SO YOU WANT TO BE A PHOTOGRAPHER

You always hear kids say “Dad, I want to be like you when I grow up” and you never think twice about it. Well, that’s just what my son Zach Anderson has done. From the early age of 14, when he lied about his age to work in a movie theater in our small town, to summer film schools and than being accepted in to the prestigious film school at the Santa Fe University of Art and Design, he has always had a passion for film and photography.

In those early years, Zach always traveled with me in the summer to locations throughout the world and that’s where his passion began. Our house always encouraged our children’s interest, and I guess on him, maybe it all worked.

His work is very different from mine, which I guess I love the most. His images show sensitivity to his subject and his early influences. Well here, see for yourself.

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So why do you want to be a photographer?

I grew up around it my entire life and I’m absolutely obsessed with it.  It’s in my blood and I honestly can’t see myself doing anything else AT ALL.  All I want to do is create, succeed and leave my footprint in the field.  Like I said, there isn’t anything remotely conceivable I could see myself doing other than photography.  Nothing makes me happier than being on the road and shooting, absolutely nothing.  I’m 24 years old and it’s all in or nothing and that’s just how it is, there is no other option in my head other than being a photographer.  Having assisted many great photographers and traveling along side them as their 1st assistant reinforces the drive I have to live my dream as a photographer.

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What are your influences?

My influences stem from a lot of places.  From films to music to the people I chose to surround myself with and share my life experience.  I have been going to shows and festivals religiously since I was 16 and I have always gravitated to the weird and misfit characters those environments attract, because I too am one of those people, a misfit.  I think you have to be a student of the world and always be eager to learn.  Cinematographers and photographers influence me.  Emanuel Lubezki I think is a genius, his cinematography is profoundly beautiful and groundbreaking.  I am really inspired by Annie Leibovitz, her range of style is really breathtaking.  She definitely has had an influence.  Also I am truly in love with Ryan McGinley’s work, he is a hero of mine. We as image-makers are only as good as your last shoot or photograph.

You have to always be moving the ball forward, never be stagnant or just start phoning it in, because you’ve found something that works and is getting you assignments.  To me that just sounds creatively boring and depressing and I think it’s easy to fall into, so I am always very mindful of that.  I mean photography and creating are my drugs.  There is nothing more invigorating than pushing the envelope with a shoot or a test, seeing your results and being blown away.  You have to always be inspired. Inspiration is everywhere the eye can see.

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You started your studies in Film but why the change in direction creatively?

Yeah, I started my freshman year of college as a Filmmaking or MOV Major (Moving Image Arts) and a Photography Minor at the Santa Fe University of Art and Design, formally known as the College of Santa Fe.  Pretty quickly in the first semester I decided that this was not where I wanted to focus all of my energy and rather just focus on photography, because I had more or less the creative control of articulating my vision, whereas in film it seemed to me that wasn’t the case.  Photography allowed me to create the beautiful images that I had in my head on my own terms.  And I figured I could move up the ladder creatively much quicker than I could in film.  And there is something more Zen about photography than film.

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You have interned at Outside, Men’s Journal and Rolling Stone. Tell me what your experience was and how it has influenced your work?

Well, I think the most obvious benefit of interning at a magazine is seeing how everything operates.  From portfolios being sent in, assignments being given/delivered and all the way to running final designs down for publication.  It’s a whirlwind crash course that cannot be given in college; you have to be there in the thick of it.  The most intense was Rolling Stone, because the magazine has an issue hitting the stand every other week, so it’s a lot of work and there are a lot of images/stories being worked on; but it was one of the best and most rewarding experiences I’ve had as an intern.  Deborah Dragon is a force of nature in the magazine world and an amazing woman/mentor to me.  I owe a lot of what I know about the magazine/editorial world to her.  Interning at magazines influenced my work in the sense of presentation and design.  Photo editors and designers want to see your portfolio presented in a thoughtful way.  So the image(s) you are sending need to not only be striking, but the presentation and design of your mailer/logo needs to be killer too. They get countless mailers everyday (I know, I had to sort them out) and you want yours to be one they keep at their desk or hang on their wall. That is done by not only the beautiful image but also your logo design and presentation.  I mean they work insane hours to bring us tangible, beautiful stories and images to enjoy, so it’s a kind gesture when your mailers are sent to them in a personal and beautiful way and it also acknowledges that you appreciate their work and hinting that you would be a good collaborator to their creative process. It definitely influenced my creative and professional etiquette.

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Where do you see yourself in 5, 10, 20 years?

Well I gotta get to the 5 year mark first haha.  Like I said before, I am 24 years  old and just trying to get my name and footing out in the field.   I can’t wait to  work with other creatives and make absolutely great campaigns and wonderful  editorial pieces.  By the end of this year I hope to be done with assisting.  I feel as if I am ready to make the jump, and I couldn’t be anymore excited for the road ahead.

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Who or what is the dream subject you want to shoot?

Photography and Music go hand in hand for me.  I am completely and utterly obsessed with them.  To the point I’m sure I drive people crazy at times.  There are many musicians that I would absolutely do anything for an opportunity to work with and take their portrait.  A current dream subject I would love to photograph is Lana Del Rey.  I love how enigmatic and detached her persona is.  Here music is beautifully haunting and that emulates from her look and style.  I think I would have an absolute hey day working with her on an album promo or an editorial assignment.  My mind runs a million miles a minute but in an intensely focused way.  So many ideas and dream subjects come up and I do plan an fulfilling as much of them as I can and hopefully wonderful creatives will give me the opportunity to do so.

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To see more of Zach’s work visit www.zachandersonphoto.com.

RESEARCH THIS

As anyone knows, the success to any project is doing your research. Bad info, or no info at all, is a bad deal. For years I spent endless hours researching locations, people, and countries to find out the info I needed to proceed with a shoot. Frankly, it’s a very tiresome job and I hated it…it was just not something I relished.

Not long ago I started handing this task over to a producer/researcher to do the legwork for me. This person must be well connected, organized, understand OUR culture of photography and LOVE photography to be good.

I think this is something more photographers should start incorporating into their quill to be more successful. It frees you up, while at the same time finding places and things to keep you curious. It’s not a glamorous job, but one that is extremely helpful in YOUR photo success. So think of that someone who can find things…a.k.a. a “PHOTO RESEARCHER”…someone who has connections and a love for the craft.

Well, I found my secret weapon…Ms. Cindy Hicks…I call her Ms. Cindy. Cindy has the needed pedigree to be all of the above and more. She worked as Head Art Buyer at THE MARTIN AGENCY for many years. First of all she LOVES photography, knows how to produce things and more important, FIND things.

Recently/currently we have been working on a few personal projects that I have wanted to shoot. With her background as an Art Buyer/Producer she has been able to find people and places I never thought possible which has proven her invaluable to me. Cindy FINDS things!

Just a little tech tip to let you all know what has worked for me…

http://cindyhicksphotography.tumblr.com/