Off the Ground
Expect the Unexpected

WORDS BY Heather L. Young Photos By Adam Leland

Sometimes, life changes course and you end up on a fortuitous journey. Adam Leland is on that kind of course.

An Air Force veteran from Tennessee, Adam made his way to the Lowcountry in 2012 via Gulf Stream. Fine art photography was not on his radar. In fact, he purchased his drone with the intention of photographing construction sites–offering a bird’s eye view for builders to keep track of their projects. From construction progress reports to roof inspections, Adam keeps busy working with the view from above at A-Frame Aerials, but says lately he aims to keep his days balanced between work and his new found love of aerial photography.

“I didn’t think I’d get into photography, but it’s almost therapeutic. Which maybe sounds weird,” he laughs, but I don’t think it’s weird at all.

Getting off the ground

Adam has a natural eye for composition and background, which has proven to be a positive for the stunning results he creates. His sister, a graphic designer that minored in photography, initially helped him edit but then pushed him to learn the trade for himself. He’s spent hours watching YouTube tutorials, eager to learn about the principles of good design and proper editing.

Photographs of the Talmadge Bridge at sunrise and a festively green-lit River Street after dark are just a few of the cityscapes he’s explored. The Forsyth Park Fountain looks nothing like what you’d imagine from the ground—his shot a geometric spin on an iconic Savannah image. I could spend hours marveling over the composition of rooftops he’s discovered in flight. The view from some otherwise unaccessible angles reveals patterns, shapes, and relationships in the landscape that are invisible from the ground, providing a fresh perspective on familiar subjects.

My personal favorites are his marshscapes of Richmond Hill that read like abstract paintings. He’s photographed them in all seasons, noted the changes in the marsh colors, and given us all a new angle to take in our beloved coastline. It’s no surprise that one of his images made the juried Art in Bloom Competition recently hosted by Arts on the Coast.

“I pick a spot and I go there; it’s peaceful. It’s quiet—nobody’s around, it’s just me, doing my thing.” Adam explains. “I spent so much time admiring the view from an airplane. My drone has given me the opportunity to get back up there and capture it this time.”

Curiosity is what sparks most artists and its fun to see a relatively new medium taking hold. It’s also exciting to see artists emerge from unexpected places. As Adam puts it, he is “changing the perspective from a few hundred feet up.”

For more of his work, find him on Instagram@aframeaerials