Adam Golfer ’07 has built a career on many things: hard work, perseverance, talent—and even a few leaps of faith.
It began just before he graduated from MICA. After showing his portfolio and part of his senior thesis project to a contact in the magazine world, Golfer landed his fi rst freelance portrait assignment in New York.
From there, he met with more editors, all of whom told him the same thing. “I was 22 and still a student. They were all telling me I had potential, but to get work, it was good to be in New York.”
Golfer took a leap of faith and moved, working at a lighting rental company and pursuing small freelance assignments in a period he now calls “slow momentum.” He was hired for portraiture at fi rst and then landed his fi rst big job with Condé Nast’s W magazine. “They let me do my thing. What I mean by that is I don’t use big lights or production. I hang out with someone for an hour and then try to take interesting pictures,” Golfer explained. “I just go in with my camera and make it work out.”
Golfer began getting calls from other magazines interested in his signature style of natural portraiture. Over the past two years, he has had the opportunity to travel the world and take the portraits of celebrities he considers heroes, including John Waters, the quirky Baltimore-based fi lmmaker and author. “That was just incredible… to talk with him about life and take pictures,” he recalled.
While growing his freelance career, Golfer took another leap of faith, traveling to Germany to work on a self-funded project surrounding his grandparents, who are Holocaust survivors. “I came back to the states with this massive personal project that I was just doing for myself, and it opened a ton of doors for me professionally,” Golfer said. “It generated solo shows in DC and New York. I made that leap, and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”
From there, Golfer decided to pursue another project funded successfully through Kickstarter (see opposite page for more on MICA’s connection to Kickstarter). “The project was going to be about the ironic, weird, and violent things going on over in Israel and Palestine, but it evolved into the irony and tragedy in the daily life in the West Bank—the quiet side of life that has different facets that are both very normal and very dramatic.”
When Golfer came back to the states, he showed the work and landed more assignments. Then once again, he seized another opportunity.
“I was pitching a story about the West Bank to magazines with a friend—a writer—and there was interest but nothing really came of it. So I blindly bought a plane ticket and we went back. The second day we were there, we got an assignment with GQ magazine in Germany to cover the Palestinian Spring and nonviolent protests. The story paid for my plane ticket—and the original work I’d done previously over there,” he said. “I don’t know how any of it has happened. I’m getting to hang out with people I consider heroes. I fi nd ways to do personal work that’s very meaningful to me. I just follow my interests and take leaps. So far, it’s worked out.”