Nomad Avenue X Adam Katz Sinding
Since 2003, the American born and Copenhagen based individual spent most of his years documenting events of the fashion industry, and thus travelled all around the world.
In the strange times we are facing, Adam had to adapt and find new ways to express his creativity and Art, which is the focus of our interview.
Interviewed by Anaëlle Brière and (for once) in front of the lens of Longfei Wang, Adam tells us about his wanderlust days, connection to Russia - more precisely St Petersburg, and his new way of exploring the world while slightly biking away from the fashion sphere.
Check out the video interview or read on for the full uncut version of the interview below.
My name is Adam Katz Sinding and I’m a photographer or... was a photographer.
Normally I’m traveling the world taking photos of fashion events and things like that... but here we are, on my couch, in Copenhagen.
As a photographer you’ve been traveling around the world - what do you like about traveling?
It’s obviously visually stimulating, it’s interesting to be in new environments all the time - a little break from the normal.
I think I travelled a bit excessively prior to the situation that we are in right now, so I’m very much appreciating not traveling at the same time.
Traveling, I think, is one of the best ways to enrich yourself and open your mind and your eyes to new cultures and experiences and, I don’t know, if you see the same thing everyday you don’t really grow that much, so it’s nice to get out and kind of get outside of your comfort zone a little bit.
In 2019 you published your second book “Live from F*cking Everywhere” in which you capture the essence of cities around the globe. What does it take for a city to charm you?
I don’t know.
It has a lot to do with, for me, how walkable the city is, I think. Especially, for example, if I go to Almati, Kazakhstan, I’m in a car the whole time; Moscow, I’m often in a car as well.
If the city’s urban sprawl spread out over tens of kilometers, it becomes more difficult to interact with the city.
Cities that are more geared for walking like Paris, Copenhagen, anywhere where the infrastructure is more geared towards pedestrian or bicycle or whatever, I think you interact with the city in a different way, you see more.
When you’re inside a car, you have this cage around you, you don’t see what’s above you, you have this filter between you.
Being out, walking around, you hear the sounds, you hear that ambulances make different sounds in different cities and you pay attention to what kind of cars people drive, the architecture and the way people dress; things that when you’re speeding by in a car you don’t pay attention to, you’re just flying by, they’re blurs outside the window.
Same thing if you are on a motorcycle instead of being in a car, you see even more, and then on a bicycle you see even more and then walking you see even more.
I mean, you go to Los Angeles and you get in your car, you drive 20 kilometers, you get out of your car, you walk into the grocery store, the coffee shop or whatever, you have your small human interaction and then you get back in the car and you’re by yourself, again you’re in your cage, then you go back to another place, you go back home - I don’t think it is conducive for experiencing a city.
When I go to Los Angeles I walk, a lot, which is ridiculous, because it’s impossible, it’s not a walking city in any way.
I think any of these newer cities that are built for cars are harder to interact with, for sure.
So you’re wearing the pendant inspired by the manhole cover of New Holland island in St- Petersburg, a city you visited as well - could you tell us about your story with that city?
Well, I think, Russia, in general, is a very interesting thing for Americans, because we have these preconceived notions of what Russia is, right?
And, I remember the first time I went to Moscow.
I went to Moscow before I went to St-Petersburg for the first time and I was like blown-away by how beautiful this city was, because in my mind I had created this idea of this grey, dark, sad kind of place, because that’s what we’re taught - you know, the Soviet Union, etc, etc..
And, then everybody said “okay, if you go to St-Petersburg, it’s even more beautiful, it’s much more European feeling”, so I went to St-Petersburg.
I’ve only been to St-Petersburg in the winter, which is... kind of horrible.
It’s a very dark city, the stones of the buildings are darker. It’s like if you took Copenhagen, you stripped away the colors and you add a more dark monochrome feeling to it.
It’s insanely beautiful, because of this color palette that it has, it’s just a different vibe, it’s impressive and... anyway.
But I think going to St-Petersburg especially kind of opened up my mind as to a different side of Russia that what my preconceived notions of that would be.
It’s also a walking city, you can walk and it’s quite big, but you have these big walking boulevards and beautiful architecture everywhere.
And again, you have this darker architecture and then you have these insanely brightly painted churches, which are like sky-blue and this yellow that doesn’t really exist anywhere in the world and they just kind of stand out; like the Hermitage is, I believe it’s green and white, and it’s this weird color green that no European city would ever paint their buildings with, but it’s interesting to kind of see the juxtaposition of this darkness and these colors.
And for me, having water everywhere, being near the water is important.
Like, as much as I love Paris for example, I probably couldn’t spend my whole life in Paris because I’m not close enough to an open body of water, I need to be near the sea, which is why I live in Copenhagen as well.
So, St-Petersburg offers that in a way that I wasn’t really expecting I supposed.
What’s your best memory there?
(Laughs) I mean, I have some memories - a lot of my memories have been obliterated by Russian vodka.
I remember going to museums.
I have not been to the Hermitage.
I have been to... I believe it’s the Russian Museum, which is incredibly beautiful.
The scales of museums are like unmanageable, you need like six months to see the entire museum.
But I think my most memorable experience, and least memorable experience at the same time is going to this bar, I think it’s called Griboedov, something like that, it’s named after a writer or a poet.
We were in a back room with this aquarium, you go through the staff entrance and to this back little room.
We were jut sitting on these couches with this aquarium behind us, just drinking excessively and the only memory that I have of this night besides the aquarium and the small room, is a photo that was taken of me and two or three of these guys that I met; and I think I went home at 11.30pm, just like the drunkest I have ever been in my entire life.
Those guys were out until probably 7.00 in the morning, but I can’t keep up with that kind of partying, as much as I would like, I’ve never been able to; it’s beyond my desire and it’s also beyond my abilities for sure, I’m not conditioned, like those guys are.
I’ve had never seen people be so wild out before in my entire life, which was not what I was expecting, for sure, it was definitely a surprise to see people go that wild.
These corona times, as you mentioned earlier, changed a lot of things for many people, included you. In an interview you gave in March 2018 you said: “Talent doesn’t matter if you don’t practice”. So, how do you nourish your practice these days?
I don’t nourish my practice anymore.
I need a lot of stimulation in order to be motivated.
When I first started taking photos of people on the street, I would just walk around town and stop random people on the street and that was just what I did.
I’d come to Copenhagen or any city, I would go there outside of fashion week and stop people on the street that I found to be well-dressed or interesting looking.
And as I started only traveling to attend fashion weeks or for jobs, I became hyper-stimulated by this next level of the way that people dress going to fashion week, being so much above what you would see on a normal day today, so I’ve kind of been a bit jaded by those years of traveling just for fashion week and the stimulation.
That’s very difficult for me to pick up my camera and say “okay, I’m gonna go out and just walk around and take photos”, with no real schedule or motivation.
I still do it.
You know, every once in a while I look at the window and I say “oh man, this is gonna be an amazing sunset, I should go, see how lights are playing on the buildings by the lakes or whatever”.
But it’s hard.
I have been bringing a camera with me when I am out on my bike rides.
A small little Sony that I can fit in my jersey pocket.
For the majority of 2020, I rode around with this camera and stopped along these rides, as I discovered the Danish countryside, which, prior to seeing it, I had thought to be very boring.
And riding all of these roads that even most people from Copenhagen have never been to, and seeing these kind of pastoral landscapes really opened my mind to what Denmark was outside of Copenhagen.
You know just as like France is not Paris, and Russia is not Moscow or St-Petersburg, Denmark is not just Copenhagen.
And I think that being able to go by bicycle and see these landscapes and these farm houses, the rolling hills, or the lack of rolling hills (laughs), was a kind of eye-openers to what real life was like here, not just the marginalized kind of city life.
In Copenhagen, although life might be marginally better that in other major cities, you can still look at your avocado toast and your açaí bowls and whatever; you can do that in Sydney, and you can do that in New-York, and you can do that in any city.
So it’s not terribly stimulating in a new way.
And getting out and seeing the countryside... and then documenting it, taking these photos of horses, or old viking monuments or tuns or whatever, or just the rapeseed flowers blooming in the early spring, and landscapes that we don’t have in the States - at least where I’m from - I think helps me to maintain the practice.
I definitely, now that it’s winter, the light isn’t as exciting, have strayed from that active practicing.
I need to do it again.
I need to do it everyday.
I need to set a rule that I do it everyday.
But it’s difficult when there is not an agenda.
It’s difficult for me to get motivated to go out and just hope that I’m going to find something to photograph.
I need to be stimulated I suppose.
I need to find a way to be stimulated again.
And one last question because we’re curious: is a third book on its way?
I would love to do a third book, I don’t know, I have not created so much photography in the last year for obvious reasons.
I think that there is probably something there, some kind of concept that we could come up with.
I think it would probably be more like this “Life in Lockdown” thing that I did with Beinghunted and North Store in Copenhagen; these are the photos that I’ve taken on the bicycle, something like that.
I don’t know if that’s interesting to people.
I find it interesting from a selfish point of view, but I never know if people want to see those things.
But making a book is an insanely daunting task and it’s extremely stressful and there is a lot of moving parts.
It’s a high- anxiety kind of thing to undertake and I don’t know if I have my adrenaline level at that level right now, but I would love to do it, it’s just a matter of finding a story and then pursuing that, and having again my agenda that I need to create these images for a purpose.
I think having purposes is the number one thing that most of us search for.
And I’m struggling with that a little bit right now, so I need to reignite that flame I guess, in order to get a book rolling.