Adam was born and raised in New York City with very little exposure to either nature, except for tar beach, or for that matter, to photography. In fact, his background and training were entirely scientific, driven by a childhood dream of becoming a scientist. He attended a specialized science high school in the Bronx where his experience of nature was limited to what he saw during a four-hour round-trip commute on the subway between his home in Queens and school in the Bronx. Continuing on this academic path, he obtained a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry followed by a medical degree and then a Ph.D. in neuroscience. He completed a neurology residency at the University of Pennsylvania and is currently engaged in memory research at UCSF. It is this background that perhaps establishes Adam’s distinctive conceptual framework of the world, which he then paints onto his photographer’s canvas.
Adam’s first exposure to photography was during his doctorate training when he learned how to use photomicroscopy to capture images of brain cells on film. But his involvement with photography of nature truly began when he was introduced to the book Mountain Light by photographer Galen Rowell. Adam was deeply moved by the inspiring natural beauty that Galen depicted, as well as by the detailed descriptions of photographic technique and the outdoor experience. Recognizing Adam’s growing fascination with nature photography, his uncle gave him an old Nikkormat to encourage this newly found passion. The rest is photography history.
Perhaps the most profound changing point in Adam’s life occurred during his first photography trip, a six-week backpacking journey to New Zealand and Fiji in the winter of 1998. It was there that he discovered the joy of experiencing nature by totally immersing himself within it and in doing so learned how to capture his personal vision of the world. His life was never the same.
It is likely that Adam’s extensive scientific background now provides the colors for his nature photography palate. He was initially surprised at the passion he felt for photography given his commitment to science. It wasn’t until years later that he realized that the two were never truly separate, that they were all one and the same. He feels that “both are an exploration of nature, be it the discovery of the organization, complexity or beauty of the brain, a neuron, a waterfall or a sunset; it’s all about the art of perception.” Thus the focus of Adam’s philosophy emerges and is portrayed in his book, Wanderings. This is a true Zen photography experience that shows us that the ability of anyone to experience the beauty of nature around them can be achieved by actively exploring their surroundings and attending to the moment, while at the same time allowing their focus to wander and their mind to remain open.
Adam is currently living in San Francisco, where his enthusiasm continues for the pursuit of an active life in neurology, neuroscience and photography. We can recognize that all of these elements in his life are what makes his vision unique and strengthens the impact of his message. A message which is constantly evolving. A message that we are all lucky to have shared with us.
Author & Medical Colleague