While most people go through high school not knowing what career path to pursue, that wasn’t the case for Adam Borman. In fact, Adam vividly remembers the moment that sparked his interest in the art of photography; it was in middle school when he received his first camera, and as they say, the rest is history.
Adam’s style is dominated by bold colour schemes and whimsical characters. You can’t help but feel an instant sense of delight when you look at his work.
The Edmonton-based photographer has a long list of great clients under his belt, with Hermès being one of them.
His advice for young photographers looking to follow on his own steps? Be fearless and don’t second-guess yourself.
Tell us a bit about yourself. How did you get started in this business?
Photography and the visual arts have long been an interest of mine. Sometime in middle school, I recall receiving my first DSLR. Initially, I was more interested in video rather than photo. However, slowly over time, I gravitated towards photography. In Grade 10, I took a photography course in high school. I decided early on in high school that photography was the career path I wanted to pursue, and I spent the rest of my high school life working towards that.
Setting my sights on the Photographic Technology program at NAIT, I jumped right into post-secondary after graduating. NAIT grew my technical skillset immensely, and I came to the conclusion in my third semester that advertising and commercial photography was what I wanted to pursue. The instructors and courses at NAIT gave me a great foundation to hit the ground running right after graduation. I owe so much of my success to my incredible instructors, many of whom I remain close with. Without the program, I wouldn’t be anywhere close to where I am today in terms of my photography and business skillset.
You have a very unique and defining style. Can you tell us how the process of finding that style and perfecting it has been like for you?
The first five years of working, I didn’t have much of a clue in terms of my style. I do think, though, that those years were the time that I built the bulk of my foundation. Over the years, I have had many favourite photographers. I emulated what I liked about their work and that helped me grow initially. I’m sure bits and pieces of their work still hang on to me somewhere creatively, though my tastes have changed.
Two years at NAIT gave me a great playground to bring my style from what it was back then to what it is now. Combining the technical knowledge I learnt, I was able to craft what I liked about my early work into a much more cohesive and coherent look. I’m experimenting much less with the look of my work now as I’m happy with my overall aesthetic. These days, I’m focusing on refining what it is I do best and improving certain skills such as lighting, etc.
Tell us about a career highlight.
Working for Hermès was a total “What the hell!” moment for me. It happened about 1.5 years into my career, and never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined such a client at such an early stage in my career. I’ve worked for a few great Canadian clients, but being able to place Hermès on my client list was a big imposter syndrome moment for me!
An example of Adam Borman’s colourful work.
What do you do to get out of a creative slump? Where do you look for inspiration these days?
I try to avoid looking at the photography of my peers and contemporaries when I’m in a creative slump. The more I look at work that is similar in aspects to mine, the more it can keep me in that slump.
It’s been important for me to look at other mediums of art. I’ve taken an art history class recently and really fallen in love with several painters — Joan Miro, Georgia O’Keeffe, Salvador Dali, Rene Magritte — artists of that nature.
Experimenting with different mediums has been good to keep my head fresh, too. I’ve tried my hand at painting recently. It’s nice to use my head in other ways aside from photography, but still exercising the same muscles that contributes to my work as a photographer.
I’m always trying to learn something new as well. Feeling like I am not progressing or growing can contribute to a slump. Right now, I’m reading Interaction of Color by Josef Albers — it’s basically about advanced colour theory. When I’m in a slump, it’s great for me to switch my learning from purely photography to something a bit different, but still applicable to what I do.
What’s one tool at your desk or workspace that you couldn’t live without?
I do spend an unfortunate amount of time sitting at my desk in front of my computer — something I’m trying to change. I’m a bit of an audiophile, so I have a nice set of speakers that make my ears happy when I’m deep into my work.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to follow in your footsteps?
I’ve wasted time in the past second-guessing myself and my decisions. Self-reflection is important to growth, but can also be detrimental when it turns into excessive ruminating.
I’ve found, in pursuit of my career and my art, that getting started and doing something is the best first step.
My advice to someone starting out is to be fearless and jump in feet first.
What are some of your future goals, personally and professionally?
Professionally, I look forward to growing my network across Canada and working outside of Alberta more often. I don’t foresee a time in the next few years where Alberta won’t be home base for me, but I do look forward to traveling more often for work and meeting new collaborators.
Personally, a work-life balance has always been something I have struggled with. Slowly but surely, I’m learning to set boundaries.
Check out Adam’s website and give him a follow on Instagram to add a splash of colour to your feed.