Brian Adams is a photographer born and raised in Alaska. “I love Alaskans; I love documenting them. My heart is really in rural Alaska, especially the residents of the villages,” he said. Adams has a deep family connection that draws him to his subjects. His father’s side of the family is originally from Kivalina, a small village of 350 souls on the northwest coast of Alaska. Adams grew up in Girdwood and Anchorage, skateboarding, “I wasn’t raised in the villages, but my photography is a way for me to connect and feel closer to my culture,” he said. In 2013, the University of Alaska Press released I Am Alaskan, a book of Adams’ medium-format portraits covering a ten-year span. The volume is a purposefully broad view of his home state, Adams choosing to show a diverse group which includes village residents and blue collar workers alongside artists, writers, and musicians. Adams’ work illustrates that modern Alaska has a lot more to offer than that freezing temperatures, oil, and wildlife. The images are vibrant and striking; the subjects appear in contrast to the stark backdrop of Alaska’s rugged natural landscapes. Above all, the images capture the spirit and uniqueness of those that choose to call “the last frontier” home.
For his most recent project, I am Inuit, Adams partnered with the Inuit Circumpolar Council of Alaska. The idea was to connect the world with Alaskan Inuit people (Inupiat, Yup'ik, Cup'ik, and St. Lawrence Island Yupik) and the Arctic. At times it was an arduous task since most of the villages are only accessible by bush plane. “I traveled to about twenty villages over a one year span,” he said. “I would gather as many portraits and interviews as possible and share it all on social media.” Adams started to see similarities between villages, “It takes a special kind of person to live in Alaska full-time,” he said. The project is a strong look at communities that most people are never exposed to. The images and stories are rich, eye-opening, and informative. By choosing to post the project live online, it reaches a much larger audience, allowing the world to discover Alaska with a few clicks. The winters in Alaska are long, dark, and cold, so most locals look forward to the summers when days are seemingly never-ending. For a photographer like Adams, there is no place he would rather spend the warmer months. “When you wake up it’s already light when you go to bed the sun is just setting," he said. "You can shoot forever. I love that."