Sunday, November 8, 2009

Seeing the Light with Zack Arias

Somewhere between ZZ Top and a big teddy bear stood our muse for the weekend in NYC, the talented Zack Arias. Zack is well known for his music photography and now, with his national sold-out OneLight workshop tour, he’s mastering a new title by guiding others to see and to make the light.

On the first day of the workshop, which was hosted in the super cavernously-cool Bond Street Studio in Brooklyn, twelve curious and/or confused light-minded subjects, including my co-goer photographer-friend, Carolyn Aeschilman, met Zack and his team in the morning for bagels and coffee (from Starbucks by request – thank you Zack). If you’ve seen the OneLight trailer, you know that Zack will go for as long as it takes to answer everyone’s questions even if it’s until 2am, but because we were limited to cutting the lights at midnight, he wasted no time launching into the fundamentals so that we could get our cameras out and begin shooting. And sprinkled in between strobes, umbrellas, soft boxes, grid spots, radio triggers, exposure, inverse square laws and light fall off were some equally, if not more important, messages. One that stopped me in my tracks was that “many people will choose photography, but not everyone will be chosen by photography.”

Damn it Zack, couldn’t you have just let me bask in my euphoria with a long wish list of the hottest new gear that would change my life? I chose photography because I love it and feel that I might perish without it, but would I be chosen? It made too much sense. Who wouldn’t like to become a photographer? Who wouldn’t want to gear up, explore and capture the beautiful world around them? Creativity is limitless, learning is endless, camaraderie among photographers is magical and getting that perfectly-lit, composed shot can be as exhilarating as the first time you shimmied up to the top of the tire swing with your parents clapping down below. Ecstasy and magic aside, he’s right; to take photography beyond the hobby, you have to embrace and master many things: technology, patience, people of all kinds, faith (in yourself and beyond), knowledge of what truly moves you, discipline, resistance to buy too many $2k lenses (or to be your own accountant) and the list goes on. I have great admiration for my fellow photographers because I now know what goes on behind the picture. At one point, I might have believed that it just took passion, creativity and a pile of gear to choose photography as a career. But, I now know that it’s so much more than seeing and making the light in your pictures. Let’s just call it seeing the light beyond them. So along with a number of stars aligning, I’m out for now to work on making that happen.

Thank you to Zack for revealing more than just strobe light and peace to all of you photographers who give and share so generously to help others find their way.

{To see more of Zack’s work or attend/purchase the OneLight DVD: or read his blog}