Adam Karnacz

Venturing to remote locations, one photographer strives to inspire a diverse following to explore the art of photography, adventure and the human condition. Drawing on his philosophical approach to life, Adam’s photography goes beyond technique or literal representation of a scene to tell a story that resonates and inspires.

Where it began

Adam grew up surrounded by the moors, hills and forests of North Yorkshire.  His love and appreciation of the outdoors were formed in many happy hours exploring and adventuring in those surroundings: finding the pleasure and solace to be had in simply being immersed in nature and enjoying the landscape around him.

His journey as a photographer started at the age of three when he won a camera in a colouring competition in a local newspaper. But, it wasn’t until he was 16 and on a trip to America with his best friend’s family that he was introduced to the world and icons of landscape photography. Travelling through the Yosemite National Park, he was continually asking to stop the car so he could capture yet another image of the amazing scenery and the manifestations of the power of nature that surrounded them.  So much so that his friend’s Mum nicknamed him ‘Ansell Adams’ who was to go on to be a source of inspiration throughout his photography journey. 

Adam’s interest in the art of photography became a perfect partner to his love of technology, and during his early adult life he combined the two into an understanding of how the subject, the camera and the growing opportunities provided by digital technology can work together to capture a moment in time and tell a powerful story.

The call to serve

For some years photography, whilst still an important part of his life, remained a hobby as, in 2005, Adam joined the Police, moving to London and starting his career on the beat in the Metropolitan force. During his early years as a Police Officer, Adam observed the full spectrum of human behaviour.  This included moments of national tragedy such as the 7/7 London bombings, horrific acts of violence, terrible accidents, deplorable mistreatment of children, thousands of unhappy or violent domestic situations, and human stupidity on an almost unbelievable level. However, all these were tempered by the terrific acts of kindness, bravery and heroism he also witnessed on many occasions.  It was during these eventful and challenging years that Adam developed a philosophy of life which feeds into everything he does today both as a person and a photographer. 

Unfortunately, in 2008 the economy crashed and was followed by years of budget cuts. These filtered down to the Police by about 2011 and after that things were never quite the same.  Adam believed passionately in proactive policing and working with communities rather than the reactive responses that budget cuts dictated.  It was at this point he began to contemplate the possibility of a change of career and so in 2014, soon to become a father for the second time, he decided to give up his role as sergeant and moved to West Yorkshire in pursuit of a more affordable lifestyle with greater and easier access to the countryside, which he felt was important both for his future plans and for his own wellbeing and that of his young family.

Risking it all

During the next four years, he set about building up his photography into a business that was viable enough to support his family.  Working a full-time job, serving his young family’s needs, and trying to build his business taught Adam a great deal about the determination, resilience, and sheer hard work that is needed to pursue your goals.  By early 2018, he had built his photography business to a point where he felt he could take the risk of leaving the Police and becoming a full-time professional photographer. 

A large part of the early success of his business was building up his YouTube channel, First Man Photography, to the point where he was reaching tens of thousands of people every week with his videos. These videos started off as tutorials but very quickly developed into a sharing of his experiences, his love of the outdoors and landscape photography, and in fostering that love in other people.

As a police officer Adam was immersed with people from all walks of life and developed into a skilled communicator. However being in front of camera presented Adam with a new and steep learning curve as he developed his presentations in the early days of his channel. He came to realise that successful vlogging was much more like documentary making and, as he honed his abilities as a broadcaster and presenter, so his channel continued to thrive.

As of January 2021 the First Man Photography YouTube Channel had 135k subscribers, 250k views a month and 1.5 million minutes watched per month. 

A philosophical approach

What sets Adam apart is the philosophy on life and on mental wellbeing that he weaves into much of his commentary and his work.  His global reach evidences this, as do the thousands of appreciative comments he receives from all over the world describing the inspiration, the encouragement and the solace his work provides.  

He is a storyteller, crafting his journeys through the landscape into meaningful and fulfilling experiences which he shares with others through both his finished artworks and his films.

He is an adventurer, camping wild and alone on the highest of mountains and venturing out in the bleakest of terrains and weathers; in a never-ending pursuit of the perfect photograph  at the perfect time to create a piece of artwork which tells the story and captures the emotion of the place, the feeling and the moment.

Adam’s photography goes beyond technique or a literal representation of a scene but it is about the intent, the thought process, and the creative vision which makes the end printed product more meaningful to himself; and one which captures an emotion, an idea, or tells a story which will resonate with the end viewer, or purchaser of the picture.

Adam does this very successfully, tying his philosophy of life, his experiences and his love of the natural world into the photographs he produces: then mastering the printing and processing techniques to best complement, enhance and perfectly match his original intent and the story he wishes to tell into the final piece of artwork.

Global reach

Testament to Adam’s success are the prints he has sold all over the world to people who appreciate the beauty, the emotion his work evokes, and the passion portrayed within his work. Adam occasionally ventures into other genres of photography and in 2019 he won the People’s Choice Award at the British Photography Awards with a Water Drop piece entitled Veil.

Adam is also a passionate educator and in 2019 founded an online photography platform called the Raw Room, providing online masterclasses, including the very successful and sought after Landscape Photography Masterclass, tutorials, photo challenges, podcasts and a wide range of other content. 

He has an excellent reputation for making the technical aspects of photography easy to understand and helping others to improve their skills; and he loves nothing better than doing this in the midst of beautiful scenery in Great Britain and further afield.

Adam is a sought after and accomplished speaker, delivering a wide range of talks that never fail to leave his audience inspired. HIs stories from the streets of London to venturing alone in remote locations speak of his resilience and determination to follow a dream, but also demonstrate what can be achieved through hard work, a little curiosity and an empathetic approach to the people we encounter. He is constantly in demand to; appear at commercial events, guest lecture at universities, speak at camera clubs, and appear on podcasts.

Image by Sven-Dietmar Schmidt

The personal touch

Although Adam crafts photographs of the landscape and nature, at the heart of his work is the human connection and the wide range of opportunities this provides to collaborate on projects. Within a very short time of becoming a full-time professional he was working with other renowned photographers such as Charlie Waite and Joe Cornish and working with brands such as Fujifilm, HP, Polar Pro, Lexar and many others.

Above all else Adam’s passion and enthusiasm for photography is infectious and he works tirelessly to encourage a love of the landscape and nature in others.  His skill set is wide and covers a broad spectrum but at the core of everything he does is the desire tell stories, lift up those around him, take on challenges and inspire a diverse following to explore the art of photography, adventure and the human condition.

Explore Adam’s work.

Second Nature

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