Interview: Adam Elmakias, Music Photographer

Interview by Yising Kao

Adam is featured in our Music Industry issue and upcoming Photography issue! :

Photo by Yising Kao

A Music Photography magazine is such a creative concept and I admire how you include a mix of people who’ve been published many times and people who’ve been published fewer times or never even been published. Was there a specific moment that inspired you to want to create this magazine?

I try to do stuff with an intention behind it. For A Music Photography Magazine, I was doing my own magazine and I kind of wanted to find something that I could continue without having to stay active myself, while at the same time, fulfill that goal. In a way, it was kind of like starting over because people don’t usually buy magazine from a lot of photographers they haven’t heard of, but I just thought back to that moment when I was published for the first time and how good it felt, and how motivating it was. I thought it would be cool to create that moment for people and in addition to that, it also serves as a way for people who maybe have already done that, to have some of their personal favorite work published.

Sometimes, artists get stuck in a creative block, so what are some ways you try to push yourself creatively and try new things?

Overall, it’s just an ongoing thing, whether it’s on a daily basis where I create my routine or something bigger, where I look at my work and try to figure out what I can do to switch it up, or how I can improve, what I like about it or what I don’t like about it, and why I like or dislike those things. I do try to constantly improve and get better because I don’t really believe that I have like a fixed level of understanding; I want to have a growth to it.

You’ve said on your blog that when you first started photography, you saw it as a huge competition. What helped you realize that community plays a significant role in it?

Competition is community in a way. In order to compete in something, we all have to agree on the “rules” of it. We’re all competing in music photography, but we’re also collaborating because we’re all kind of saying that this is what music photography is, and we’re all agreeing on that, and we’re all agreeing on what makes a good photo and all these things. Competing is good because it helps move us forward, but it shouldn’t be used as a way of saying, “I’m better or worse than somebody.” So, I think community’s important to competition and competition helps us; it’s like a soccer game where everyone’s competing but also cooperating.

Touring can be really stressful and tiring, so how do you keep yourself healthy on the road?

I keep myself happy by constantly living in the moment to the greatest extent. With everything that you do, you kind of have to feel like “Ok, this is why I’m doing this and this is important.” You need to think out your day and figure out what things you can do each day that fulfill everything you need to get done, like “Do I need to eat? Do I need to drink? Do I need to take a shower?” All these things are very important and seem really simple, and they are, but they become a task sometimes when you’re on the road, so I just make sure that I maintain my sense of self, which helps other people get the best version of me.

You’re incredibly helpful to other photographers who are just starting out and constantly give photography advice whenever you can.

What’s one piece of advice that a photographer has given you that has inspired you?

I draw a lot of my inspirations from things outside of photography, to be honest. I’m friends with a lot of photographers, but I don’t draw my inspirations from them because a lot of the stuff I need help with isn’t usually photography-related; it’s like life-related because for touring, the photography aspect of it is kind of a backseat, and that’s my main focus so I look to people for more life skills than photography skills. Steve tells me a lot of things that inspire me, and Mister Rogers and Bo Burnham are super inspiring. I get a lot of my inspiration about life from those people, because life is the most difficult part for me, not so much the photography. It sounds easy, but it’s a learned skill that I think I can keep learning by doing with some help along the way.

Congrats on achieving your goal of producing your San Diego workshops! They were really helpful and fun. Can you tell us about your future plans for your workshops?

I’m going through it and making it a little nicer, and trying to make it better. I definitely want to do more, but I haven’t figured it all out yet.

What overall message would you like to say to aspiring music photographers?

You can learn anything you want to learn. You can do whatever you want to do, like, not in a corny way because you’re capable of it, and I think that’s important to remember. You have the skills to get better and I hope that people aren’t making excuses of why they can’t do things!

Photo: Awsten Knight of Waterparks by Adam Elmakias

Photo: Matthew Healy of The 1975 by Adam Elmakias

Photo: Hayley Williams of Paramore by Adam Elmakias