Local photographer overcomes adversity to pursue passion

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT)-- Faces in the crowd, invisible to some, but not to professional photographer Wade Payne, whose keen eye for the captivating-sparked a desire in him to digitally capture what is the demonstrative human face. I asked Wade what he's learned after embarking on this jouney and he said, ”Just how much in common we have. We look at third world countries, or even Native Americans. I had an opportunity to photograph a pow wow, and Arvel Bird who's a musician, a Native American from Arizona, Just being around them; speaking, learning of what their culture is about has just really meant a lot. They've loved them. Just fabulous people.”

The Faces project is just part of Payne’s passion for photography. Another is documenting the spectacle that is the Kentucky Derby, something he says never gets old, ”It never does. I love horses, but being that close to those beautiful animals, and when they run past you with their hooves...it sounds so cliche, but it's amazing."

At Wade’s first Derby in 2015, he documented the first leg of eventual triple crown winner American Pharaoh. He’s now had two in four years after being track side for Justify’s majestic run last May. Is it luck? Payne would prefer to see himself as being blessed, as he was in Nashville recently when he suffered another life changing moment. A second heart attack, while doing what loves, "I was photographing the Christmas parade and was...briskly...walking up Broadway. And went to get in position to shoot...got lightheaded...went down to a knee, started to feel like I needed to sit down and I heard a lady say, do you need any help? I remember saying no and waking up in the back of an ambulance. I had a heart attack. It was the perfect storm again. I have said many times, that if I die, I hope I have a camera in my hand. I am blessed to do what I do, I am thankful for what I get to do, and if I ever go out, that's what I want to do."

By the way, if you have any suggestions for Wade for his Faces project please reach him at: www.wadepaynephoto.com or on Instagram at wadepayne1