Adam & Kev are a Vancouver-based photography duo known for their stunning portraiture and award-winning multimedia projects. We caught up with them at El Caminos—a little Latin American bar on Main St. and the pair's local hangout, where Adam works Friday nights. Read on to learn more about their most recent venture So It Is: Vancouver.
Your photography is very Vancouver-centric (which we love). What compels you about our city and its residents?
I think it's a bunch of things - the reputation for being beautiful but bland, the common conception that there's no history here despite it being home to civilization for thousands of years, and the fact that a lot of things go on here that go unrecognized. I guess at the core of it all, I feel like Vancouver has struggled with its identity. Sure, the tourism agencies can place an identity on the city, but in reality it has to come from the people who live here. They are the real identity of the city, and a lot of people I've met are like me - they love this city but have a hard time expressing why.
Much of your work is portraiture—did this direction happen organically or by demand? What makes a great portrait?
What do I think makes a great portrait?
Where did you find the inspiration for playground.is?
Background: playground.is an award-winning interactive video series of live music events—featuring a recognized artist and a group from the general public that create and record a song in one evening.
Over the next six months we chatted to people about their experience with musical performances and gigs, and a re-occurring theme kept coming up. Collaboration was something that really connected people. Contributing to a performance was something that really excited people - especially non-musicians.
Tell us about your upcoming book So It Is: Vancouver.
So It Is: Vancouver is a book about the people of Vancouver. Built mostly around location portraits, the reader is introduced to 100 different sets of current residents all tied to the history or culture of the city in some way. That sounds broad, but it allows us to looks at some very different stories - from the woman who was the first person outside of India to produce round-the-clock radio programming for South Asians, to the guy who's ancestor accidentally burnt the city down in 1886.
What do you hope locals will discover about their city from this project?
That's a tricky one because I think that everyone perceives a story, book, place or event differently. And in a way that's what I'm hoping some people take away - that they see the city one way, but it's a different place through someone else's eyes.
If you're from a European background, your perception of Chinatown is going to be very different to someone whose parents emigrated from Asia in the era of the Head Tax and the race riots. That was a fascinating realization for me personally - because I'm wrapped up inside my own little bubble I don't realize the significance of a park or building. There's still so much that I'm ignorant of, but the more I learn, the more connected I feel to the city both as a place and a community.
How do you feel about the shift towards the ‘social photographer’? Those professional Instagram accounts with pictures that were, well, not taken with an iPhone camera.
Ha - we get a lot of stick from friends for our weak and feeble Instagram efforts. But this book has definitely made us try harder.
There's been a big shift - it wasn't that long ago that some photographers were concerned with their work going online and being stolen. Now it's taken as a cost of doing business - you need to put your work out there and social is great for doing that. After all, what's the point of shooting something if no one sees it?
Take Jeremy Koreski - he shoots incredible nature-based work out of Tofino. He has 30 thousand followers on Instagram because he's hit that golden combo of being incredibly talented and prolific. I'm sure he's put a lot of work into the social side, but it was a smart move. He recently ran a Kickstarter campaign for his book, This Is Nowhere, and he knocked it out of the park because his work is great and he's on a lot of people's radars.
On Adam: Ben Sherman Men's Eddie Sneaker ; On Kev: PF Flyers Center Core Hi Canvas.
Photography by Jeremy Jude Lee