Captured by WhoVillains

Written by: 
Brittanie Vorwaller

Adam Ah Mu, a junior majoring in information technology, takes risks and braves heights to get the perfect photo. The city lights have always fascinated him, he said, which has inspired a lot of his photography. “I’ve always messed around photography and video making, but last year I started seriously getting into it.”

Ah Mu was born in Auckland, New Zealand, lived there until he was 8 years old and then moved to Chicago to experience the city. Last December, Adam and his brother, Aaron, collaborated with their two best friends Jake Johnson and Mike Kim to create their own company called WhoVillains. According to Ah Mu, WhoVillains is a photo/video/graphic arts team. Adam and Aaron, who live in Chicago, are the main photographers. Kim is a graphic designer who lives in New York, and Johnson lives in Chicago as a sound engineer and video editor.

The four friends decided to make a company as they were exploring Chicago at night, shooting pictures from the top of buildings. When they were looking at the photos, they thought it would be fun to have a company that can, according to Ah Mu, “facilitate people’s need for photography, video, graphic design and create a street brand.” Although Ah Mu loves to photograph the city lights and amazing views in Hawaii, he said his favorite things to photograph are people.

Ah Mu said, “If I could give a tip to anyone, I would tell them to just go out and have fun. Shoot from a lot of different angles and practice makes you better. I don’t like posed pictures but to get the raw emotion of someone in their element. When people look at my pictures, I want them to feel what I saw when I was taking that picture.” When he takes pictures of events, he said he tries to focus on what the people are looking at specifically in order to fully encompass the mood.

One memorable shot for Ah Mu happened while he was walking underneath a bridge, photographing a group of homeless people. “Walking down, I stopped and saw this lady just laying on the sidewalk. She had absolutely nothing and was just asleep underneath this insanely busy interstate.”

The bridge was packed with a bunch of homeless people who had nothing but one guy in particular caught Ah Mu’s eye. He was lying in the corner asleep on some old cardboard with barely anything and a Bible sitting next to him. “This image really caught my eye because the setting seemed so desperate and sad and then there was this Bible that acted as a little sliver of hope. I think that it’s really powerful that there was so much darkness and then there’s a sliver of hope.”

Of all the wild stories he has of trying to capture the perfect picture, Ah Mu said his favorite place he ever photographed was on top of a building in Chicago. “We found this building that was under construction, which was really tall, and decided to climb it late at night. As you’re going up each story, the building becomes less and less finished.” The weather in Chicago during the wintertime is very cold and Ah Mu said, “We were freezing cold, the wind was blowing and the building would start to shake. It was super sketchy, but once we got to the top, the view was absolutely unbelievable.”

Ah Mu said he and his brother were close while growing up and being on top of the building made them feel as though they were little kids again. “When we were little, we were always going out and trying new things and getting into mischief, and now we’re doing the same stuff but we’re just older. When I’m out shooting, I feel alive. You disappear.”

Uploaded Oct. 16, 2015