Sings In The Timber – Native American Documentary Photographer

Based in Missoula, MT, I'm a documentary photographer and filmmaker working in Indian Country. I document modern Native American life.

Adam Sings In The Timber, Crow, graduated from the University of Montana in Missoula with a degree in Journalism with a Photo option. A graduate of the Freedom Forum's American Indian Journalism Institute, Sings In The Timber has had photo internships at The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Va., and the Billings Gazette and Great Falls Tribune in Montana. In October 2007, he attended the Eddie Adams Workshop, an intense four-day gathering of top photojournalism professionals in New York City and won a scholarship as the top student.

Sings In The Timber is also a photographer for Reznet news, producing audio slideshows & videos. He is also a founding member and photo editor for Crow News, a community journalism website that serves Crow Agency, Mont. on the Crow Reservation.

Related Info – Interview with Adam Sings In The Timber

In addition to freelance and commercial photography, Sings In The Timber is currently working on a photo book documenting the Crow tribe of Montana titled “Apsaalooke Nation – Living in Two Worlds”

“I've been all over the United States photographing different people and cultures but my true passion is photographing Native America in all it's beauty and diversity. My ongoing goal is to present Native Americans truthfully and free of stereotypes.”

He is based in Missoula, Mont. In addition to his documentary photographer, Adam also provides his services for senior photos, family portraits and weddings. asked Adam about his background and photography.

Tell us about yourself and background.

I'm primarily a documentary photographer but I dabble in film-making. I studied photojournalism at the University of Montana. I grew up in both Montana and Wisconsin, I currently live in Missoula, Mont. I'm a member of the Crow tribe.

I became interested in photography about 10 years ago, mostly as a hobby and using a 35mm film camera. But it was about 7 years ago I received a Canon Rebel DSLR as a gift that I really started my photography journey. A few people in the Native journalism community noticed me and helped me get on path to becoming a journalist. I attended the American Indian Journalism Institute for an intensive three-week journalism workshop where I first learned about photojournalism. Then started studying journalism at the University of Montana. I've had photo internships at 3 daily newspapers; The Billings Gazette in Billings, Mont, The Great Falls Tribune in Great Falls, Mont., and the Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Va. In addition to AIJI, I've also been apart of the Chips Quinn Scholars program, the Native American Journalists Association Student Projects, and the Eddie Adams Workshop.

While I've been trained as an everyday photojournalist who can cover news and sports assignments, my real passion is photographing the everyday life of Native Americans.

Currently I'm a part time photographer and a full-time stay-at-home father. When I'm not with my three-year-old son and wife I try to get out a photograph as much as I can.

What camera gear do you use?

Canon 5D Mark II
Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8 lens (I use this lens almost exclusively. And almost always wide at 24mm.)
Canon EF 70-200 f/2.8 lens (I rarely use this lens, even when shooting powwows. I prefer wide and up close so that my images have layers)
A pair of Canon Speedlite 430 EX's
For remotes I use inexpensive Cactus V5s.
A Paul C. Buff Einstein 640 and various light modifiers.
A Vagabond Mini to power the Einstein when on location.
And I use Adobe Lightroom to edit my photos.
I shoot everything in RAW

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Tell us about your documentary project.

My ongoing documentary project is titled Apsáalooke Nation: Living in Two Worlds. It's basically a photographic essay documenting Apsáalooke or Crow life. I hope that someday it will become a book. My goal is to preserve our culture through photography and films while at the same time educating non-Crows about our culture and way of life.

Do you have any tips for great Pow Wow photos?

I don't know if I can offer tips for photographing powwows but I can tell you what I do when at powwows. I almost always shoot wide, at 24mm on a full frame, and use my feet as a zoom. I shoot manual and set if before things start so I don't have to worry about it when working. I also try hard not to chimp the camera, so I don't miss any opportunities. I like to shoot behind the scenes stuff of dancers getting ready or interacting with each other. I like to approach it as a story if I have time, with a beginning, middle and an ending. I shoot low so that the sky or ceiling is the background and not other dancers or the crowd. I try to pay attention to what other photographers are doing. For a few reasons, so I don't shoot too much like them and my photos stand out. Or to expand on how they're shooting so my photos stand out. Or maybe they're seeing something interesting I might have missed. I also keep both eyes open so that maybe my peripheral vision will catch something I might have missed. I also like to use a flash off-camera, especially if the available light isn't that great. Plus, using artificial light helps photos stand out from the pack. And to reiterate, I shoot wide open and get as close to the action as possible.

Visit Adam Sings In The Timber's website.

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Last Updated on July 1, 2019 by Paul G

6 Comments on “Sings In The Timber – Native American Documentary Photographer”

  • Amigo Kandu


    Thank you Adam for this article with your photography insights and technical tips. Someday I hope to reach your level of expertise, and begin my own travels as a photo intern. Each powwow, luau, or event I attend teaches me more about use of lighting and framing my subjects for each photo. Will visit your website to learn more, thanks! AmigoNonProfitFilms

  • Arnaldo Rodriguez


    Please, promote the deeds of those that have passed and those that are still among us! Let the world know that this world was native first. Don’t let them forget that the Native world is still around. Brown Wolf

  • terrissa currier


    I loved your detail sharing your thought process and work you do behind the scenes and before shooting.
    And, what a great idea focussing on the Native perspective in “two worlds”…we have seen a lot of stories about pre-colonization lifestyle, but little of real-life scenarios involving current, day-to-day populations. How wonderful if you could do a series ofv these, various tribes, over time. Great ideas, work…beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

  • Pam Murphy


    Your work is so beautiful.I would Love to be that good some day I enjoy going to our local Pow-Wows to photograph the dancers and I feel so at home there and its like a family reunion.Its great Iam not native but I was told by my father that my great grandma was and no other info was given. Your colors are so sharp .Keep up the good work.

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