Don’t Take Anything to the Grave with You

Don’t Take Anything to the Grave with You

An Interview with photographer, Adam Sain

Interview by Jeremy Lux, article written by Eric Gasa

Hopping on a 36-hour bus ride to New York City with nothing but a camera, backpack and your hopes and dreams may sound a bit too carefree or risky for some, but when you’re 23 years old and your Adam Sain sometimes that’s exactly what life calls for. It’s the stuff of Salinger and at least a few Simon & Garfunkel songs, but sometimes coming of age and seeing the world is just a few Greyhound tickets away. Sometimes it’s all you need to find yourself too.

For Life in Motion, Jeremy Lux chats with Adam Sain, Illumine Collect’s resident photographer, on taking chances, almost getting abducted by an Uber, and the 36-hour bus ride across the country that sparked a new passion.

“I hate talking about myself,” starts Sain, “…I’ve only been doing photography-videography for a little over a year and a half and it’s become my life, man.”

Sain, now 24, is a recent Texas A&M graduate where he double majored in finance and received a degree in entrepreneurship. If it sounds like he has a lot ahead of him Sain was also shipping out for Army basic training in four days at the time of this interview. But moreover, he considers himself a photographer first and foremost.

“I hate to say that any one thing defines me but [photography] has become a defining thing in my life that I would like to be recognized for,” says Sain.

As for his double major in finance Sain is a little less enthusiastic; “It’s not my favorite and I got a degree in it.”

All the number-crunching and grooming for corporate America is probably what pushed Sain out the door and across the country. His plan was straightforward, the Greyhound trip was just the beginning:

“So, I was working at a bank, I had a couple thousand in savings, and I was out of work for about a week. I really like to travel, and I thought I should document that…” explains Sain, “…I would shoot a bunch of stuff, somebody would like it, somebody would pay me, then boom. Income. Never have to work again.”

This trip was going to kickstart Sain’s portfolio. Sain spent about 80% of his savings on a new camera he didn’t know how to use and bought a bus ticket from Amarillo, Tx to Washington DC where he would then hitch a ride to New York City and back.

Sain’s first lesson on the trip? Don’t hate on Greyhound.

“Everybody’s like ‘Oh, Greyhound, probably murderers, drug dealers…’ but it’s really not that bad,” he explains, “It’s just people that are really broke and have no means of transportation,” continues Sain, “I might have been approached like maybe two to three times where guys are like, ‘Hey, just out of jail, got any money?’ I'm like, ‘dude, I'm on the same bus as you are, why would I have any money?’”

Then there’s the strange intervals, interrupted sleep schedules and waiting at bus stations for hours at a time, Sain likens it to a “long term DMV experience.”

But even with all the hang ups, Sain’s Greyhound experience wasn’t as bizarre as the run-in he had with an Uber in DC.

A long story short, an ill-fated 2 am Uber ride from DC to Virginia turned into a short nightmare when Sain’s driver veered off into the shady part of DC and tried to take his phone. When Sain tried to leave the car, the lady refused. At one point, Sain debated jumping out while the car was moving, but at a short stop he made his getaway and booked it to the nearest gas station. The Uber tailed him close behind.

“I run inside and yell at the cashier, ‘Dude this car is following me, and I think they just tried to kidnap me’,” Sain says, “Another Uber pulled up and he gave me a ride back to Virginia. We didn’t say a word the whole time.”

After the trip, Sain became more involved with his photography and building up his portfolio. He got right to work editing all the shots he got on his journey. Now he does work for companies like Illumine Collect and shoots portraiture for events and families. Much of his exposure he can credit to word of mouth and Instagram.

Lux admits to finding Sain’s work from a hashtag on Instagram.

“The whole idea of social media is comical, but profitable and awesome in the same regard,” adds Sains.

He enjoys being his own boss. For Sain work isn’t work at all if you enjoy what you do and being in charge of his work is part of that enjoyment. Though being an entrepreneur has its risks it sounds like he would never trade the opportunity.

“I think fear and regret are the two biggest things that hold people back,” says Sain, “Don’t settle into a mundane life because that what’s society has built around you.”

Lux asks Sain what daily routine he would recommend anyone to make the world better. Sain’s response is simple yet reasonable:

“Just drink more coffee,” he says jokingly, “That would be the solution. We’d have happier people, wouldn’t be grouchy in the morning, eliminate road rage…I just wish people would be nice to each other. Just every morning be nice.”

For Sain, part of being nice to others is being nice to yourself. As he puts it, life is too short to be walked on.

“Be the door,” Sain says, “not the doormat.”

He paraphrases a quote from Denzel Washington; “Whatever money you have now spend it in some advantageous manner, don’t take any money to the grave with you. The Egyptians tried but they got robbed. Don’t take anything to the grave with you.”


For more info on Adam Sain and his work, check out his Instagram, @adamsainphoto and Facebook page, Adam Sain Photography. To hear the full details of Sains’ adventure, be sure to listen to Illumine Collect’s Life in Motion podcast with Jeremy Lux on iTunes.

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