Our desire to see reality

February 7, 2024

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In this interview, Adam Katz Sinding shares his thoughts on photography, the rise of AI and his journey as a photographer.

1. You’ve worked with notable clients like Tom Ford, Vogue, Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior, WWD, Givenchy and many more. What is photography for you? A form of art or a business or something in between?

I would never consider myself to be an artist, and I find it hard to accept that what I do is merely a business. I prefer to look at photography as a form of documentation. I make an effort to photograph what I see, put it into a certain context, and try to make my images as beautiful as possible. I did this job without payment for many years before it became a business, so the business aspect of it is just a lucky byproduct of doing what I love to do.

2. With the recent advantages in AI it seems like computers will soon be able to portray very real-life images of the world. Will this mean the end of photography as we know it?

I have a hard time wrapping my head around the idea that photography will one day be completely obsolete. Yes, sure, AI can possibly make fantastic alternate realities, however I believe that we as human beings, desire to see reality. Maybe this thought process is the same as that of those who built the railroads and thought that train travel would be the final form of transportation…and then airplanes came around. Who knows.

 

Person standing on a hill overlooking a city skyline

 

3. Today everyone can become a photographer in the sense that we all have access to cameras and smartphones. What sets aside acclaimed photographers like you from ‘the masses’?

I do not think that my work should be differentiated from “the masses”. I think that all photography is just as important as mine, the only difference is through my work and with the help of social media I have the ability to expose my work to a larger audience.

4. This book is all about IMPACT. How can photos impact the world?

If you’ve been to a World Press Photo exhibition then this answer is already answered. Images are how we relate to stories. Words accompanied by images allow us to connect to a moment.

 

 

5. Robert Frank said that “There is one thing the photograph must contain, the humanity of the moment.” Is this also the case, when we talk about fashion photography?

I agree with this sentiment. However, fashion is not quite reality. So perhaps it doesn’t apply to the full extent. Fashion is fantasy, and the humans participating in these fash- ion related events are important, but I would say in most cases, secondary to the garments. Now when we describe “street-style” then I think this quote applies much more than if we refer to a campaign or an editorial. On the street I look for the personality first and the garments come in second place. In a proper photoshoot, then the clothes are often the first focus.

6. What would you do, if you didn’t take photographs for a living?

Live on my mom’s couch. Jokes aside, I have no idea. I would probably still be working in a hotel and riding my bike on my days off. A much more sustainable way of life, honestly.

Person standing in front of an apartment building

7. You’re from Tacoma; have lived in Paris, New York, and Amsterdam but ended up moving to Copenhagen in Denmark. Why, and how has this influenced your photography and ability to impact the world?

I think that being from a smaller American city, I grew up desiring to see more of the world. I imagine that if I had grown up in New York City I would have been a bit more jaded and likely less driven (knowing my personality) to push myself to expand my horizons. Of course, my travels and living in new places has stimulated me and given me perspective. Essentially, I have no idea how my life would be if I had not made these choices to live elsewhere and travel, but I would assume that my exposure to different cultures and people is the driving force behind my desire to move and document what I see.

 

 

8. You’ve said that talent doesn’t matter, if you don’t practice. How do you practice to become even better at what you do? Is it just about taking as many photographs as possible, or?

I never read the manual. I learn on the fly. And to be honest, I have made countless mistakes. I’ve imagined a rule where I am allowed to make mistakes, but never the same mistake twice. If I make the same mistake twice, well, then I’m an idiot for not learning my lesson the first time.

So yes, take as many photos as possible, making stupid mistakes, but only once. I was once on my phone checking my messages and fell down a flight of stairs. Now my phone is in my pocket when I’m on the stairs. Not making that mistake again

About the author

Adam Katz Sinding, formerly known as Le 21ème is an American-born,
Copenhagen-based photographer. A true innovator in the realm of street-style photography since 2003, Adam spends the majority of the year documenting the zeitgeist of the contemporary fashion industry on a global level. When he is not photographing fashion events, he shoots major campaigns and editorials, giving lectures, and embarking in cross-country cycling trips. Adam has also published two books.

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