AGENTS OF THE UNDERGROUND
We caught up with Minnesota photographer, Adam Degross and he dropped a counter-cultural bomb on us. Enjoy.
The photos you shared with us are really up close and personal. how’d you gain that intimate access?
It comes from years of building trust with people, and gaining their respect. I don't shoot for anyone usually. I just do it for the love of documenting subcultures and artists, I think people respect that, and they allow me into their world.
Black Flag or Minor Threat?
Tough... Black Flag is undeniable, even with all the lineup changes (up until recently) plus their art can't be beat. I honestly think if I saw Minor Threat, I'd lose it from start to finish. I'm gonna go with Minor Threat, they were only a band for like a year, they did their thing, and called it a day. Respect.
Who were you before you picked up a camera? How’d that moment change the course of your life?
I started shooting when I was 18 (I'm 30 now) so it's hard to remember what it was like before I started shooting. I was quiet, except around my friends, always trying to fit in, find my place, typical angsty teen things. I was always creative, spent a lot of time alone, but felt like I saw things in a different way, but could never channel it until I got a camera. Taking photos gave me an outlet, a voice, a way for the world to see things how I saw them. It gave me confidence, and the ability to interact with people. It also allowed me to hide in social situations that made me feel uncomfortable. I never really like to talk about it, but being around crowds can make me anxious, and having the camera there allowed me to escape. I could hide behind the lens, and people wouldn't bother me, they thought I was working or just doing weird photo stuff. Don't get me wrong, I love people, and being social. I can get in my head, but the camera helped alot. With the new confidence I had from becoming a photographer, I was able to throw myself into new situations, because I had a purpose. It's paid off more than I ever thought it would. Now my photos are seen by thousands of people, Pabst Blue RIbbon is using my photos for their cans, I work with some of the most well known rappers in the world, it's unreal.
How do you see your life today as opposed to what you envisioned for yourself as a kid?
I never thought it would be like this, who can imagine that your dreams would come true? Everyone wishes it would happen, but when it happens, it doesn't even feel real. As a kid I always hoped I'd do something unique, but growing up I was picked on alot, so it drains your confidence, so I never really thought I'd have a happy future because at the time I was so unhappy. Now my life is pretty good, I feel very rewarded. I'm lucky that people picked up on my vision and show my photos respect. I'm nowhere near financially successful, but so what, I've accomplished my dreams, and I can't explain how happy it's made me.
Who is inspiring you right now?
It's always hard to admit but I don't really have favorite photographers, there are some I really like, who constantly put out great work, but I always felt like if I watched a certain photographer, my style would start to emulate theirs. I do really enjoy instagram, I love seeing how many people are taking up photography and pushing the boundaries. I feel like I'm just inspired by raw energy, and people in general. People inspire me the most, hence why I love documenting shows, It's pure energy, and there's just something about seeing people live in the moment
Where do you call home? Does your location play a role in your creativity?
I'm from Minnesota, grew up in Burnsville, a suburb about 20 minutes south of the cities (all the best punks come from the suburbs lol) but I live in Minneapolis now. I think I've gotten as far as I have because I'm from Minnesota, we used to have a very close scene, everyone knew everyone, and we all got along. We were unique when it came to mixing genres, shows would go from pop punk, to hardcore, oi, to crust, and everyone was cool. The venues were easy to contact, and work with. Minneapolis was a great place to get my foot in the door. We are our own little island, trapped between fly over states, we got things later, but we also developed our own unique style, and did things in a different way it feels like.
Anyone you’ve crossed paths with that made a major impact on you as an artist?
I'm going to say Asap Ferg changed the game for me. Having someone like that believe in my work enough to take me on tour with him, and direct/shoot videos for him, has made me become more professional. Other than Ferg, I can't really put my finger on anyone.
Is it important to you to be a part of a creative community or are you more of a lone wolf?
Lone wolf, you can make your own mistakes, and you have no one to blame but yourself.
What drives you to keep pushing forward?
I enjoy the surprise of what's around the corner, im addicted to it I think. What big thing is next? Who knows? That's why I keep pushing, to find out what's next. I also have fans now, I don't wanna let them down.
What is one of the biggest challenges you face?
All the red tape that comes with shooting bigger venues, getting photo passes, etc. I'm rare, because I never shoot for publications, I shoot for myself or the artist, so if I were to write the venue or the artists pr, they would decline me because I'm not shooting for anyone. My photos have to carry weight, I have to be able to get a hold of the artists themselves, and show them my stuff, and usually they want me there because they want photos from me. It can be very stressful, even when you're well known, you still have to jump through hoops.
Are you happy with your work?
I once shot a festival with over 100 other photographers documenting it, some from the biggest publications in the world, but at the end of the day, 50% out of the 37 performers exclusively used my photos for their social media. That's when I really knew I was onto something, but did that make me feel happy or content? No. I don't think any serious artist ever feels completely satisfied with their work.
There is no plan b, I'm going to make it.
Aside from photography, do you have any other creative outlets?
Not really to tell you the truth. I'm 100% invested in my photos.
Favorite web resources?
Instagram and Tumblr for sure.
The Pabst Blue Ribbon cans with my photos come out in April, going on tour with Asap Ferg on select dates in May/June, filming a documentary in July, then after that, who knows, sky's the limits.