Interview: Ricky Adam

Most people are familiar with your BMX work, but your non-BMX stuff is equally as interesting and powerful. Tell us a little about the stuff you enjoy shooting outside of BMX.

It’s really good for me to have a few different projects going on so that if I get burnt out doing one thing, I can focus on another. If I just shot one particular thing I’d get burnt out for sure. I have a few long term ‘book’ projects on the boil that when I get the time I like to work on. One being ‘…from the streets of Leeds’ which is basically a social documentary series of pictures focusing on the surrounding LS6 postal code area that’s on my doorstep.

I moved from Ireland to Leeds about seven years ago and was immediately taken by the rows of red brick terraced houses which I later found out were mill worker dwellings built over 100 years ago. Students & families have since replaced the mill workers and as I’ve always been interested in both urban/social change & photography it makes sense to combine the two and make some sort of record of the area during this time.

Another project as I mentioned before is ‘Urbanite’ which is a series of photographs taken in cities all over the world and is based around people going from one place to another. That space in between coming & going – people walking, exit signs, elevators, etc. I like the idea of freezing those transitory moments.

Tell us about some of the random publications that have featured your stuff over the years. Any specific one you are most proud of?

I’ve had work in a bunch of magazines and a few books all of which I can’t remember? Backyard Shakedown photography book, Document ‘a story of hope’ book, record covers, etc.

Recently, I’ve had photos in Juxtapoz, Maximum Rock N’ Roll, Hamburger Eyes and of course DIG.

I’m not referring to any of the above publications when I say that in the past I have worked with editors & designers who either don’t give a damn or don’t know how to use photos or edit them which can be the most frustrating thing in the world. There’s nothing worse than picking up a magazine or whatever and seeing your work destroyed through bad design or laziness.

Seeing as a lot of people admire your work (whether they know it or not), whose work do you admire in and out of bike riding?

I like almost every photographer in the Magnum agency, their work has always been an inspiration to me. The name alone is something that over time has become a seal of approval. Generally, Magnum photographers are both compassionate & humanistic in the way they approach their subjects and carry it off with great flair and consistency. I love looking at photos and there are so many photographers that I admire I really don’t want to start naming names in case I leave anyone out.

On your site, you say “Please note that none of these photographs are cropped or altered in any way”. Are you a purist in that regard? Do you not like messing with photos on the computer too much?

As far as photography goes, I’ve always been a purist in that I never crop photos or manipulate them in photoshop. I learnt early on that if you need to alter or crop a photograph it obviously wasn’t taken correctly in the first place. Shooting photos this way has taught me a lot about composition.

The film vs. digital thing is a tired comparison as far as I’m concerned, so we won’t go there…. however, I am going to go out on a limb and say that you prefer film over all else. Do you have a trusted camera/film combination that you find yourself using frequently?

I have an old Nikon FM 2 that I’ve had for years and I nearly always use it with Kodak TRI-X 400 film.

Yes, the film V’s digital is a tired comparison. I do find myself using more and more digital these days – No harsh chemicals & less waste so it’s better for the environment, a lot of running tap water is needed to wash chemicals off the film prints, film has become increasingly expensive and once you scan a print or negative it becomes digitized anyway. Blah, blah…. but like I mentioned above so long as the image hasn’t been manipulated in any way a good photo is a good photo regardless of what sort of camera it was taken with.

  • I want this to be an audio interview, haha. So long…

  • jobbers

    Yo Ricky, i got a photo just like this! Just without the service sign!

  • Just an amazing and in depth interview!

  • Anthem 2

    Ricky Adam. a class act.

  • Holy shit, that guy smashed up you Leica M6 in front of you, that’s horrible man.

  • Tyler Deschaine

    All time favorite photographer… I met him once in Kalamazoo, MI at Scott Towne’s birthday jam in ’05 and never even knew it. His urbanite collection is stunning. Keep it up Ricky! Your and inspiration to many world wide.

  • Ricky’s a great photographer. When I saw his stuff in Hamburgereyes I was syched to see a bmx photographer getting noticed in the photography world outside of just bmx.

  • Ricky Adams Rules. That first photo is tops.

  • Everytime i see Defgrip updates in my RSS i’am always hoping for a Ricky Adams related post as i cant get enough of his photos and seeing this made my week for sure.
    Great job!
    More please.

  • HAMBURGER EYES !!!!…….celly brain….love the snow pix of the riders in the storm,…….Gnargoyles!

  • Sean Zubek

    Awesome photos!


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