Featured photographer #38: Joe Adolfae
Where did photography meet you? I grew up happily in Spokane, Washington. Ever since I was a young child I have loved documentary movies and magazines about nature, science, and history. When I was young I wanted to make movies about wild animals and nature. I think what I identified with was the idea of going out into the world and having an adventure.
I have always enjoyed spending time outside and exploring new places. I first started taking photos when I was around 13 years old. I had saved up enough money to buy a point and shoot 35mm. From there I took a photography class in highschool and really started to understand the principles of photography using a 35mm slr, along with how to process and develop black and white film. I studied art in college, but found that while I loved creating and experiencing art, it was not what I wanted to do with my life as a profession. After college I didn’t spend as much time with photography, but I still had a deep desire to explore and learn about the world.
Eventually I moved to Alaska and became an elementary teacher, which I continue to do and find very rewarding. After a few years of teaching in Alaska my wife and I decided we wanted to see as much of the world as we could and became international school teachers.
Once I moved overseas I realized how little I really knew or understood about the world and wanted to capture as much of it as I could. I was quickly drawn back into photography and my childhood dreams of having adventures and capturing my experiences.
What do you want to achieve? I am drawn to what interests me as an individual. I love to learn about people and cultures around the world. My hope is that I will continue to learn more about the world and myself.
I also hope that I can give people an opportunity to see the world from a different perspective and help inspire other people to travel. The thing about photography for me is that I am always excited to go make photos and learn more about it. I don’t really see an end for me, which is a good thing.
There is always room for improvement, something new to learn or explore. The great thing about photography is that we can give people a glimpse into how we perceive the world.
What’s in your camera bag? My “camera bag” is an old canvas bag that I found in an attic years ago. Even though it is falling apart, I will never give this thing up.Here is what you’re most likely to find in my camera bag, pocket, or around my neck:
Leica M6 TTL — I love this camera and don’t have to think when I use it. It is simple in the very best way possible.
Olympus mju II — I can throw it in my pocket and it takes great photographs.
Hasselblad 501C — nice and slow.
Leica M typ 262 — tinkering with digital. I am still not sure, but it’s a new challenge which I like.
I try to get out and shoot as much as I can. When I travel I am almost always shooting and always have a camera with me. The great thing about living overseas is that traveling becomes part of who you are, and it’s something I feel I need to do now. Besides the Hasselblad, I have made it a point to stick with a 35mm focal length. It has really helped me move beyond thinking about the focal length and now I feel I can predict where I need to place myself physically to get the photo I want. My personal preference is for cameras that have as few options as possible i.e. aperture, shutter speed, and film speed. Less things to confuse me and get in the way of me making a picture.
If you could give one final advice / task to your fellow photographers, what would it be? Try to be open minded and humble. Life is about growing and learning — enjoy it and take as much of it in as you possibly can.
Ansel Adams or Annie Lebowitz or Martin Parr or Alec Soth? I just watched the American Masters: Ansel Adams PBS documentary again recently. It’s a great glimpse into who he was as a person. I enjoy Alec Soth’s work and recently got my hands on Songbook. It is a great photography book and definitely worth checking out. I have recently really been enjoying the photography, as well as activism, of Sebastiao Salgado.
Where can we find your work? You can find my photos on my Instagram or blog: