Inspiration & Personal Projects with Zack Arias

Inspiration & Personal Projects with Zack Arias

If you’re not already familiar with renowned photographer Zack Arias, here’s a quick crash course:

  • Zack is an editorial and commercial photographer based in Atlanta, GA.
  • Before he got into the editorial/commercial world, he worked in the music industry for 7 years.
  • Clients include TIME, USA Today, Sony Music, and Spin.
  • His workshop turned DVD OneLight won a Telly Award and has been shipped to over 120 countries.
  • He’s holding a workshop at Luminance 2012 on inspiration and personal projects.

Zack is also known for his sometimes fiery rants about the industry – in one blog post against the notion of a “top 10 list” for starting a photography business, he says:

“Hard work. Dedication. Time. Patience. Some good luck here and there. (Luck favors the prepared.) Tenacity. A deep and abiding respect for the craft and the industry and your peers both young and old. That wins the race. No 10 step system. No fast track. No specific camera body or lens. No $16,000 spent to ride the rainbow for a day. 30 days to a better career? How about 30 years to a better career?”

He’s also an advocate for all photographic specialties – from street to wedding photography (“Wedding photography is one of the hardest damn jobs in photography. Period. End of story.”). With a clear dedication to the craft of photography, it was a no-brainer to ask Zack to host one of the Luminance workshops. And in the spirit of his workshop theme on “Inspiration & Personal Projects,” we saw that Zack recently answered a question on his Tumblr blog, Ask Me Anything About Photography:

The answer?

“There’s a few ways of looking at this…

You’re trying to build a personal project and/or new portfolio and you are hoping that a company or organization will give you access to do such a thing. I tend to gravitate toward offering my photography for free in exchange for the access that they will grant me. Sometimes I just offer free usage for X period of time. If after that time they love the work and want to continue using it then they can pay for it. Access is often currency you will work with when doing personal projects.

Other times it may be something you want to do for a for profit company. You can approach them. Pitch your idea. And put a price tag on it. If it’s a brilliant idea they may just go for it. Maybe there’s some negotiation. Maybe you do the first one for expenses only. If you are seeking some sort of monetary payment then you have to be open with that at the very beginning so expectations are managed straight away.

Think about how you would want a complete stranger to approach you with something like this. How would you want them to communicate with you? How much information would you want to have about the entire process before you even started? What’s in it for you if you give this stranger the access to what they are requesting? Is what they are wanting to do even valuable to you? Would it be beneficial to you at all or would you simply be being nice to this person to give them access and then you’d never even use what they create? Also, could you trust this person? What have they done in the past for other people? Have you proven yourself to someone else so that they can go out on a limb and trust you?

Work backwards through those kind of questions so you can offer the information before they even ask or even know to ask.

Zack ”

Personally, we can’t wait to get more insights from Zack – live! – at Luminance. Joining Zack at the one-day workshop event will be Joe McNally and Robert Seale. Seats are limited, so be sure to get yours! Check out more information at

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There are 2 comments for this article
  1. Michael McKenzie at 9:31 pm

    Big fan of Zack Arias and especially his advice and his genuine passion and priority for serving people not making a name for himself.

  2. Pingback: Things You’ll Find Interesting August 1, 2012 | Chuq Von Rospach, Photographer and Author

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