Zak Shelhamer is a photographer and a freelance filmmaker from the United States. I hope you’ll enjoy the interview;
How did you fall in love with photography?
My father was an avid photographer and I grew up developing film in my basement which led to a passion for the art and process of photography.
How important is having a unique style as a photographer? How would you describe your style?
It took me a super long time to find my style, when I started out I was doing everything by the books; trying to perfect my lighting ratios, composition, aperture settings… But then I realized that even a technically ‘perfect’ image could end up being a bad photo. A lot of my photos that got published early on were ones that I just snapped along the way, from shoot to shoot, people can feel something different when you’re authentic to your style and that will evoke an emotion. And emotion, is what makes a good photograph.
Where did you grow up? How have your roots influenced your sense of style?
I grew up in the mountains, climbing, mountaineering, snowboarding. This all influenced my sense of style. It made me want to take photos that only someone that was able to do these activities could take. I wanted to climb the mountain and take a photo of my friends from the top looking down, I wanted to take a photo mid air on a 80 foot jump while 3 feet away from my friend. These were things that I felt set me apart and also enabled me to do the things that I love.
What advice would you give to aspiring photographers out there?
I don’t want to sound cheesy but, spend time shooting the things that you’re passionate about and love. People can tell that you’re heart is in it and that’s special. Help others along the way. Learn from those you look up to.
Have you ever run out of ideas?
Sure, we’ve all had seasons of doubt, uncertainty, but from my experience those are the moments that we grow the most and learn who we really are and what we really love to shoot.
How do you find places and models for your shootings?
Talking with locals or just getting out and exploring is my favorite way to find new locations for shooting.
What’s the one piece of photo gear you couldn’t live without?
I’m a minimalist so there isn’t anything too specific other than my memory card 🙂
Do you edit your photos? If yes, which programs do you use?
I pretty much do everything in Lightroom now, it’s so flexible and it offers many good options.
We would like to express our gratitude to Zak Shelhamer for this great interview.
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