In Pursuit of a Simple Beauty: Meet Photographer Adam Scales
As a law professor at Rutgers Law School in Camden, New Jersey, Adam spends his days teaching students about accidental injuries. But when he’s not in the classroom, Adam enjoys the peace and quiet that comes with the solitary pursuit of photography.
Focus and Patience Are Key
As Adam worked on the featured photograph above with unswerving concentration, ration, the pink bloom brought to his mind the Starship Enterprise. But later, when a friend suggested that it resembled a woman wearing a traditional Japanese dress, he went with the title “Kimono Flower.”
For “Sunlit Rower” below, Adam was set up and ready to shoot the golden rays of sunset that fell on a bridge crossing the Schuylkill River. But he had no subject for the magical background. The light lasted exactly six minutes. In minute five, “this guy came sculling through,” Adam recounts. “By the time he reached the right-most edge of the frame, the light was gone. His work was done!”
Of Pouches and Pets
Adam’s favorite Frame Destination product is our unique Gallery Pouch™ — a reusable, double-laminated protective bag that’s rigid, so art slides in and out quickly and easily. “This is the best solution for moving art around I have found,” says the Philadelphia-based photographer. Apparently his dog, Bernie, agrees.
See More of Adam’s Work
To peruse an array of beautifully captured subjects — from black-and-white portraiture to African landscapes — visit Adam’s online portfolio, Invisible Lenses. For a looser edit, check out his Instagram feed and scroll through photos of Adam’s family, Philly street life, and his Alaskan adventures. And when you’re ready to hear about Adam’s artistic influences and how he “recharges” his inspiration, check out the Q&A below.
Now for Artie’s Eight Q&A with Adam Scales…
- What is your background; how did you get started?
Six years ago, I went on a safari in Tanzania. So, I bought a camera and a book on how to use it. On the next-to-last day, I took a picture of a solitary elephant in the Ngorogoro Crater. When I saw that image on my giant monitor a couple weeks later, I knew my life had been changed.
- How important is it for a photographer to "connect" with their subject?
For portraits, it is the only thing that really matters. See your subject truly, and everything else falls into place. Fail to see what is in front of you, and $10,000 worth of gear won't help.
- What has been a formative experience or the best advice you’ve received within your career?
American photographer and conservationist Art Wolfe says to look for landscapes in places no one else is looking. I've also been strongly influenced by Irving Penn, whose approach to portraiture was simply to create an environment wherein the subjects could reveal themselves. Inevitably, they did.
- In what ways does your work reflect your personality?
Photography is a solitary pursuit. It rewards the ability to concentrate, often with unsettling single-mindedness, on that which is in front of you. Oddly, given that I make my living with words, the practice of photography allows me the true peacefulness of silence; I can make pictures all day without saying a word. Then I can let my images speak for themselves.
- Creative blocks, do you get them? If so, how do you overcome them?
I rarely lack for inspiration, because there are beautiful things to be seen and photographed everywhere. But, when I need a recharge, I reach for The Democratic Forest by William Eggleston. It reminds me of the transcendent beauty of small and simple things.
- What is your most indispensable tool? (Not counting the obvious, like paints, brushes, canvas, camera, etc.)
I'm a great listener, which is the key to seeing.
- Do you have a new project you are working on, or a new passionate idea?
I've been approached by a local developer about developing a series of "portraits" for several of their buildings around town. Between checking my email one hundred times a day looking for that magic "Yes!" to arrive, I like to take long walks and imagine the images I would create for them…If only that phone would ring!
- What "fad" gadget do you most regret purchasing?
May I answer this somewhat differently? My first prime lens was a 43mm film-era classic. The very first image I made with it was of my father, then visiting. He passed away last year, and in my grief, I turned to that photograph. I have purchased many lenses, lights, cameras, modifiers, and doohickeys in the past five years. Had I stopped after that first prime, I think my satisfaction and development as an artist would've been about the same as it is now. Maybe even better.
All artwork and/or photographs used in this post are subject to copyright held by the featured artist.
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Last Updated June 15, 2023