Through the Lens is our new interview series highlighting the photographers from around the globe who are creating art that inspires us to see running differently.
This week's edition of Through the Lens is with Aisha McAdams and Katie Burgess, the creative duo and forces behind Rhoam Creative Studio.
Names: Aisha McAdams & Katie Burgess
What is Rhoam Creative Studio?
Rhoam is a niche creative design and production studio for sports and lifestyle brands large and small who crave unique storytelling and art direction. As a women run team we prioritize intentional creative practices that showcase the run industry in its entirety.
About Aisha & Katie:
(AM) I’m a native Rhode Islander but Boston has been home for the past 5 years. I’ve always been a curious soul and I find being behind a camera to be deeply nourishing.
Running has been an integral part of my life since I was seven years old. My older sister would trick me into running laps around the playground while she played on the swing-set, trying to get me to beat my time. I eventually became a scholarship collegiate athlete and as I’ve ventured into the sports photography world, my relationship with running continues to evolve.
My photography has led me to working with some of the world’s top athletes and brands. However, it’s the close personal relationships I’ve formed that have allowed me to grow as a storyteller. At every level, this sport can be euphoric or heartbreaking. On a good day it can put you on top of the world, while on a bad day it can leave you in the gutter, downcast and broken. As a photographer, it’s my job to expose the human experiences that accompany both victory and defeat but also everything in between.
Before we are runners, we are individuals and I try to show that through my work.
(KB) I grew up in southwest Pennsylvania in a small coaltown, and currently live in Pittsburgh, PA. I first started creating graphic design work 6 years ago, and in recent years merged my love for running with my career. Prior to that I was working at big agencies in my city, mostly in the tech and innovation industry.
My notable parts of my career so far has been getting to create illustration, branding, web design, animation, and more for my favorite brands and companies in the sport. I’ve been working with both Brooks and Hoka a lot in the past year on various design projects, worked with Biathlon Canada’s national team during the past Winter Olympics, created the rebranding and website design for Rabbitwolf Creative’s team, and of course making the branding and site for Rhoam as well.
I’ve been running since I was 12, and am training for my first marathon next fall (still need to pick one to sign up for).
When I was a kid I actually wanted to be an editorial magazine designer, simply because I saw it in the movies a lot and it spoke to me. A bit of a weird coincidence in the timeline of the media I had growing up though. Because around that era it seemed like every romcom movie from the early 2000s had a female main role working a “fun” creative job like being a reporter, journalist, editor, fashion magazine designer, etc. Because the movie industry realized that it was looking sexist to keep making the female lead roles things like secretaries, but they were not progressive enough to think that the female leads could be anything like a doctor or scientist, those were just for the male roles. But as a kid from a small town with no other insight into the creative world, I clung to the sexist shortcomings of the movie industry regardless because I wanted to be a graphic designer too. But do it my way, and now that Aisha and I have Rhoam I’m excited to collaborate with more like minded and diverse creatives to make sure that there’s more voices and stories behind the creative being produced.
A fun fact about myself is that I hoard every scrap of paper that I come across for the past 15 years or so. But now that I’m more into design, being able to pull from these sources for inspiration has been a big help, and I have a wall in my art studio dedicated to being able to pin up new items, as well as other sources, that inspire me for each big project.
- (AM) Favorite camera: My Fujifilm ga645zi… gahhhh
- (KB) Favorite design tool: Sketchbook and marker
- (AM) Film or digital: While the majority of my work started out as digital, the last few years I’ve shifted more towards film. It slows the process down and allows me to be connected with my work on an entirely different level. I’ve become my biggest critic with my work and I’ve found film still gets me giddy more often than not.
- (KB) Analog or digital: Analog, I love to work with my hands whenever I can, then bring that into the computer
- (AM) Favorite photographer of all-time: That’s a tough one - I would say Diane Arbus and Vivian Maier but it’s hard to put one over the other. They’re both iconic and pioneers women’s documentary photography. Currently I’ve loved following Sophie Ebrard’s work.
- (KB) Favorite designer of all-time: Susan Kare. She was a designer and digital pioneer in the 80s, and we all still use some of her original pixel icons to this day. Digital was all new, no trail has been blazed yet, and designers were trying to figure out how to visually communicate in a digital format. And Kare stepped up, I find it amazing that she pulled her inspiration from things like needlepoint, which was historically created by women in the past and sexistly not considered high art because of that, when trying to figure out how to design legible and quickly identifiable icons.
- (AM) Best photography advice: Explore the subjects that ignite your curiosity. It’s those projects that will lead you to the “right” places.
- (KB) Best design advice: Be obsessive. No one is good at the start, but success favors the obsessive over time
- (AM) Describe your photos in three words: intimate, authentic, compelling
- (KB) Describe your design in three words: Listens, reacts, reaches
Five favorites images:
This photo has been living rent free in both of our heads. When discussing the vision about our identity design, we both realized that we wanted the tall, skinny art deco inspired letters, and we found this lovely typeface that had the chunkiest and roundest O’s that you could hope for.
This photo is added purely because of the amount of serotonin we have gotten every time this photo popped up while building our website, instagram, pitch decks, etc. He’s everywhere. He is what the sport is: a vehicle that brings together people from all walks of life. The best part of the running industry for us is the friendly and amazing people we get to connect with, even if just for a moment.
This is the wall in our studio space where we can pin up items that inspire us for projects. At the moment we have several iterations of hand drawn renderings from creating the Rhoam logo to remind us of the first steps of starting our agency.
This is from a section of our website. We love it because it was one of our first times seeing some of both of our best works interacting and next to each other on our site. It made us super excited for the potential of what we’re going to do in the future if this is the baseline of how we’re performing at the launch.
Katherine speaking here: This is one of my favorite photos that Aisha has taken. She capture’s motherhood in such a beautiful and powerful way that’s true to each mom and is never staged. Aisha has such a close friendship with Elle and they both uniquely started their pro careers around the same time. It’s fascinating admiring from afar how Aisha has gone from capturing Elle from when they were young roommates living in New England, trying to both make names for themselves. To now, with Elle being an Olympian and mother and Aisha being the co-founder of her own studio.