Meet Zak, a children and family photographer located in southern California. Zak uses both eyes to shoot and had this to say about his choice of equipment brand – “Canon is sexy. Love the beautiful color straight from my 5D, and the 70-200 is like hot cocoa on a cold day…it’s just good.”
Describe the moment you decided it was time to pursue this as a career?
The funny thing is that I never thought in my wildest dreams that I could pursue photography as a career, that is until I attended a workshop by Carey Schumacher. My goal for that workshop was to just take better photographs of my kids. After the workshop I offered to take some family photographs for a neighbor and the rest they say is history. So to answer the question, the moment I decided was when I got back from that first session. I thought to myself “wow that was fun! And I can pay my bills with a camera instead of my back. Where do I sign up!”
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What is one thing you’ve learned so far that has proven most valuable?
It’s okay to make a mistake. In the beginning I was very hung up on perfection…now don’t get me wrong I still am a perfectionist, but I know that if I make a mistake it’s not the end of the world. If I go out to a session and enjoy myself and my clients everything falls into place.
What makes you different from everyone else?
Me! There is only one me. I think that photographers are similar in many ways. We all have a camera and we all take photographs, so how can I be different? I honestly just try to be me. From my blog to my website I want people to get a feel about the kind of person I am, and from that hopefully they choose me to document their life.
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Who is your one favorite up-and-coming photographer?
Wow…let’s see there are a lot of really good up and comers…is that a word? Off the top of my head Smitten.
One item you can’t live without?
This hunk of metal I’m typing on right now! Seriously love my MacBook Pro!
Your best bokeh image and why?
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I seriously love the colors in this one. The green in the background to the teal in her shirt. I just love this image. I can still hear her laughing.
An Hour to Live, An Hour to Love By Richard and Kristine Carlson Amazing book! Every time things get out of balance for me I’ll pick it up and read it. It’s a must have in my opinion.
Comedy: Clerks Western: Young Guns…I think I can recite every line…cool I know! Drama: The Shawshank Redemption
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Where do you find inspiration?
Pretty much anywhere. Blogs, forums, magazines, television, long walks, music. You name it…inspiration is everywhere.
What do you think is the most valuable aspect of your business?
I really think my laid back style is key. Often times clients are expecting a very stiff painful experience, so if I can get them to relax and enjoy their time together, their portraits are going to be that much better. I have found that parents…well okay mothers want everything to be perfect. They want little Johnny on his best behavior, and well sometimes that doesn’t happen, but if I can reassure the parents that everything is going to be okay even if Johnny throws sand at me, then we all win.
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If you could second shoot with anyone, who would it be?
What did you have to do to actually take the leap? Did you have any hoops to jump through?
Well let’s see I had a seriously old camera, so for me I picked up a 5D and a couple nice lenses for starters. As for hoops I am jumping through hoops daily. Constantly trying to make my business successful and flourish. So I say bring on the hoops!
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Do you have suggestions for others trying to make the transition?
Just believe in yourself. I tell my kids daily that you can do anything you put your mind to, so why not apply that same philosophy to your business, I do!
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What is the biggest or most creative thing you do/have done to draw new clients?
I’m not sure how creative this is, but I got involved with a mom’s meet up group in the beginning. That really helped out my bookings.
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Anything else you would like to share?
Well let’s see I love playing soccer…oh you mean about photography. Okay! Dream big and follow your dreams. I know that is totally cliche, but in reality it’s the truth. There is absolutely nothing that you can’t achieve in life. If you want to be a photographer just put yourself out there and get after it. And I’ll end with a line from one of my favorite songs “While I Still Got the Time” by Darius Rucker: “I’m gonna work like I don’t need the money.” Now get out there and shoot something!
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