How did you get started in photography?
I was about 16 when I first really started noticing photography. I’d buy skateboard & BMX magazines: Homeboy, BMX Action, Freestylin’, Thrasher, etc. These magazines helped lay some of the groundwork for my taste and style in photography. The photography & design were dynamic and bold.
I eventually got a camera when I was 19 and as soon as I started taking photos I knew that this was what I wanted to do + it was fun, so I stuck with it.
Photography was something that started out as a hobby. In many ways it still is a hobby but with the added bonus of getting paid to take pictures for other people.
You’re into punks and bikes, and have many projects related to the two. How do these interests translate in your street photography, if at all?
I’ve always really loved street photography & I’ve always taken photos in the street. I guess, lately, I’ve been taking more of them.
I’ve always had an outlet for the BMX & punk photos I take, but not so much for the other stuff that I do. Ultimately, if something interests me, I’ll take a picture of it. Be it, punkers, bikes or someone in the street.
How did “The Facts Don’t Matter” come about?
Photography can be very easily misconstrued. When you look at a still image you never know what’s really happened in a scene. It’s a split second, fragmented moment captured on camera that more than often tells a completely different story to that which is going on. This becomes especially evident with street photography where people are generally moving quickly and every movement is so fleeting.
We look at an image and automatically make assumptions based on what we see. Most of the time it’ll be wrong, but that’s alright.
I just want people to look at the photographs and enjoy them for what they are regardless of the facts. Hence the title.
What’s your process like while shooting in the street?
Street photography is so hit and miss. I find that if I go out looking for photos it often doesn’t work. I just go about my daily business. Shopping, coffee, etc. and if I see something interesting I’ll take a picture of it. The best photos happen organically, unfolding in front of you. You just have to be quick on the shutter.
Many of your images include older people and smoking. What’s the attraction there?
It may not seem like it, but I dislike smoking. Even those new fangled 21st century vapour sticks that look like they’re straight out of some sort of dystopian futuristic graphic novel. But, somehow I find myself drawn to people smoking. I can’t seem to walk away from a good smoking picture. Cigarettes are a great prop. Think of all those classic films made in the 50’s where everyone is smoking. And smokers are everywhere, making them a relatively easy target. I must have a few hundred smoker photos. + a lot of people smoke. Lots of old people smoke. I suppose once you’re addicted, that’s it.
One thing I’ve noticed is there seems to be a much larger percentage of female smokers than males. This is purely based on my photos. But, I’d say about 90% of my smoker photos are female.
You’ve just published the 2nd edition of your book “Destroying Everything” – a collection of photos on Punk and underground youth culture. Can you tell us a bit about the project.
‘Destroying Everything’ came about quite suddenly. Around 2 years ago I was going through a bunch of my photos and I realised that I had a lot of images that possessed a certain quality and connection to one another. I have spent ‘X’ amount of years playing in bands, traveling and taking photographs for DIG magazine. So editing a selection of these images in the form of a book seemed like a great way to bring together a bunch of random situations and scenarios that I have been thrown into over the years.
The first edition of 1000 sold out very quickly and the Italian arts publisher Drago contacted me about producing an expanded 2nd edition which I was more than happy to do.
Ricky Adam has been involved in the D.I.Y. punk community for many years. He is rarely without a camera.