Do you have any formal training in photography?
I took an “Intro to Black and White Darkroom photography” course in college (mainly because I destroyed the first roll of film I used in a manual camera by not pressing the release button… I figured I should learn how to use it properly, LOL!). Besides that, all of my education was on-the-job by way of assisting and experimenting on my own.
How would you describe your photography style?
This is something that I let others do. I just do what feels right for me.
What was the most interesting assignment you’ve ever gotten?
I think the most interesting work for me is the underwater shooting that I do. Maybe because it’s incredibly complicated to do the same things as you would do in a studio or just a normal “air” shoot. Making it feel effortless is always a challenge.
Do you still have time to shoot personal work as well as commercial?
Yes, I always make time to do personal work. It’s very important to keep your book and your mind fresh by working on new ideas.
Can you walk us through your setup in your “Beneath the Surface” series?
That series was shot underwater. It was fun to shoot, and had challenges of it’s own. I wanted this underwater shoot to feel warm and cozy and it was a testament to my amazing model, Ali, and her ability to keep herself calm and serene while under the water because we shot this in Miami, outside in January, in an unheated pool. The water was freezing! She was simply amazing, a natural for this kind of work! Sometimes you have to rise above any obstacles that may seem to be in your way and just make it happen.
What is your most important piece of lighting equipment for beauty shots?
I’ve been using the beauty dish for quite some time. It gives a really nice light (hence the name), but it’s also quite versatile. You can achieve a few different effects with the same light by using different attachments/modifiers or with different angles of the light. Aside from that, the Sun is a really great source too! As with any light, you have to know how to manipulate it and position the model or lights exactly where you want them to get the right feel to the shot that you want.
You seem to work with water as one of the main elements in your photography quite often. Is this by client request or personal preference?
It’s a combination of both. I love water and the sea. I love being near it, being in it, the smell of the sea and the ocean and the sounds of it. Water is very zen for me, so for me, it’s only natural to have my work revolve around it. Life is what you make it, so this where I’m happiest, and most inspired.
How do you prepare for your fashion photoshoots? Do you have the final images already planned out in your head before the shoot?
I approach fashion shoots in different ways depending on what kind of editorial it is. For some shoots, the clothing is most important, so I chose a simple idea and let the clothing and model be the main focus, allowing the model to show off the different details of what’s important on each piece. But other times I like to incorporate the environment that I am shooting in. This takes some more planning if you’d like to accomplish a certain visual goal. In these cases I will study the environment and get a game plan of which pieces would look good in a particular spot, and the plan the day accordingly. In either case, I always leave room for the unexpected to happen.
What projects are you currently working on?
Right now I’m finishing up a few editorials I shot for the top Croatian magazine called Gloria Glam, which I just shot for on location in Croatia. It was an amazing 5-week trip, traveling all over the country. First, I instructed a workshop in Rovinj, for the Rovinj PhotoDays Festival, and then went on to shoot the editorials. We also shot some extra editorials for ourselves. I was traveling with my wife and makeup artist, Viktorija Bowers. I’m also preparing for a solo show in September.
What advice would you give someone interested in pursuing a similar career?
The biggest piece of advice is to be true to yourself. In this business (and life), you have to be happy and excited about your own work. So if you are making yourself happy, you will make your client happy as well. As a business, you have to accomplish the goals of the client who hired you. So marrying these two ideas of being excited about the image you create, but at the same time accomplishing the goals of what the client needs is the key to being a successful photographer.
Michael David Adams lives and works out of New York City.
His work can be seen in magazines worldwide such as Vogue Girl Korea, Glamour (mx) Harper’s Bazaar (mx), VOGUE (Nippon), Vanity Fair Italy, Marie Claire (Cn), Marie Claire Beauty (Cn), Gotham, Qvest, SOMA, CITY, MUSE, Cosmopolitan, GLOSS, Vision (Cn), and many others.