Allow me to introduce you to James. James Adams. Moustache behind the lens. Why did I want to interview him? Cos the dude is uber friendly and after reading his bizz card at a chance meeting in Surry Hills at an exhibition opening, I was intrigued. Turns out we’re neighbours – even better!
For the star of this next interview, photography became his thing when all his mates surfed better than he did. James had gone halvies with his mum in a camera when he was 14 and this soon became his tool to show everyone how well they surfed. Apparently when people cottoned on to their ability a demand grew for shots of them. “Shots I could provide” says James! Since then his portfolio reeks of music greats Wolfmother, Delta Riggs, The Preatures, DZ Deathrays, Vampire Weekend, Jesse Hughes (Eagles of Death Metal) and Angus Stone.
Are you self taught or do you have any formal training?
I never studied photography, or anything for that matter. I didn’t enjoy studying when I was at school and my parents encouraged my siblings and I to aim to do whatever we liked, so studying was instantly out for me.
I don’t like to say that I’m self taught. I have always had friends in the photo and film game. Everyone operates differently and uses different techniques so I’ve learnt my hand of tricks from the gurus I surround myself with.
What’s your favourite creative ritual?
My favourite creative ritual……. Intoxication of course. Photographing a lot of lifestyle and music lifestyle shots, drinks are never to far from hand. I find having an edge on helps build the confidence I need to put me in the positions I need to be in to get the shots I get.
Also I personally find housing a steady hangover encourages creative thinking. I get my gold when I’m relaxed so bring on the piss I say.
What’s the funniest thing that has ever happened to you behind the lens?
It wasn’t so funny for me as it was funny in general but Rudy Mah (Alex Markwell), the guitarist from The Delta Riggs, got massively in the zone one night and hit me in the face with his guitar. They were playing a Nudie Jeans party to a slippery crowd, old mate Rudy was definitely feeling the vibes and tried to light his guitar on fire, when it wouldn’t light he swung it around his head a few times before launching it to the brick wall, via my forehead. Total accident but it KO’d me.
I woke up on the ground to their manager and his girlfriend standing over me calling my name and slapping my cheeks.
You seem like a younger lad, soooo, do you feel you lucked out growing up in the digital age of photography? How has this influenced your work?
I started shooting somewhat seriously when I was 18, so 2003. Digital hadn’t taken over yet so for my first 5 or so years behind the lens I shot film. Mainly slide film as it had the high quality required for the shots to be published in print.
It was damn expensive, especially for a young guy traveling as much as possible and going through casual jobs like it’s going out of fashion.
When digital came into the affordable price range for shmucks like I, It took off the financial pressure that film had begrudged upon me. Was a nice change in that regard as well as the accelerated learning curb. Instant results helped with experimentation and all of a sudden no one was playing it safe with light and angles anymore. Everything was possible and being tried with this new gift of immediate results. Was exciting.
Now I’m a little older and have a little more money, a little, I have found myself indulging in film for fun. I can use everything I’ve learnt from digitals convenience to help me get the results I desire on film.
What would “Photographer’s Heaven” look like to you and your dream shoot? (don’t worry we’re not assuming your religious!)
Photographers heaven hey…. Good question. I’ve never thought about that.
I love seeing new things that I’ve never seen or noticed before so I guess it would be a devine wonderland filled with all sorts of different natural lighting. Loads of interesting people all hanging out, a free bar obviously.
I shoot somewhat candidly so I’m not much into planning shots. I’d probably just fart around shooting my mates having fun, doing whatever I wanted too. Kind of like what I do normally. Maybe I’m in my photographers heaven.
Is there a particular camera that travels around with you most days?
I’ve got two cameras that I use primarily. If it’s for an important big shoot I’ll use the digital gun but can more commonly be found papping with my film pistol.For digital it’s a Canon Eos 1Ds Mkiii. It’s getting a little dated now and stinks in low light as it’s made for the studio, but I guess that helps me think on my feet and use what light I’ve got. Kind of an odd choice for me as I shoot loads of stuff in dark environments.
For film I was using my old Canon Eos 3 that I used to rock before digital took over. It ruled but broke and no one will fix it. So my friend Sconnie gave me a camera her mum had rotting away in a box. Its a pretty common, easy to find old Canon AE-1. The lense was overgrown by fungi but I scored a couple of killers from the web and now its a fun challenge. It’s much older and harder to use than the other one but gets the wildest colour gradients when you nail the shot. I love it.
If you travelled to a native american village and hung out with the Chief, what animal spirit do you think he’d say you were?
I’d be hailed as the worlds strongest direwolf. Obviously.
What is the one question you’re really happy I didn’t ask?
I’d hate it if you asked if I was growing my moustache for Mo-vember or if I’d had a haircut. I get asked these all the time and no. I’ve had a hairy face every month for 10 years and haven’t cut my hair in ages but the longer it gets the more people ask if I’ve had it cut. Makes no sense. Frustrates my frail mind.
Is there something else you want to tell the YM readers?
The only other thing I think is very, very note worthy is that I love food and cooking as much as photography. So buy me a burger. For more shots, suss me out.
Is this the best bizz card or what?