Adam Katz Sinding

Photos: Michael Dumler

If you take a look at Adam Katz Sinding's Instagram @le21eme you will instantly realize that for all intensive purposes this guy has "made it." Made it amongst the abyss of countless photographers and quasi photographers trying to make it doing exactly what he does. If you've ever wondered what it takes to get where he is, Adam truly says it best, and guess what? It's no different than what it takes to make it doing anything else. Check out this Q & A with Mr. Sinding to see what he attributes his successes to as a photographer capturing street style in NYC and around the globe.

GL: How old were you when you first realized you wanted to be a photographer?
AKS: Good question. I don't know. I guess only recently. I always liked taking photos, but never imagined I could do a hobby for a living. So, I guess, 2007 when I started Le 21ème? But even then, it was only a hobby, of which I was a bit mad for.

GL: It seems you are a Nikon guy, Why?
AKS: My dad used Nikon. When he passed, I got his. Never liked using a Canon. It doesn’t feel “real” to me for some reason. And the images are TOO “real.” I think Nikon is more emotional all around.

GL: What was growing up in Washington like? How does it compare to NY?
AKS: Well, primarily, we have hills. Lots. Mountains, hills, lakes, Puget Sound, the Pacific. The west coast is amazing. BUT, there’s no fashion there, really. So I had to make the move. I don't think I could move back to Seattle. It’s too “chill” for me. But I do miss the nature. That kept me grounded.

GL: Do you consider yourself a Washingtonian?
AKS: Yes, 100%. I don't think I’ll ever be a New Yorker. I just don’t feel like that city gets me. Of course, I would have no career in photography if it weren’t for New York, and I love New York, but I just don't think I need it like many people need it. It’s definitely unique, and when I am away (all the time) I miss how everything is available. Well except for cheap cheese/wine.

GL: How did you become a "fashion photographer"?
AKS: Am I? I don't know that I am. I am a photojournalist at best. My focus just happens to be the fashion industry. Sure I do campaigns, look books, etc. But I feel that most of those jobs are based on an aesthetic of reality, which I feel is apparent in my street coverage. If I am, in fact, a “fashion photographer,” then I have no idea how I got here. That being said, my mom is a designer, my grandma was an interior designer, uncle is an architect and graphic designer. So I guess that had some part in it.

GL: What’s your favorite thing about fashion photography? Least favorite thing?
AKS: For me, reality. Documenting the quasi-reality of fashion week. Maybe all of fashion week is a façade, but I try to show what it feels like to be there. My least favorite thing: the egocentricism of fashion. Everyone’s desire to be seen, photographed, noticed. To me, it’s not interesting. That’s why I love the French and the Danes. They don't give a FUCK about me. They don't care if I shoot them or if I ignore them. They probably don't know who I am. And I love that. Girls who are just so confident in themselves that they don't need to be validated by me, or by anyone else. That’s sexy. That’s why I’m out there.

GL: Can you describe your dream photography gig?
AKS: My job as it is, but with an amazing photo editor, and a traveling massage therapist. I love my job. I hate editing. My legs and back hurt. Help me.

GL: What does le21eme mean?
AKS: It’s Le 21ème. It means “the 21st.” It’s pretentious BS. I lived in Paris for like 6 months in 2005 and was very moved by French culture. Paris has 20 Arrondissements. I moved back to Seattle and wanted to try to find people like that and take their photo. It was my first time wanting to photograph people. So, I called it the 21st. As though the rest of the world may be inspired by Paris as much as I was/am. Worst business and branding decision anyone could make. No one knows what it means, and no one can pronounce it. God dammit…

GL: About when did your career start taking off?
AKS: Hmmm, well I never really made any livable money until the day I arrived in NYC (Dec 31 2010), when Elle contacted me and asked me to shoot people on the street in Seattle for them. I was so bummed, as I had just uprooted my life there. But when I told them I was now NYC-based, they told me that they hadn't found a NYC photographer yet and that I could do NYC instead. It wasn’t much, but it made my life possible. It wasn’t until I started to travel like an addict and contribute to W Magazine that stuff actually happened. They are my saviors.

GL: What do you attribute that to?
AKS: Hard work. One time my friend told me that most millionaires work 100+ hours a week. I thought that was insane. No, I’m not a millionaire, but I easily work 100 hours a week, and cannot see any other way to do it. I love my job, and I love taking photos. I don't know what a “day off” really is. Hard work.

GL: Where’s the best slice of pizza in NYC?
AKS: Oh man, you’re asking the wrong guy. I spent 65 days in NYC last year and 300 on the road. I think I only ate at Motorino as I live above in in Brooklyn. That’s depressing.