Meet Asheville Commercial Photographer Erin Adams
Among leading creatives in Asheville you’ll find a certain pattern. They’ve grown up somewhere in the South. They’ve gone off to build their careers in LA or SF or NYC. And then something — be it family, friends, the opportunity to have studio space — pulls them to Asheville. And in this small town they find community support at a level that’s unheard of in a town this size (or maybe any size).
Commercial photographer Erin Adams fits right in. She grew up in Savannah, then established herself as a commercial photographer in Los Angeles before moving to Asheville. “I'd sensed the strong community while visiting friends in Asheville, and [when I moved here] I felt it,” she explains. “I didn’t fully trust it in that initial time, but as I’ve lived here it’s proven itself to me time and time and time again. I’ve never lived anywhere that really cares this much about keeping a healthy sustainable community going, which is awesome.”
Erin took a few minutes out of her busy schedule (she was on her way to a shoot at Harmon Dairy) to answer a few questions. I learned quickly she’s not someone to get into elaborate discussions about her process or approach to work. Instead, she likes to let her images speak for themselves.
DM: How do you approach a shoot?
EA: The thing is, every shoot is totally different, though the first step is always listening to the client's story. You know, I was meeting with this catering company yesterday and I thought it was so endearing when they said, “you know, we have to charge the bigger markets — Raleigh, Atlanta — more so we can help the smaller Asheville folks.” As a caterer, it costs her the same. But she quotes it differently because she has a heart. Things are changing so rapidly in this small town, with so many people visiting from afar, that businesses keeping services affordable for the locals who've called Asheville home before the hype is commendable. And I’m that way in my business.
But I hate talking about money. Because at the end of the day it’s not about money.
EA: Like today’s shoot. I just want to support the agriculture community here in this area.
DM: It’s about the relationships, isn’t it?
EA: Yeah. I mean, if we can all just support each other and do what it is we do well…
DM: Do you see yourself staying here? Does Asheville really feel like home?
EA: Yeah, it’s home. It is a beautiful place to call home and close to my family in Savannah and Charleston.
DM: Do you travel much for photography?
EA: The first year I lived here I went to LA a lot. And over the years I’ve assisted other photographers on some bigger shoots. But I can’t think of anywhere exciting recently. I mean, I went to Spartanburg [laughs]. I guess we [my partner and I] don’t travel enough as we should as people with no kids. We are heading to Sun Valley, Idaho in July and planning a trip to Switzerland/Europe at the end of Summer. Not for work but will shoot for inspiration. Also, in the beginning stages of a book project that will take me near and far this coming year.
DM: What is the photographer scene like here in Asheville?
EA: To be honest I only know a few other photographers here. I don’t feel we compete for work. When I see other photographers bidding or shooting similar jobs, I’m like, “good!” Everyone has their strengths.
DM: What would you tell that young photographer, that college kid just starting out in the industry?
EA: You can do it. You must have passion, patience. Be brave and don’t worry if your life doesn’t look like everyone else’s around you. But you must have passion. It’s not easy. It’s not “the norm” per se.
DM: What’s not the norm?
EA: Just not always being able to feel secure but having faith that you are secure in what you’re doing. And trusting in yourself, trusting that your goals will be achieved: that’s where the demanding work comes in. So, I would say, good luck! You can do it! And relationships are worth more than anything else.
DM: What do you like to do when you’re not working?
EA: I don’t know what I do with my time [smiles]. I don’t watch TV. I don’t troll the internet much. I read the news and I work. That is the thing about being a photographer that is less glamorous, hours at the computer editing. As soon as the weather warms up I'll be out hiking with my dogs...can't wait for that.