The Awakening

Marksteen Adamson

February 16, 2024

The photographer successfully took part in the Portrait of Britain 2021 and 2023 competitions, with individual motifs taken from this project. He spoke with us about the background to his portrait series.
The Awakening deals with the human spirit and its deep capacity to overcome challenges, trauma and obstacles, and to transform past behaviours into positive, new beginnings and approaches. In this manner, Adamson sees how the world can become a better place. 

LFI: How did you come up with the idea for this portrait series? What does the title, The Awakening, refer to?
Marksteen Adamson:
I’ve always been interested in the human condition and personal identity. How we grow in life and move into new identities as we learn more about ourselves and from others. I’m drawn to individuals who are going through or have been through adversity, challenges and hardships, but are fighting hard to get to where they believe they should be. It’s the power of the human spirit when it has focus, clarity and determination that inspires me. It’s the tribe I belong to. This new Awakening series is my attempt at capturing their vulnerability as well as their strength, empowering them to see their own greatness and affirming who they truly are.

What was your intention with this series? 
To explore the human spirit and its profound ability to overcome challenges, traumas and obstacles; and to use new learnings to convert past behaviour into positive, new beginnings and actions, that the individuals are making, and that inspires others to achieve more in life and to always reach for the stars.
When and where were the earliest and the most recent images photographed?
The first image in the series was taken in 2020, showing my youngest son, George, and titled Wonder Boy. The last image I took was of Layla who is a British Palestinian living in the UK.

What camera system did you use and what did you like about it?
The Leica SL2, Leica M10, Leica Q3 with Summilux-M 35 f/1.4 Asph and Summicron-M 50 f/2. These are my own Leicas. I switched to Leica many years ago. I like the simplicity of using these cameras and I love the look you get from the small compact lenses. My go to lenses are the 28mm, 35mm and 50mm. After many years of shooting, I feel like these are the holy trinity. It’s all I will ever need in life. 

What does photography mean to you in general?
Ever since I was a child growing up in the bush on a mission station in central Tanzania’s savannah, with no electricity and no running water, I was fascinated by National Geographic – the only window I had to the rest of the world. Every month it would arrive, (3 months late) and after my father had read it, I would take it and look through all the amazing photo stories for weeks. I was also obsessed with the camera advertisements and swore that, when I had money one day I would by my first camera. It was my childhood ambition to capture the world around me and tell stories. I love photography because it allows me to slow down, manage my ADHD, focus purely on what’s in front of me, forget everything else and just be in the moment, hidden behind my camera with a single purpose: to capture interesting people, places, and situations. I love how a photograph can capture the very essence and soul of a person, if you spend time with them and get to know them. I have many hobbies,  including bee-keeping, but photography is the practice that calms me down the most and inspires me.
Carla Susanne Erdmann
ALL IMAGES ON THIS PAGE: © Marksteen Adamson
EQUIPMENT: Leica SL2, Leica M10, Leica Q3,  Summilux-M 35 f/1.4 Asph, Summicron-M 50 f/2

LFI 8.2018+-

You can find his series Cheltenham Folk in LFI 8.2018. More

Marksteen Adamson+-

© Marksteen Adamson
© Marksteen Adamson

The photographer grew up on a mission station in Tanzania and has lived in many countries – Denmark, Holland, USA and Great Britain. He speaks four languages, is a keen cyclist and motorcyclist and an avid collector of many things. He also writes music and plays numerous instruments. With his agency, Asha&Co, Adamson works successfully in the advertising industry and lives in Cheltenham with his family, his four children, a Patterdale Terrier, two cats and a productive Beehive.  More


The Awakening

Marksteen Adamson