We had the good fortune of connecting with Adam Mann and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Adam, what habits do you feel helped you succeed?
Two things come to mind when I think about what habits have helped me succeed: cultivating community, and following my passions. We’ve all heard the saying “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know”. I believe there’s a lot of truth to that statement, but not in the salesy, superficial manner that it’s often referred to. Based on my own experiences, and from what I’ve seen of others that are much more successful, I think a large part of success can be directly attributed to putting yourself out there and building a community of friends and colleagues that have similar (or complimentary) interests. When I was getting started as a graphic designer, I’d frequently reach out to people who’s work I admired to share a compliment, ask a question, or just have a chat. Back in the pre-Covid days, that often led to grabbing a coffee or beer if they were local. I’ve done the same thing more recently as a photographer. You never know what will come of these friendships down the road. I didn’t make a calculated choice to become a graphic designer or a photographer. Rather, I kind of “fell” into them both. With design, I found myself making illustrations or doing t-shirt designs late into the night, just for fun. Eventually people started asking me to do work for them, often based on the relationships I mentioned earlier, and before I knew it I had a business. I don’t mean to make it sound like an overnight success (it took quite a while), but it started by exploring a passion and wasn’t intentional, at least initially. More or less the same thing has been happening with my photography lately. It started as a hobby (and by all means still is), but after sharing my work I had several people tell me I should make a website and sell prints. I thought it sounded like fun, so I did, and I just happened to get my first wholesale order yesterday!
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
For my photography I make ultra high-resolution images of insects. There’s something about seeing an insect that’s an inch big, printed several feet tall in perfect detail, that completely captivates me. You are literally looking into a world that you can’t see with the naked eye. What separates these images from traditional macro photography is that they’re actually micro panoramas: each insect is divided up into even smaller sections and photographed independently, and then stitched together afterwards. This is what allows the images to be printed so large without sacrificing quality. It was quite a challenge doing this for the first time. In fact, it took several months for me to create an image that I was finally happy enough with to print. All I can say is that I truly had no idea how technical macro photography could be, and it took a lot of patience and experimenting before it finally paid off. Thankfully, my process has greatly improved and it doesn’t take nearly that long anymore.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
We would definitely start by renting a place downtown. Not only is downtown Phoenix a nice central location for activities around the valley, but the city has also really come alive the past handful of years which has been great to see. There’s been a solid local arts scene for a while, but there’s been a boom in local restaurants and breweries as well. Stopping at a few places along Roosevelt Street or Grand Avenue would be a must. With so many places to eat and drink, that would keep the entertainment portion of the trip full. Arizona being such a beautiful state, we’d have to get in our fair share of outdoor activities as well. The Phoenix Mountain Preserve would be on the short list since there are options for an intense hike up Piestewa Peak or more of a leisurely stroll around Dreamy Draw. I volunteer at Liberty Wildlife Rescue, and sharing a behind-the-scenes look at a place that rescues over 10,000 birds a year would be a great time as well.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
When I was traveling a few years back, I had the chance to get to know a great group of photographers. I had always appreciated photography, but until that point I had never spent any time around it. We ended up spending a lot of time together, and eventually became good friends (we still loosely keep in touch to this day). So I’d like to give a huge shoutout to those four guys that took the time to entertain me with all of my questions, and share the basics of photography with me: Johnson, JP, Derryl, and Matt.