?
I got into photography my sophomore year in high school, so about 5 years ago. I need to take an elective that year and photography sounded like it would be fun. So I signed up and from the moment I shot and developed my first roll of film I was hooked.
BMX at the time was my life, it was all I did; so when I started taking photos I did it to show anyone who didn’t ride all the cool places that my bike took me and the unique lifestyle that we as riders lived. I believe that idea or wanting to show the lifestyle and locations we end up at shows up in my photos more now then ever though.
I noticed you have a full-blown website with a very impressive online portfolio. Is photography something you live off of or do you have another job?
At this point I don’t have another job, all the income I make comes from photography. However, since I am student and I live at home (yes, I live at home), so I don’t have a lot of bills to pay so I don’t have to worry about making enough to live on right now. I did have a job as a bike mechanic at the university’s bike shop last semester.
Do you see yourself making a living shooting photos?
Making a living from photography is my goal. Right now I am a full time student at the University of New Mexico (UNM). So school takes up a big amount of my time. So I shoot and do as much freelance work as I can outside of school.
Who do you most enjoy shooting photos of and why?
Well my friends are my absolute favorite people to photograph. I have unlimited access and can shoot anything at any time with them. They allow me to try new ideas and techniques, and I can screw up or take a long time and not have to worry about a client getting mad.
In the digital age, where post processing on programs such as Photoshop and Aperture is becoming the norm, are you quick to utilize the technology or do you believe that a shot shouldn’t be touched and it is what it is? Just tell us your general feelings on the debate.
Hum, that is a hard one. I’ll answer this in two parts. First off, this is the digital age and you have to be quick to utilize new technology to help keep you on par and up to speed with everyone else. So I would say yes, I am pretty quick to utilize new technology.
So my second answer is when it comes to working on photos in Photoshop or Aperture it really depends on a few things. I work every one of my favorite images from a shoot through Photoshop. However, the amount of work done depends on the final location of the image.
By location I mean where is this picture going to end up. If I am on an editorial assignment, such as for a newspaper, then very little work is done to the image such as simple tonality adjustments and cropping; absolutely no altering of the image content is done (ie. adding or removing things, selective color, added blur, etc.). However, on the other side if this image is for commercial or personal use anything goes. Generally I keep most of my adjustments as minimal as can be and try and do everything in camera.
Give us a few stories where something crazy has gone down while you were trying to shoot photos. BMX and Non-BMX.
Oh boy where to start? I’ve been chased by cops, arrested, yelled at, trespassed countless times, chased by people who want to shoot me, followed police pursuits, watched houses burn down, run from wildfires, photographed fatal accidents, etc. The list just goes on and on.
One of the best things about being a photographer is that every image has a story. Anyone could point out an image of mine from any point in time and when I look at that image it takes me back to the time when I shot it. I can remember the whole story behind the shot. So I am going to kind of dodge this question because if I tried to tell you a story it would end up taking 3-4 pages. But instead I invite anyone who ever has a question about a photo to ask me and I’ll be glad to tell you.
Most amazing place you have ever shot photo’s:
Once again, so many places it’s so hard to choose. However, probably the most beautiful places I’ve photographed are Vancouver, British Columbia and Big Sur, CA.
As opposed to a lot of other photographers out there, you have an educational background with photography. Do you feel that it gives you that edge or are some people just amazing without photography courses and school?
The only thing going to a photography school gave me was lots of time to shoot. Photography isn’t something that can be taught in school, I believe. It is something that has to be practiced and studied all the time. All photo school gave me was lots of time to practice and study. If you’ve got the drive and motivation to go out and shoot without having to be told to, then you’re a lot better off then a lot of the kids that I went to school with.
My best learning experiences came from real life learning experiences such as internships and assistantships. Those are your best choices if you really want to learn how to be a better shooter.
Describe your ideal shot…. anything goes.
The best thing about photography is the ideal (perfect) shot never exists. You should always be striving to make everything better. You have to be your toughest critic.
The best thing about it is I’ll never get bored. There is always something I can do better.
Do you find yourself shooting more 35mm, digital or medium-format?
Primarily 99% of my work is digital. It is just so much more cost effective for me and it is just how the world works for the most part. I do shoot film every now and again when I want to change things up a little bit.
What are some recent projects you worked on or some you are currently working on?
Right now I am working on a project for the Daily Lobo, the school paper at UNM. We are doing a feature on various athletes here at school and I am shooting a portrait of them. It is an idea that I proposed to the paper to help switch things up there a bit and to allow me to give me a chance to work on making some unique portraits.
Shoutouts and Thanks:
With out my parents support (and rent free living at home haha) I wouldn’t be where I am now. They have been great. Also, all my friends from ABQ who have been there for me when I need them. Especially, those who have given me the time and freedom to practice shooting. As well as anyone else who has supported me and helped me get to the point where I am today.
Oh and of course AJ for giving me this interview to do when I should be doing homework (this is so much better then college algebra, trust me).
Check out Sam’s website at: SamAdamsPhotography.com