Today’s interview comes from Chicago, Illinois and features an extraordinarily multi-talented travel, landscape and nature Photographer. His name is Adam Romanowicz and he finds inspiration for his work with his love for the beauty of the world. Through his travels and unique approach to photography, Adam has the ability to convey his passion for adventure with his viewers.
Adam, thank you for allowing us to learn about some of your adventures through your photography and for allowing us to get to know a bit about you and your process. You are a brilliant photographer and someone whose work is definitely worth following.
Can you please tell the readers a bit about yourself?
This is always one of the hardest questions… I’m still discovering myself and my path. So far, what I know is that I’m about 50/50 right/left brained. I have a constant calling to adventure, and love traveling, the outdoors, SCUBA diving, aviation, and of course, photography. I’m currently grounded in a career in the computer industry, but in the next 10 years, I have a goal of becoming a full-time travel photographer. In the meantime, I am lucky enough to have plenty of time off to travel, explore, and photograph the world.
Where is home?
I was born and raised in the great city of Chicago, and have lived in the area my entire life. While I love the city and all it has to offer, I’m increasingly drawn to someplace warmer, and possibly less flat.
After browsing through your website, I see that you have built up an extensive collection of wonderful photography. When did you first become interested in photography and how long have you been involved with it?
Growing up I was involved in scouting, which means I spent a few weeks every summer at camp. When I was 16, I had the opportunity to go to Colorado for a gathering of scout troops from around North America. I purchased a cheap point-and-shoot film camera as a means to document the trip and the new friends I’d meet. Little did I know how life impacting the trip and that first bit of photography would be. I’ve been documenting what I see in my travels ever since.
What is your favorite part of being a photographer?
The best thing about being a photographer is having the excuse to get out and find new things to shoot. Life is a constant hustle, running this way and that, working, paying bills, sitting in traffic. Photography is a chance to literally stop and smell the roses. Not only glance quickly at the scene in front of me, but analyze it, take it all in, find the right composition with the most feeling. To be honest, I’m still working on the slowing down part!
What is the most challenging part of being a photographer?
Time. Finding the time to travel, shoot, edit, and take care of the business side of photography is the biggest challenge. I have a full-time non-photography job, and a family, which at the moment take priority. Balancing all of that is tough, so often photography sadly takes a back seat (for now).
What type of session do you look forward to the most vs what type of session you most often do?
Being mainly a travel and landscape photographer, every road trip, weekend away, vacation, and even a business trip has the potential to be a photography “session” for me. I try to take a camera with me on every trip, because I never know what new sights I’ll come across. While I don’t generally do portraiture, I do photograph my daughter quite a bit.
What has been your most memorable session and why?
As I mentioned above, I mainly shoot landscapes and not portraits. However, some of my most memorable sessions were, and continue to be with my daughter, from the day she was born. It’s been a real challenge to capture her growth, personality, and accomplishments, and as many photos as I have, I still don’t feel I have enough. I’m constantly learning new things and getting new ideas, and since it’s my own kid, there’s no pressure to get the best photos every time.
How do you keep yourself motivated and your photography fresh?
For me, it all comes down to travel, especially when I’m going someplace I haven’t been before. I love to capture the world the way I see it, and am driven to show people the beauty of the world. I get new inspiration and ideas from various sources, and often research locations before traveling. I try to keep my photography fresh by trying new techniques, angles, and times of day, as well as looking at the work of other photographers for ideas.
What has been the biggest source of inspiration in your work?
The biggest source of inspiration in my work is probably National Geographic. For as long as I can remember, I was fascinated by the visual storytelling in the magazine. Looking at the photographs made me feel like I was part of the story. This is the feeling I try to evoke on my viewers, the sense that they’re staying in the frame, viewing the scene before them as if they were actually there.
What do you hope viewers take away from your images?
A sense of place, a reminder of places they’ve been, or a feeling of being somewhere they have not yet been. I want to inspire people and create a desire to travel, even if it means getting out of their comfort zone.
Share with us your favorite image and why.
It’s so difficult to pick a “favorite” image, as I have so many that I like for different reasons – the experience, location, people…
Probably one of my favorites is this photo of starfish on the beach in Grand Cayman. It was a composition I had in my head for a while, and when I had a chance to shoot it, everything just came together perfectly. The location is beautiful, the sunset was photogenic, and the starfish were, well… there.
What type of camera(s) do you shoot with? What is your favorite lens?
I shoot with all Canon equipment. My main camera at the moment is a Canon 5D Mark III, although I sometimes also carry around my old 40D. Lenses vary, my every day lens is the Canon 24-105mm f/4L. I also have a modified Canon 10-22mm super-wide zoom, Canon 50mm f/1.8, Canon 100mm f/2.8L Macro, Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L II (great for portraits), and Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L, which I mainly use for wildlife and aircraft.
What is in your camera bag?
This depends on what I plan on shooting, and how much I want to carry. I always have a polarizing filter, neutral density filters, and graduated ND filters, as well as a flash in case I need fill light. My camera body, of course, spare batteries, memory cards, cleaning cloths, and cable release. Lens choice will vary depending on the trip and what I expect to be there, because I can’t fit (and don’t want to carry) all of my lenses. I recently also acquired a small drone, which I will start taking on most trips for aerial photography. Of course, I can’t forget my tripod which is a must in any low light or long exposure situation.
What is your favorite photography accessory?
Lately, my ND110, 10-stop neutral density filter. This allows me to capture very long exposures in bright light conditions, which is great for smoothing out water, creating a painterly feel in moving plants or clouds, and even eliminating moving elements like people. I have so many future ideas using this filter.
What piece of equipment would you most like to get but don’t have yet?
Should I send you my wish list? I currently use a rather heavy aluminum tripod, which is great for stability, but not great to carry when I’m walking around for hours at a time. I’d love to get a carbon-fiber tripod at some point. I also wouldn’t mind getting a smaller travel camera, perhaps a mirrorless that has the same or better image quality as my 5D, without the size and weight. There are places I go and things I do that make carrying a large camera difficult if not impossible. I’d also like some better underwater equipment, and a higher-end drone.
How important is Photoshop or other image editing software in your final images?
At the moment, I try my best to stay true to what my eyes saw at the time I photographed the scene, so my Photoshop work tends to be minimal. I do use Lightroom extensively for cataloging my thousands of images. I shoot all RAW, so I also use Lightroom for developing images, stitching panoramics, and doing basic enhancements. When needed, I go into Photoshop for more advanced work such as removing distracting elements or extending dynamic range.
Was there a point in your journey when you started to feel really good about your work? If so, what did it feel like to get past that ‘tipping point’?
I started to feel pretty good about my work when people started noticing (and buying) it. I wasn’t necessarily it in for career purposes at that point, but figured a little passive income couldn’t hurt. However, the realization that my work had value really gave me a boost in learning, practicing, showing, and marketing my work more seriously.
Do you have any projects that make you look back and shake your head? What made the experience so unpleasant?
I can’t say that I do, because I don’t do client work or contracted shoots. Most of my shooting is done while I’m out and about enjoying myself either exploring my home town of Chicago, out in nature, or travels abroad. There are times that I’m someplace hoping to get that iconic shot, and nothing is going right… whether it’s a gear issue, or the light is all wrong, or that one evening I have available the sunset goes flat. At those moments it’s all about adapting, changing course, and getting what you can so as to not go home empty-handed. I also have “I should have…” moments after the fact when I realize I missed certain photos I wanted, chalk that up to learning experiences.
Are there any areas of photography that you have yet to pick up on that you’d like to learn?
I’d like to get better at travel portraiture. Some of the most incredible photos in my favorite magazine – National Geographic – are of the local people. It takes skill in communication, confidence, and good knowledge of light to pull off amazing travel portraits. Actually, getting better at portraiture overall wouldn’t be a bad thing, I’m constantly getting asked to photograph families and children based on photos I post of my own child, but I’m always turning those opportunities down.
What do you think the future holds for you? Where do you see yourself in the next few years?
In the next 10 years or so, I’d like to get out of the office and into the field, so I can focus on photography as a full-time profession. In the meantime, I hope to spend even more time exploring new locations, getting new and unique perspectives, and continuing to learn both photography and the business of photography. I’d also like to learn to paint, to add yet another creative dimension to my portfolio. Finally, I’d like to continue developing my website and customer base, and grow my social media following.