By David Terra
Over the past twenty years, Robert Adam Mayer has established himself as one of the most creative and versatile photographers in New York City’s artistic community. Mayer has dedicated his life to documenting New York’s vibrant hip-hop scene, street images from around the World, and portraiture photography. A native of the tri-state area, Mayer currently resides in Manhattan with his Brooklyn studio as his home away from home—a place where his visionary ideas are executed, and magazine features and cover shoots come to life.
Mayer, affectionately known as “Photo Rob” throughout the hip-hop community, is a lifelong hip-hop enthusiast who continues to make significant contributions to the culture’s old school, true school and up and coming artists. Mayer’s hip-hop legacy has been cemented through a handful of iconic album covers he’s photographed (9th Wonder & Buckshot’s The Formula, Marco Polo & Torae’s Double Barrel, Tanya Morgan’s, Brooklynati) as well as his magazine cover accolades, which include Q-Tip and Kool Herc for Wax Poetics, J. Cole for Beyond Race and Bill Hader for The Village Voice. Mayer’s images have also appeared in Rolling Stone, XXL, Entertainment Weekly, People, VIBE, Billboard, and RESPECT.
In early 2011, “Don’t Get Too Close Because You Might Get Shot!”—a short film by Mike Quigley spotlighting Mayer’s role and influence in New York hip-hop—was released featuring exclusive interviews with prominent artists like Buckshot who praises Mayer by offering, “When it comes to Photo Rob, he’s more mental than physical. When he gets behind the camera, what you see is his mind illustrated. We love that. We respect that.”
Mayer is an accomplished street photographer and has a catalog of breathtaking images from Africa, Europe, Japan, and of course, New York City. Mayer has been featured in the prestigious Art Frankfurt exhibition, The New York Photo Festival, and he donated his World Trade Center images from September 11, 2001 to “Here is New York,” which traveled internationally and eventually became part of the New York Historical Society archive. Mayer’s “One Tower Standing” image from that day is currently a floor to ceiling mural in National September 11 Museum
As an established portrait photographer, Mayer has created innovative photo shoots with a number of celebrities and entertainers, most notably Tom Wolfe and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. Mayer was awarded the Smith-Weld Prize for Photography for his Harvard Magazine cover story on Frank Rich and his work has been published in The New York Times, The LA Times, Popular Science, Allure and Worth Magazine. Additionally, Mayer’s credits extend to commercial work as his photographs have been used in successful campaigns for mainstream brands like Maker’s Mark, Keds, Bank of America and The Guggenheim Museum. According to Mayer, “Doing what I do is truly a privilege. Life is a gift and so is this job.”