A! Magazine for the Arts

Adam Robinson's self portrait.

Adam Robinson's self portrait.

Youth Spotlight: Adam Robinson

February 29, 2012

Adam Robinson was once interested in sports and business administration. Now his passions are photography and creative writing.

Robinson played several sports, focusing primarily on football at Pound High School in Wise County, Va. After earning a bachelor's degree in business and public administration from the University of Virginia's College at Wise, he went to work at the Hibbett Sports store in Norton, Va. He started at the entry level in February 2009 and, by July 2010, he had obtained his own store in West Virginia.

He left Hibbett to go to King College in Bristol, Tenn., to follow his passion for photography. Currently a second semester photography student at King, Robinson is 26 years old and expects to receive his photography degree either in December 2012 or May 2013.

"My business degree has been a great complement to my photography studies," says Robinson. "I've been able to use my business skills to network with photographers as far away as Los Angeles. After I complete my photography degree, I hope to set my base of operations in California."

Why California? "Even before I started doing photography, I visited Los Angeles and fell in love with the surrounding area. I just felt like I fit in," Robinson explains. "When I came to Bristol, I chartered the first official King College Photo Club. Through this, I've met two Los Angeles-based photographers. Through them, my networking has gotten larger. Most of the professional photographers I now know are in Los Angeles. There is just so much opportunity and competition in that area. I don't want anything handed to me. I want to be able to go to Los Angeles and earn the right to call myself a photographer. If Los Angeles happens, I hope to be a freelance photographer. I'd love to be able to shoot anything and everything."

Robinson adds, "I've always been interested in photography, and it's all thanks to my mom. She always had some sort of camera in her hand and has taken thousands of pictures of me and my brother growing up. Any chance I could get my hands on a camera, I was taking photos. I was always the kid sneaking a disposable camera into a concert to get a shot."

He admits, "I was never really exposed to being a 'film' shooter in the traditional sense. Sure, I had disposable cameras or some automatic camera. I'd shoot a roll of film and just drop it at the One Hour Photo store and be on my way. I hate that I never really learned film in the traditional sense. Some of the colors and tones you can get with film are amazing.

"So for me, digital photography has been my fix. I absolutely love what you can do with digital imaging - during and after the shoot. The post-processing is always fun. However, I still like to treat a digital shoot like 'film' - meaning, I don't like to do too much manipulation, if possible."

One of Robinson's images was selected for the 2012 Shutter Photo Exhibition in Charlotte, N.C., a juried show sponsored by The Art of Light Photo Club at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte. The photograph was one of only 33 pieces selected out of 875 submitted for the show. The exhibit was held from Jan. 18-Feb. 7 at the UNC-Charlotte Student Union Gallery. The competition, in its third year, showcases innovative, contemporary photography bridging traditional silver-based work with digital processes, created by undergraduate and graduate students from the southeast region of the United States.

"It's just absolutely an amazing opportunity to be selected to exhibit in Shutter 2012," says Robinson. "It's an honor and privilege to represent myself and King College along with all of the other students and universities represented. It's surreal. My work is being shown alongside students' work from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, the Savannah School of Art and Design, University of South Carolina, East Carolina University, Appalachian State, and UNC-Charlotte. It's a great feeling knowing that a great number of people will be able to view my work. Hopefully this event will lead to more networking and friendships in the photo world."

The image chosen for Shutter 2012 is untitled. Robinson says, "I've toyed around with a few titles, but I feel once you title an image, you are automatically making the viewer think in that direction. So, I like to leave images untitled; then viewers can interpret as they see fit. I had intentionally set out to shoot a new project called "Girls and Balloons," focusing on girls in older dresses, some balloons, and a great background. For this image, I was shooting my friend and fellow classmate Lyndsey Keegan, and had another friend, Katy Haupt, assisting me. Katy was wearing this really red dress, and I thought it would look neat to have her lying down behind Lyndsey. It actually turned out really well, and is probably my favorite image to date."

Robinson also enjoys creative writing. He says, "Writing is a way for me to express myself in so much detail that a reader can see exactly what I'm seeing. It's also a chance for me to create a wide variety of characters and locations that go beyond reality. I have a vivid imagination. People frequently tell me that I'm one of the most creative people they've met. Before photography, creative writing was the way I could show everyone else these elaborate scenes and characters in my mind. I feel creative writing was always the beginning of where I'm at in photography now. Learning more and more photographic techniques, I'm able to bring to life these characters that I write about."

Editor's Note: The poem was published in Jimson Weed, the literary journal of the University of Virginia's College at Wise.

"Autumn Fire"
by Adam Robinson

One Leaf/Autumn Fire

One leaf,
in a world of millions,
Slowly, begins to change,
a spark has begun.

One Leaf,
in a world of millions,
has fully changed,
the orange has taken over.

Slowly, in a world of green,
the outbreak of orange has spread,
the autumn fire has begun.

The tree tops are becoming engulfed,
The subtle green is no more,
It's now a raging orange,

One leaf,
In a world of millions,
Slowly, starts to fall.

Slowly, an outbreak begins,
now quickly it spreads.

All trees,
Have gone bare,
from the tops, to the bottoms trunks,
life has been taken away.

One leaf,
Has allowed,
The Autumn Fire to grant a beautiful death.

All is not lost,
life will return.

Robinson says, "This poem is a metaphor about revolution, and the change that comes with it. It all starts with one person (one person/one leaf, that is in a world of millions/billions, and then it catches, and it takes over (orange blaze/autumn fire), and then ultimately rising up, and taking over and overpowering the wrong, leading to a beautiful death."