We may think we know Patrick J. Adams from his work in front of the camera, in his role as the sharp-witted and sharply dressed Mike Ross on the hit series Suits, but as was recently revealed at the Toronto opening of Berlin-based gallery Lumas, he also plays another, lesser-known role: one behind the camera, as a fine art photographer.
Adams, who, in person, is just as winning a character as the one he plays on television, supported himself early on as a photographer after his graduation from the University of Southern California School of Dramatic Arts. His work veers toward stylized documentation of “real-life fragments of the ordinary.”
Inspired perhaps to document his reality by his journalist father, Adams describes his dual creative expressions as “the yin and yang of (my) personality.”
“Acting and being in front of the camera is the thing that draws me out of myself and doesn’t allow me to live in my head. It makes me more social, part of a community, whereas being behind the camera appeals to the side of me that’s a little bit more controlling and quiet and internal.”
An admirer of photojournalists such as Robert Capa, as well as visionaries like Stephen Shore, Andreas Gursky and fellow Canadian Edward Burtynsky, Adams’s work hangs alongside the likes of Man Ray and Cecil Beaton, at Lumas’s Yorkville storefront gallery. His early passion for his sideline has also inspired him to become a collector.
“I probably have 25 to 30 cameras now in my collection,” says Adams, who counts a vintage Telephoto Rolleiflex and a Leica among his treasures. “The ones I most prize are the ones that have a story behind them.”
“I lost a Hasselblad in a taxicab in Paris once, which broke my heart but taught me a lesson to value all the things around me,” says Adams, who doesn’t take his good fortune for granted.
“It’s no secret to me, even though these photos aren’t at all related to Suits, that opportunities like this would not be afforded to me if I was still shooting people’s head shots out of my garage for money to pay my rent,” says Adams, adding that his success on Suits means that “I have a lot more money — and I have a lot more opportunities to do things like show my work in this gallery.”
A fan of the work of Jeff Bridges, another leading man who likes to get behind the lens, Adams added the same Widelux with which Bridges prefers to shoot to his growing camera collection.
“It was a great find,” says Adams, who hasn’t yet had the pleasure of meeting his idol, “but it would be a dream to meet and work with him.”
Skyline, by Patrick J. Adams, 31.5 x 47.2, signed, in a limited edition of 75 at lumas.com
Meanwhile we can look forward to seeing more of Patrick J. Adams behind the camera — as both a photographer and a director.
“Suits is still a big part of my life right now on the acting side, so in terms of scheduling, the thing I can do is direct more (episodes of) Suits,” he says. “As long as people let me get behind the camera, I think you can definitely expect to see more of that side of me.”