Sydney-based photographer James Adams is a pretty familiar face in the Australian music scene. Shooting festivals, gigs and musicians over the years has led to him building up an impressive portfolio chocked full of famous faces, with artists clearly feeling like Adams is someone they can be themselves (or at least their rocking and rolling alter-ego) around.
Like many seasoned snappers, his curiosity in photographer started at a young age with a hand-me-down lemon. “It was an old Canon 35mm number. Busted light meter, dusty viewfinder, really clunky…perfect,” he says. “But I was 14 and started working and it didn’t take long until I wanted my own camera so I saved up for a modern piece of shit…”
Shortly after that “piece of shit” met its match at a gig, which Adams considers to be one of the low-points of his photography career. “I was at a metal show in an industrial shed. It was a full-on, horns up, circle pitting, foot-stomping, 95% male, 100% all black clothing, metal show,” he says. “A few friends and I had had a few beers which was odd as barely anyone at these shows drank at all.
“The second band was playing and I was pretty confident, I had a nice little shine on. I was getting closer to the stage and the mosh pit opened up and I copped a full-blown roundhouse kick. Well, actually it missed me but caught my camera strap, ripping the camera and lens from my hands and whiplashing it to the cement floor. Of course, had this happened tomorrow I’d still be upset but at that time in my life, I was young and poor so to have my one camera smashed to pieces in front of me was a huge blow.”
It took more than an unfortunately-timed roundhouse to beatdown Adams’ passion for snappin’ (though there’s a message in there attending shows where a singer is likely to be practicing martial arts moves). Building relationships with musos out of a mutual artistic respect, he’s gone on to build an impressive career in an oversaturated ecosystem – something that he doesn’t take for granted.
“I’m sure it’s obvious but being able to travel as part of your job is such a luxury. Outside of the satisfaction of creating something you’re really happy with and proud of, the travel and flexibility are the perks that remind me to always do my best. If I fuck up one job it could all be game over, back to landscaping or concreting or school groundsman for me,” he says.
“I never want to go back so the epic, pinch yourself, times are what reminds me to work harder so I can keep finding myself in a Scottish castle with Kasabian, or in a private jet to Egypt with Angus and Julia Stone or even in a steaming hot home studio in Adelaide. I love it all.”
Check out some of James Adams’ finest shots from both in and outside of the music world below and head here to follow him on Instagram: