On the very last day of January, I had the pleasure of taking an Out of Auto photography workshop taught by Adam and Sarah, of Adam Mullins Photography. The class was held at Pastiche at Main (a favorite space of mine, as you know), and throughout the 5-hour class, we learned the basic fundamentals of taking a camera out of auto mode in order to shoot exclusively in manual. Despite the fact that I’ve been shooting in manual for a couple of years now, I still learned a ton of new concepts and tricks to make my do-it-myself, at-home photography a little more professional.
After getting to know the dynamic duo behind the brand Adam Mullins Photography, I couldn’t help but beg them to come on the blog today to share their perspectives on being photographers, parents to three kiddos and a little about their lives as creatives living here in central Virginia. Peppered between Adam’s responses, you’ll see the photos that Sarah snapped of all of us rapt with attention during the photography workshop. Take it away Adam…
The two of you are married in addition to being business partners! How did you meet? How do you co-manage all that goes into Adam Mullins Photography?
We met while working at a local summer camp in college. She worked on the ranch with horses and I was a camp counselor. I graduated, got married and started working full-time at the camp in 2009 while Sarah finished school. When Sarah finished school in 2011, she took on all the emails, booking and marketing of Adam Mullins Photograpy while I worked (and we lived) at the camp. So essentially, what began as just myself taking pictures, transformed into Sarah taking pictures with me and doing everything else as well.
In 2013, we had a baby boy and adopted two siblings we had been fostering for a year—all within a few months. With suddenly having three children, working (and living) at a summer camp was no long feasible, so we bought a house and began to do photography full-time.
I now manage all that goes into teaching classes and building/selling frames at Pastiche while Sarah still manages all the communication with our photography business. It works out well because we both have our roles but work very closely together.
As you mention on your website, you, Adam, are more techie whereas, Sarah, you are more interested in the romantic side of things. How would you describe your different styles and techniques, and how do these distinctions naturally contribute to the overall style of Adam Mullins Photography as a brand.
Our personalities are what really make us unique as a photography team. I love flashy lights and high contrast images while Sarah loves capturing the romantic moments in natural light; but when looking at our final images, all the images flow and work really well together. While I may set up five wireless flashes and light modifiers, Sarah will just shoot with a simple 50mm and natural light.
When we first started, our brand was pretty masculine because I was the only one taking pictures and Sarah was not as involved. Once she graduated from school and took over pretty much…everything…we quickly found out that brides, high school seniors and moms, all relate to Sarah and a more cute and feminine brand. We hired Shelby Goodman from Honeysuckle (who sells prints and vintage items at Pastiche) to rebrand our business and that is really what jumpstarted us and allowed us both to go full-time into photography.
Tell us about your custom framing operation. How did this idea evolve into such an integral part of your business? Where do you source your one-of-a-kind materials?
I’ve always loved building and working with my hands (AKA, playing with legos). In 2013, our friends Haley and Adam Pavao began talking about opening a shop for local creatives that would later become Pastiche. Sarah and I were both very interested. I talked with Haley about possibly putting some of my landscape prints up at Pastiche and maybe making some frames for them. I started in my basement with a circular saw and drill my dad had given to me. Today, I have a workshop in my backyard dedicated to building frames (and furniture) and now have made and sold hundreds of unique frames through Pastiche.
I get my wood from wherever I can. I have pulled lath wood from old buildings in downtown Lynchburg, I have used pallet wood from about a dozen different local businesses, I have used barn wood from the camp I used to work at and I also have used scrap wood from a local cabinet store. Pretty much anything and everything is fair game for Adam Mullins Photography.
How do you stay fresh and consistent? Where do you find your inspiration?
Pretty much any and everything successful I have ever done is because of my wonderful wife, that’s why I got for me and her intention bracelets, she give me my intention in life and so on. Our photography business was transformed from a hobby I did on the side to a full-time job for both of us once she took over the business and branding side of it. Sarah always has new ideas for my frames and she is always asking me to build her things (recently that has been cutting boards). Chances are, if it is in Pastiche, it is because Sarah asked me to make her one at some point.
Working at Pastiche also is super inspiring. I am surrounded with over 20 creative minds and customers who constantly challenge me with new custom order ideas.
(Photos courtesy Sarah Mullins)