In Depth Talk With Adam Barto

In Depth Talk With Adam Barto

How old are you and where are you from? 

  24 years old from the eastern shore of Maryland. Salisbury.


Which did you start first, modeling or photography? 



Explain how you got into each .

 I was pretty creative growing up. And I was surrounded by creative people. Mainly my dad and older brother. I always thought they were the coolest and wanted to do whatever they did. My dad can build or create just about anything with his hands. He built our childhood swing set and jungle gym from scratch. He build us a zip line in our backyard that went over our pool and pond and we could drop off the zip line into either one. He made me and my brother wooden swords and all kinds of rad stuff. He has shaped over 20 surfboards. My brother is very much the same. He was also a good skateboarder. I never quite became a skate rat like him, but tried my best because I thought it, and he were the dopest. I was around the beach and surfing from day 1 and that played a huge role in who I am today.


 My family and I were traveling the world from as early as I remember. Mostly tropical destinations with good waves for surfing. I got hooked on it when I was 12 and it has been the main part of my life ever since. I got into photography kind of late in the game compared to most kids these days. I distinctively remember graduating high school when I was 17, and asking for a camera for a graduation present. I had my first surf trip planned with some buddies to Peru. That was the first major trip I went on without my family and I wanted a camera to record the cool things I saw along the way.

I continued to shoot my trips with that original point and shoot camera until about 6 months later. I was getting really interested in photography and new I needed a better camera to keep going. I then got my first DSLR as a present the following Christmas and that's where it really took off.  My first "professional" camera was a canon rebel 2ti.

 I continued to mainly shoot my travels and surfing for years. When I was 21 i was in my last year of college in Florida and decided to take photography to the next step by getting a photo internship with a local magazine. Void. During that internship I began shooting editorials and people for the magazine. Then I started dating an influencer chick and photography really started taking off.   

My girlfriend and I were shooting a ton of social media content for all of these brands and getting reposted. That's when I grew to liking people as a subject rather than just waves.  I studied marketing in school and still never considered photography a career path until I moved to Los Angeles when I was 22. I was applying for marketing jobs, but everyone seemed more interested in hiring me as a photographer rather than doing strict marketing work.


I met a popular model @rocky_barnes on a photo shoot, striked up some small talk, and ended up becoming her personal assistant for over a year. 

My first year in Los Angeles was splitting time between being a models personal assistant and photographer and managing her blog, and creating lifestyle content and managing the social media for a men's grooming company. BYRD Hairdo Products. 

I was always into fashion and style and design, I even designed a few best selling pieces for a clothing company I worked for while in college in Florida. Pretty much every internship I have ever done as been with a clothing company, so it's just what I know. I never considered or even though of modeling as a thing. I grew up in a small town on the east coast, with not much to do but play sports or surf. I was surrounded by corn fields. Luckily I had the ocean to save me. When I moved to Los Angeles random people would come up to me daily and ask if I was an actor or a model and that's when the idea of modeling sparked on my head.  I then submitted To agencies, signed to a small one, and was going to give it a go, but before I could even go to my first casting, my I had a surfing accident where my surfboard hit me in the eye. It split my eyelid in half, I got 13 stitches, and my eye was swollen shut for a monthly then gradually healed. About 5 months later I luckily had a full recovery. At that point I was pretty involved with my photography work and didn't see any point in trying modeling again. Then I was scouted by FORD models at Agenda Tradeshow in Long Beach and that sparked the whole modeling thing again.



Wow, that's an awesome story. You mentioned you were working under rocky Barnes. What type of things did she teach you? 

 That was one of the best experiences of my life. I did everything. That is where I really refined my photography skills. I was shooting her multiple days a week. I was able to assist her on shoots for big clients like L Space and Guess. I learned a lot about brand relations, and social media strategy. And how to monetize social media. I met countless awesome people through her that I still keep in touch with and work with today. And she's  a bad ass. I saw her hustle so hard. Traveling for jobs like 28/30 days of the month. Hitting 5 countries back to back, and still managing social media collaborations and a blog. And she is a beach girl at heart. So pretty mellow and down to earth.


   Crazy. So what do you look for when a brand approaches you for work?

For photography I'm not as picky. Since I am behind the lens rather than in front of it. If someone is good to work with and pays, cool. Let's make some magic together. 

 For modeling and influencer jobs, I am very picky. Because you will be judged by how you are portrayed by that company and another photographer. Influencer and social media collabs are the most important to me to keep myself. Because I don't want to put anything on my platform I don't believe in.



 Do you prefer photography or modeling?

That's hard. If the brand is a good fit and I am doing more lifestyle based imagery, I love being in front of the camera. I get so much energy from it. Like if I did a surf trip for a company and they shot me doing what I actually do, it's the best. Catching good waves, experiencing a cool culture, jumping off cliffs- getting my adrenaline going. But, I feel the same way if I have full creative control over a photo shoot. To me, the best case scenario for either is to narrow the production down to be as simple as possible. Just the photographer and the subject, one camera, one lens, in a unique location that inspires creativity. And go.  

But to answer your question. If I could shoot a Gucci campaign, or model a Gucci campaign. I would rather direct it. If I am able to direct it and photograph it, then that is the best case scenario. 


My end goal is to be a creative director.  I have endless ideas and to be able to produce something from an idea in my head, to reality, with a team- is the end goal.


Creative director is definitely an awesome position to have. You said you are also really into fashion. What are your favorite brands at the moment? 

  Yea. I feel lame saying fashion. I'm more intrigued by style, and how you are able to pair certain items, and colors together to all look good together. For example, matching an accent of blue on a shirt with your socks, or the detailed patching on your jacket with your shirt. At the end of the day the right person and how they carry and present themselves can make an outfit you would typically think would go together look dope. And on the other spectrum of things, someone with no swag at all can make even the best outfit ever look whack.

I think Gucci is killing it right now. I love their designs, and they  progressive on how they market it. People standing in a room with tigers, lions biting purse. They did a marketing campaign based off of memes.  Never seen that done before. Saint Laurent is a favorite. Sandro has some swaggy long coats and sweaters. Off-White, but I actually like the girls designs more than the guys. Saturday's NYC in regards to how clean their brand and marketing is. Ian Connor's company or whatever it is is pretty rad. Revengexstorm. They are playing off the legendary design of vans and throwing a twist on it. They have some hype going. I recently walked into an acne studios store and was very inspired. Common Projects is on point.



I can tell that you stay up to date on brands and things like that. Have you ever thought about getting into clothing? 

Design just really interests me so I enjoy following it. Especially through clothing.  Yes, I have almost done my own clothing production many times in the past. Something keeps holding me back because I'm a perfectionist. I am feeling pretty confident lately and hope to begin my own company within the next year.


What style of clothing would it be? High end? Streetwear? 

I want to start with some some merch type product inspired by me and my photography. I have a cool fan base for my photography that always ask questions about my work and keep me stoked. It would play on that. Tees, patches, camera accessories, etc.  I want to learn from that then launch a street style and travel inspired mid-tier company when I'm ready. Probably tees in the $40-$50 range. Also, if you're looking to add some flavor to your wardrobe, check out DUVIN Design Company. They are my friends and half my closet is their gear.


Going back to earlier, you said you moved out to LA whenever you graduated. Was that a tough transition for you? 

Yea. At first I hated it. I never planned on moving to Los Angeles. I was just staying there temporarily while I interviewed for marketing jobs in Orange County. I stayed at my buddies in LA, because he was one of the only people I knew. It started growing on me and the combination of meeting the right people early on, and not landing a marketing job right away is what ultimately kept me up here. 


I'm sure you still travel pretty often right? 

Yea I travel a ton.  As much as I can. Luckily my girlfriend travels a lot for work and needs a photographer. It works out really well.



So is your girlfriend a model as well? 

No. She started in YouTube and does sketch comedy. That has transitioned into other opportunities like writing a book, acting, and social collaborations.   She's not signed to a modeling agency but she definitely knows how to work a camera.


You said you stared out with a point and shoot then moves to a DSLR. What type of camera do you use now? 

I started with a canon point and shoot. iPhones these days have better cameras then what I started with. I then got the canon rebel 2ti which I used for about two years before upgrading to a canon 5D mkiii. That is still my go to camera for anything digital and jobs I am hired to shoot. My favorite is either one of my two point and shoot 35mm film cameras. I have an Olympus and a Minolta that I love. About a year after getting my canon rebel, my brother got me into shooting film and I got a canon AE-1 35mm film camera. It is manual and I shoot that almost exclusively for months until I learned the ins and outs of shooting manual and the technical aspects of how a camera works. That really helped me understand my digital camera and photography.


 This will always be one of my favorite images I have ever captured. It was shot with the canon AE-1, and was one of the first frames I shot on the first roll of film I ever shot. 


I currently have a t3i and hope to shoot film someday. What are your plans for the rest of this year? 

What are you waiting for? Go buy a camera and start! 

I'm going to New York later his week for some meetings, then home to Maryland for my cousins wedding. I'm back in LA for two weeks, then the hamptons for a social collaboration trip. Then Miami swim week end of July for a social media collaboration. I have a clothing collaboration with DUVIN coming out in July. As well as a collaboration piece with Hoffman Supply Co. around the same time. I hope to launch a store on my blog with mercy by august.  Between that all, booking whatever photo shoot and modeling jobs I can. I would love to do Europe this summer. I turn 25 July 1st so that's kinda cool. Quarter century. Holla.


Happy early birthday! Sounds like you have a packed summer for sure. Do you have any last thoughts or comments?