There are few photographers throughout history who have ever been able to put a subject at ease without hours of preparation. Charles Adams is one among the few who does not need to spend time preparing to capture the subject. The legendary Marlon Brando who always shyed away from the camera, once told Charles Adams “you look as if you were born with a camera in you hand.” Brando was on stage at an event at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. Charles Adams asked the actor who once sang on Broadway in Guys and Dolls to smile. Brando ignored the request for Brando to smile was not in keeping the image he portrayed especially to a photographer aiming a camera. When controversial Brando left the stage he walked up to Charles Adams and smiled.
A few days before Marvin Gaye died he told Charles Adams, he felt at ease and had no worry how he looked. Gaye said ” you signal confidence when you aim that camera.” When Ray Charles was given his coveted star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame he heard Charles Adams speaking. He said in a loud voice I can’t see you Charles, but I can hear you. When Chuck Berry got his star he did his famous “Duck Walk” for Charles Adams.
When Bette Midler made her journey to Hollywood and was headlined at the Hollywood Bowl for a benefit she was unsure of herself. Charles Adams danced around the indomatable Bette photographing the singer-comedian as she sat going over her notes. Every now and then she would look up and smile. That was the first shooting of Bette in Hollywood. When that shooting was over Charles walked over to the diva who got her start in the New York Bath Houses and said “it is going to be OK! Bette smiled and said “I believe you.”
Whether it was Scatman Cruthers in the backyard of his home strumming a Bango or James Brown on stage giving his all to thousands of fans Charles Adams was there to record that moment in time through photography that was later shared throughout the world in magazines, newspapers and in exhibit.
Charles Adams photography found a place in the home of the late Sir Hugh Greene the president of the British Broadcasting Corporation. Many of the images of the celebrated have been made available to the public around the world through art galleries. Sculptor Bill Mack once told Charles Adams that his work was art, therefore it belonged in galleries of fine art.
When President Barack Obama was campaigning he made a stop in Carson City, Nevada. That stop was at the home of Charles Adams. When the President entered Charles’ home he took note of the all the photographs on the walls of Charles’ home. The President took special note of ‘The Champ” Muhammad Ali. The President said ‘he was my hero.” Charles Adams reached up and removed the photograph of Ali and signed it to the President.
During past year Charles Adams has been working on his book that will include the famous he has photographed over more than three decades. Many of those images tell a story of Hollywood that most people have never seen in photographs.
Our Story, Inc had the wonderful pleasure of talking with Mr. Adams and is pleased to share it with you…..
OSI – Where does your inspiration come from?
Adams – Inspiration comes from visual beauty, art, music, and love of life.
OSI – How did you become involved in photography?
Adams – I worked at Columbia Pictures in Hollywood for seven years, and decided that I was bored and needed a change. I was full of creative juice with no outlet for it. I had previously been a prop man and had become a Set Decorator’s assistant. This was for T.V. shows that have permanent sets. I dealt with the same things week after week. The Decorator that I assisted asked me if I thought I could go independent and
try my hand at being a Set Decorator for upcoming Pilot’s. I thought, why not. So I made the transition and felt free and creative. THEN THINGS SLOWED DOWN..I left California and went to France to visit some friends and while I was there, I took some photos of the beautiful landscapes in a village call Gorde. Upon returning to L,A, I had friends who suggested that I submit the photo’s to the Travel section of the L.A. Times. Viola, They liked the photo’s . That was the start of something new, as I realized there was far more independence in being a photographer. Since I had already worked in the Entertainment Industry, I had access to Stars that
magazines and Rag Sheets were interested in. I begin networking with Industry friends and photographing Stars and selling to Photo Agency’s and Magazine. Thus photography was born.
OSI – How long have you been a photographer?
Adams – I have been shooting almost 40 years.
Adams – M. Ali & M. Brando. These are two of the most exciting men in the world. One changed the way we looked at boxing, and the other changed the way we looked at acting. Each one had his own mindset and the ability to captivate the press and the public in a way that had never been done. I worshiped both of them.
OSI – What was your most proudest moment?
Adams – Having America’s first African American Candidate with the potential to win visit my home while he was on the Campaign trail for a meet and greet party has been one of the highlights of my life. Introducing him to 150 invited guest and hearing his stump speech, I enjoyed seeing him in my home and photographing him with my friends and neighbors. Barack Obama was a delightful guest and a man with vision beyond his years. His visit to my home was history in the making. I am extremely proud to have been asked to be a part of this historic visit.
OSI – What does the future hold for you?
Adams – I am now concentrating on getting some of all of the images of Legends, Icons, politicians and other famous people into books, and the new wing of the Smithsonian (African American Wing). I am no longer shooting so my desire is to get my work out there for all to enjoy.