Adam Schallau is an artist working in the medium of photography creating fine art prints of the American landscape. His photographs have been used by Apple, National Audubon Society, Grand Canyon Association, the National Park Service and many others. His work has appeared on the covers of magazines, calendars, music CDs, and in numerous publications, including Arizona Highways, Cowboys & Indians, Sunset Magazine, Backpacker Magazine, New Mexico Magazine, and Men’s Journal. In July 2014 Adam released his first book, Chasing the Light – Grand Canyon.
Adam’s work has been highly-recognized earning top awards in many contests, he is a recipient of the Luminous Landscape Endowment, and he was an Artist-in-Residence at Grand Canyon National Park. His fine art prints are in personal and corporate collections across the world, and they have been exhibited in numerous galleries, museums, and national parks.
Perhaps what is most important to Adam is that his work has been used in support of environmental and conservation awareness issues. Some of the most enriching experiences he’s had in the outdoors is time spent volunteering with youth programs including the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the Stewart Udall Foundation’s Parks in Focus program, and the Grand Canyon Field School’s Artists as Ambassadors program.
My passion is the wide-open spaces of the American landscape and its ever changing palette of light, shadow, color, shape, and form. It offers unparalleled challenges and generous rewards for the photographer that keeps their eyes and heart open to when all of these elements combine to create a decisive moment in time. I strive to reveal intimate details and awe inspiring vistas while working in the margins of light as the landscape comes to life.
Adam was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1974 and was raised in Iowa and Texas. He began creating art at an early age, mostly painting oils of classic American landscapes after being inspired by the sights he experienced while on trips across the western United States with his grandparents and an aunt. These trips offered him an opportunity to experience the wide open spaces, towering mountain ranges, and deep canyons of the national parks and other public lands of the American West. It was these trips that instilled in him a sense of exploration, and a strong appreciation for our wild spaces.
In 1992 at the age 18 Adam moved from the Hill Country of central Texas to a high-altitude environmental field research station near Crested Butte, Colorado where he worked as a tracker on a project studying the movement of marmot colonies. In his free time he explored the mountains, valleys, and streams in the area. It was while he was living in Colorado that he was introduced to the art of landscape photography. With a strong back and good knees, Adam served as a “sherpa” to a local photographer often carrying large-format photography equipment high into the Colorado Mountains.
After moving back to Texas, Adam worked in retail while volunteering with the Civil Air Patrol where he served as a squadron commander, and held many positions on search and rescue teams both as an aircrew member, and ground team leader while pursuing a career in aviation. On a winter day with temperatures hovering around freezing, Adam was sitting in his car at a red light in his car at a red light when an out-of-control bus careened through the intersection, spun 180 degrees and collided with his vehicle and several others. He survived the accident, but ended up with back problems that resulted in periods in the years afterwards when he would experience debilitating pain which would confine him to his bed.
A couple of years after the accident his back was beginning to feel much better, but he realized that sitting in the cockpit of an aircraft for hours on end might not be the best thing for his back and decided it was time for a change. It was time to pursue a new career. It was at about this time that Adam and his wife, Sally, had begun making trips out west to visit the mountains, and canyonlands of the Four Corners region. Along the way he was creating many photos and beginning to rediscover his creative spirit.
In late 2000, after another trip out west, Adam made a visit to Capitol Camera in San Antonio to pickup the film he had dropped off for processing a week earlier. When he walked into the store, he saw photos of places he had visited, such as Monument Valley, the Mountains of Colorado, Mesa Verde, and Grand Canyon, printed and in frames. The photos looked great and as he studied them he realized these were his photos. Two of the store’s salespeople, Prudy and Bruce, had been mentoring Adam for the past year, providing encouragement, sharing knowledge, and giving his work some direction. They liked what they had seen and surprised him by framing the photos.
Adam continued to study the art of photography and would shoot whenever h could. By 2001 he was beginning to discover just how much he loved creating photos and being outdoors, and being active was doing wonders for the problems with his back. By May 2001, with the love and support of their family, Adam and Sally packed up and moved to Taos, New Mexico in pursuit of a career as an artist.
Taos was an incredible place to pursue art as the town is an artist colony full of creative and interesting people. They lived one block from the historic St. Francis de Asis church, the church that Georgia O’Keeffe painted and Ansel Adams photographed. They were dirt-poor at the time, and couldn’t afford to travel much, but nearly every day after work Adam would walk to the church to study the light, texture, shape and form. If everything looked right, he would snap a frame or two. At the end of the month, he had just enough surplus funds in the bank to develop his film and study the work. It was a great way to learn photography.
The Grand Canyon
Adam made his first trip to Grand Canyon National Park in 1999. He found the landscape before him to be overwhelmingly beautiful, but also incredibly challenging to photograph. With limited photographic experience at the time, and no knowledge of the park he left frustrated, but he knew he would return someday.
In May 2008 Adam and Sally were traveling across the southwest when a snowstorm made travel very difficult. They ended up detouring from their original plans and found their way to the Grand Canyon where they experienced the magic of a strong storm system and the affect it could have on the landscape. Adam spent 5 days photographing the canyon in incredible conditions, the type of light, weather, and atmosphere that probably would have made Albert Bierstadt or Thomas Moran smile. It was during this trip that Adam learned of the National Park Service’s Artist-in-Residence program, and upon returning home to Taos he promptly applied for a coveted spot in the Grand Canyon Artist-in-Residence program.
In October of that year Adam received a letter informing him that he was to be one of only three people that had been accepted to be an Artist-in-Residence on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon for the upcoming year. The Artist-in-Residence program provided the opportunity to concentrate on creative endeavors, while allowing Adam to contribute to supporting the park’s mission. Further, it allowed him to form a bond with the landscape that has become his artistic home. Adam is so very thankful for the staff and park rangers that shared their favorite locations with him, and he can’t say enough about what this program has meant to him.
Three years later Adam and Sally packed up their belongings and relocated to northern Arizona to be closer to the Grand Canyon. The move has allowed Adam to focus his efforts on learning as much as possible about the park. He now spends on average over 70 days a year photographing the Grand Canyon. When he’s not photographing the canyon, he is working on expanding his portfolio, leading workshops, and exploring the wild lands of the American West.