St. Louis is home to many fantastic photographers, one of which is Adam Wayne. Adam takes stunning pictures, but even more impressive is how he transformed a dark situation into a fulfilling, purposeful career. This is his story:
Adam Wayne saw things differently as he walked through the woods three years ago.
He had been laid off from his job after damaging his hand in a workplace accident — he still has the scars as reminders. As the father of a 4-year-old girl, he was restless and disheartened. But he was always comforted by the simplicity of the woods, and it was there that he saw life through a new lens. Branches seemed to reach out to him, colors became bright and vivid.
But he soon realized it wasn’t just nature that he was seeing differently.
After years of manual labor, Adam Wayne now saw his path winding in a new direction, one that bent towards creative expression. He wanted to capture and preserve this inspiration, and what better way to do so than through photography? His decision was made. Unfortunately, he didn’t have experience. Or a camera.
At the time, Adam was no stranger to challenges. He had confronted unemployment, a serious injury and fatherhood. Learning photography was the least of his worries. After scraping together some cash, Adam purchased a Canon PowerShot sx530, a relatively cheap camera, and definitely not “professional” by most photographers’ standards. But from the moment he broke the seal on the package, it was never about the device. It was about what he could capture with it.
“Most people would see a tree and think it would make for a cool picture. But I thought, ‘What if I got in the tree and took a shot that nobody else could think of?’”
This imagination would ultimately define his photography.
Adam started taking as many pictures as he could without even bothering to open the manual that came with his camera. He posted his best work on Instagram, mainly for his personal pleasure. But not long after, his follower count surged into the thousands. How was it that this man, with no experience and a cut-rate camera, was drawing more attention than photographers with equipment worth as much as a car?
“Most of the people who have this camera don’t take photography seriously, so they don’t really know how to use it,” he says, laughing.
Self-taught and with a chip on his shoulder, it’s Adam’s minimalist approach to photography that appeals to so many viewers. To this day, he uses nothing besides the camera he bought three years ago. No tripod. No lights. No Photoshop. It’s his one-of-a-kind twist on otherwise mundane things that compensates for going without the frills. Retailers often try persuading him to upgrade his camera, but he just smiles and politely declines.
“Depriving myself of all the fancy equipment and software forces me to get more creative,” he explains. “All that’s important is loving what I’m capturing and doing it in a way that nobody else can replicate.”
Adam isn’t fazed by state-of-the-art drone photography, high-end cameras, or photographers with academic degrees in the arts. He’s just focused on what fulfills him, and that seems to be more than okay with everyone else. FOX 2 News has recognized Adam as one of the ten best photographers in St. Louis, his pictures have been featured in several local news publications, and his follower count on Instagram is climbing towards 14,000. He tells compelling visual stories, juxtaposing raw nature with refined urban structures.
Many of Adam’s photographs feature his hand, but a closer look reveals that it’s always his left one. While this may seem trivial, it’s how he instills purpose into his art: Adam damaged his right hand in the accident that cost him his job, but showcasing his left hand serves as a reminder, if only to himself, that a tragedy always opens the door for new opportunities. What’s more, the left arm is a direct path to the heart.
It may have taken him 35 years to discover his calling, but that’s only one more reason not to spend too much time looking in the rearview mirror.
So, if you’re out exploring Downtown St. Louis, be on the lookout for Adam Wayne: the guy with nothing but a scratched up Canon PowerShot and a wild imagination.