Archive for '• Philosophy':

Cavalia :: Controlling The Work You Show

My dear friend, Marc Climie, often says…

“Let your work determine your clients. Don’t let your clients determine your work.”

In order to live by that philosophy you have to be very careful what work you show to the world through your site, blog, and book.  If you don’t want to shoot family portraits, then don’t show family portraits. If you hate selective color photographs (as you should) then don’t show them.  Here is a good scenario…

You want to shoot portraits of bands and musicians for press kits and promo work. You are a struggling photographer just trying to get started and you get a call from a friend of a friend and they would love for you to shoot their family portraits. You need the work so you agree to it and, hopefully, you do a kick ass job.  You just shot the best family portraits of your life. What do you do with them?

Continue reading and seeing after the jump ::


Street Portraits :: NYC 09/2009 :: Video + Stills

I’ve been talking with some folks and the topic of street portraits came up. Some are scared to death to approach strangers on the street. I understand the feeling completely but there are times you have to get over your anxiety about talking to strangers and pursue what it is you want to do. While I was in NYC a few weeks ago I decided to practice what I preach. I gave myself the assignment of shooting 10 portraits of 10 strangers in 10 hours. I had to sandwich these in between other shoots I had on the books while I was there. I approached 15 people and 9 accepted my request.

For those of you who have expressed your concerns about approaching strangers lemme give you some advice.

1) Read David duChemin’s book Within The Frame. David talks in depth about pursuing and expressing your vision where people, places, and culture are concerned. It’s a fantastic book with lots of technical and philosophical meat to dig your teeth into.

2) Get over talking to strangers. I know your mom told you not to but seriously, it’s ok. You will be amazed at how many people open themselves up to you. It’s a great experience for them and for you.

3) Don’t try to approach people who are on their way somewhere. Find someone just hanging out. You won’t be interrupting their schedule.

4) Guys, know your limit with approaching females. Some of you are suave and can do it with style. Dorks like me look like we are just trying a bad pick-up line. Know your limit. Ladies, well, y’all have it easy. Talk to anyone you want. :)

4) As David writes in his book, be kind, smile, and extend warmth and friendship to the folks you meet.

5) Many will tell you “no”. Many will say yes. Listen to what Janet said in the video above. She had not had a portrait made of her in 35 years! She wouldn’t have one getting shipped to her if someone had not simply asked to take a portrait of her.Anyway, here are my portraits. They aren’t the most amazing portraits I’ve ever shot but I’m glad I put myself out there. I met some great people I would have otherwise never talked to.

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NYC street portrait half_spacer.jpg Cheers, Zack

Call To Action :: Who's flyin'? Who's sittin'? :: Send Me Your Links!

September 14, 2009 | • Philosophy


If you have been following the call to action posts lately, then you know this is the week to get your service projects wrapped up and delivered.  I would love to hear your stories. Email your stories and/or links about your service project to me at service @ zackarias [dot] com and I will compile them into one blog post to share with everyone else.

I know some have already shared your stories or links in the comments of other blog entries. Can you send them again to the email address above so I can sort them out quickly? Thank you!!!If you’ve been sittin’… Don’t beat yourself up. You have 365 days a year to serve. Maybe tomorrow is your day.  

Cheers, Zack 

Call To Action :: Are You Hitting The Streets?

September 8, 2009 | • Philosophy


I’m just checking in with those of you who are taking the call to action challenge.  If you are new to the blog then check out this post to figure out what I’m talking about.

This is the week to be getting a service job on the books and scheduled. By reading comments some of you have seen this through to completion by now. I know some of us are still draggin’ ass on it.  

On my front I have been working with Derrick. He’s set up with email, online banking, and he has his own PayPal account now! We are moving him toward a blog.  I have to hook up with him this week to see how the eWorld is treating him and make further steps toward the blog.  I also went to a networking event last week and connected with an organization that works with kids and mentors them from 8th grade through 12 grade. They commit five years to each child. It’s an organization that has an amazing heart and amazing statistics. I’m hoping to meet with them in the next week or two to figure out how I plug in with them. 

What’s up? How are things going? Any of you still sitting around wanting to do this but still making excuses as to why you can’t? Fess up as an anonymous commenter and let’s see if we can’t find a boot to plant up your rear!!! 😛

No seriously. This community of folks are here to help. Speak up! This project will be a good primer for many of us to get off our butts and help out in December for the Help-Portrait project.

Cheers, Zack 

Help-Portrait :: By Jeremy Cowart

August 26, 2009 | • Philosophy News

From following Jeremy Cowart’s twitter feed, I knew that this video was in the making and now it is up! Jeremy is today’s guest blogger on Scott Kelby’s site. This is a great idea. A few photographers here in Atlanta are already on the ball with getting this organized locally and our crew is ready to jump in and do whatever we need to do to help. Be thinking about it for your town as well.

More info should be up later today on the Help-Portrait site according to a statement on Kelby’s blog.

Help spread the word!

Cheers, Zack 

Call To Action :: "When I play pretend, I'm an ambitious person…"

August 24, 2009 | • Philosophy • Resources


If you are just coming to this blog post without seeing all of the blog posts that have led up to it then let me bring you up to speed.

• I made this video in February for a guest blog spot on Scott Kelby’s blog.

• A few weeks ago a dude named B. wrote to me and I answered him on this blog. That post set off quite a discussion in the comments.

• Then a door to door salesman showed up that same day. I interviewed him and made a short video. That led to more discussion. That video was viewed over 12,000 times in one week.

People wanted to buy this man’s soap so we sold virtual bottles of his soap on the blog. People were so motivated and moved by him they bought $6,000 of this virtual soap.

• I realized I need to sell soap instead of photographs. :)

• Last Monday I had a post about motivation.

That brings us to today’s blog post. First I’ll share how I’ve been motivated by all of this.

In preparing for this blog post I was searching my archives for some sort of image to open the post with. I never make a blog post without starting with an image of some sort. I twittered yesterday that I was going to make this blog post and here it is 10pm and the post still isn’t up. I wanted it up at 10am but I couldn’t find the right image. That’s my story. If it can’t be right then I won’t do it. So instead of trying to find the right image or go make a video you get helvetica in 36 points. Not having everything “just right” should not stop me from going ahead and getting something done.

Another reason this wasn’t up at 10am is because my awesome wife, Meghan, kicked me out of the bed this morning and we went to the gym. I have to lose about 40 pounds. Been talking and thinking about losing weight for a long long long time. No more thinking about it. Now I have to do it. So instead of blogging I was jogging. Or elipticallying to be more precise. For. A. Whole. Ten. Minutes. But that’s ten more minutes than I did yesterday (you see… that’s a joke because I haven’t exercised in years).

Meg has also been on me for as long as we’ve been together to write the stuff in my head down on paper or, preferably, white boards. I finally got off my rear a few weeks ago and put white boards up. Then I started writing stuff down on them. Goals. Ideas. Concepts. Things to do. Etc. It looks like this…


I wanted to chart out the process of how a client is moved through our studio. From phone call to thank you card. [confession] I never send thank you cards. [/confession]. But I want to! I really do! I just never do. Once the job is delivered I’m off to the next thing which is always two steps behind from where that next thing is supposed to be. The last six years of my career has been a constant game of catch up. Well… no more. I’m getting my $!&^ together. All of this discussion on the blog is helping motivate me. This is the first time I’m actually getting the chaos in my head organized visually in front of me. First time! Meg is one part happy that I’m finally doing it and one part pissed off because she wonders why I took so long.

Note how small the actual taking pictures part of the process is. That chart above is the big picture. Every line item is associated with another meeting and another whiteboard filled with stuff. It’s amazing how writing stuff down actually works! If only I had known of it earlier! (cue Meg’s fist slamming into my arm.)

Ok… so we are motivated. That’s all fine and dandy but motivation without action is… not good stuff. Motivation without action is… some great sports metaphor. I don’t know.

Last week I asked you to think about stuff. Some of you just went from thinking about stuff to doing stuff in about zero seconds. Well done! Some of you need a push off the dock so I’m here to say that all of your fears and anxiety are getting old and it’s time you learn to swim whether you like it or not. You might be right back on your dock in about two seconds but damn it, you are getting in the water… over your head. Drenched. Your excuses for not doing something are now void of having any real meaning.

Here is what I want us to do ::

Serve someone with our cameras.

This week you are going to think about how you can do this. You are going to find a person, a family, a ministry, an organization, a place, a shelter, a movement, a something that needs pictures. These pictures are needed for advocacy or fund raising or simply giving portraits to people who can’t afford even the cheapest of the Wal-Mart packages. Follow what Jeremy Cowart is doing with his Help-Portrait project as an idea.

You are going to do this for zero money so that pressure is off of you. Attaching dollars to photos can be stressful so just take the money part out of the picture. You are also doing this on your own time with whatever skill/talent/gear you have and you aren’t going to get all anal about how good it will be because chances are you will find some people who will love your work because if you don’t photograph for them NOBODY will. Any picture is going to be a good picture at this point.

“But I’m not good enough yet.”

The only person who cares about that statement is you so go ahead and build a bridge so you can get over it. :p

Week of August 31st – You have now identified a few families, organizations, ministries, etc that you think could use some of your picture taking skills. You start emailing, calling, knocking on doors. You have seven days to get yourself and your camera in the door and pitch your service. Not everyone will need you. Some will reject free stuff! Who cares? Move. On. Dot. Org. with it and knock on the next door.

Week of September 7th – You have this week to get your schedule figured out and get some sort of service job on the books. I don’t care if you have a day job and 14 million kids. If you are so tied up in stress and anxiety about your passion for this craft AND you aren’t doing anything about it then your job is suffering and your 14 million kids are suffering because while you may be present in person your mind is kept busy thinking about all the photo stuff you aren’t doing.

Just tell the kiddos that “Mommy/Daddy needs to follow her/his heart for at least one day before Mommy/Daddy implodes.” A happy Mommy/Daddy makes for a happy house. If your job sucks a$$ you can make it through the day knowing that you have a project that has purpose and meaning tied to it unlike the TPS reports you are filing. Your kids can say one of two things when they grow up…

“I watched my Mom/Dad be miserable.”

“I watched my Mom/Dad serve people with what they had.”

Pick one.

This isn’t just a self serving “I need to make $50, $100, $200 shooting portraits of middle class families in the park” kind of project. It is something that serves someone or a group of people in need of being served. Keep that in mind… You are going to use your camera to “serve” someone so you can stop staring into your own damn naval because at the end of the day, this project isn’t about you. I mean, it sort of is about you but it isn’t at the same time. You need to get off your butt and do something but the “you” part of this will soon fade when you see what you are doing for others.

Week of September 14th – September 30th – Get the job done, edited, and delivered. You only get a pass if the project you are now pursuing can only be best served in a timeframe that doesn’t meet this deadline. If you have someone or some group on the line for a project but it has to be shot at X date then you are doing fine. But that’s your only pass.

October 1st – I’ll blog about what I’ve been doing along this same time table. Many of you will talk about what you have been doing to serve your community with your camera. Some of you will be kicking yourself in your ass because, once again, like always, as per usual, like you do, you got motivated and said “Yes!!! I’m going to do that!!!” and you won’t. Tsk. Tsk. If that is you then you need to hear this…

I spent about four hours with Derrick on Saturday and, as Derrick does, he said all sorts of amazing things. One great thing was this…

“You have to believe that your life has meaning and purpose BEFORE you see that it does. If you believe it then you will be doing the right things, and saying the right things, and putting yourself in the right situations to see that your life has meaning and purpose but if you HAVE to believe it before you SEE it.”

That’s a paraphrase. He said it a lot better.

IF you are standing on a dock and you don’t know how to jump… Don’t quit your job or anything crazy right now. Turn off your television after work and find someone to serve with your camera. You have until October 1st to get it done. No whining or complaining. Just go effing do it. I’m going to be right there with ya doing something too.


Cheers, Zack

PS – I’ve been having some amazing email volleys with B. The post title of “When I play pretend, I’m an ambitious person…” came from one of his emails. He’s a funny dude who has more talent than he thinks he has. He’s had a back log of stuff he has promised people he would do so he can be free to work on his own projects. He’s getting that done now. You may need to do that as well. You have 72 hours to get it done. Might need to make some coffee tonight.

PPS – Derrick can’t even begin to thank everyone. More to come on that.

PPPS – Don’t come around here asking how to approach someone for this project because you aren’t going to get any help beyond this point. Many of you reading this blog want to turn this passion for photography into a career option if you haven’t already. The community at large is here to help but there are some things you just have to figure out on your own. Like identifying markets, clients, needs and then figuring out how you are going to connect with those markets, clients, and needs. You can’t have your hand held through the entire process.

Consider yourself pushed. It’s up to you for the next 30 days. Go change some lives… including your own.

Momentum :: What are you going to do with it?

August 17, 2009 | • Philosophy • Resources


It’s Monday and we are getting back into life. Last week’s series of blog posts really stirred a pot of emotions in all of us. I know that if you are like me then you get all excited and worked up and motivated about something and in a few days… all that momentum seems to fade away and you’re right back where you started. THEN you get all depressed because just a few days ago you had a spark bright enough to start a fire. Something stirred in you that was a call to action! You were ready to take that hill and now… Meh. Forget it. It was a stupid idea.

Thanks to the generosity of all of you, Derrick sold a whole lot of soap last week by taking his pitch to the Internet. Many of you acted on a feeling and did something about it. Donations from $1 to $50 and more came in. It’s going to make his day when I hook up with him later this week! The beauty of it all is it wasn’t an act of a charity but an act of gratitude because Derrick went all Tony Robbins on us and he helped spark something.

But what is that something? What is that spark? And more importantly… What are you going to do with it?

I tell folks at my OneLight workshop to not sit on this information for six months or it will be gone. When you get motivated you need to act. You need to move. You need to get that spark on to something flammable so you can start a fire.

We are going to make this some sort of series on the blog so we can hold ourselves accountable to this process. I’m going to be emailing B. on a regular basis to make sure he gets his a$$ up and makes pictures. My team of people around me are keeping me accountable because I want to do something with this as well.

Don’t answer this now but… If last week’s series of blog posts sparked something inside of you then what are you going to do about it? If you felt a call to action then how are you going to answer that call? How are you going to get off your arse and move in a direction that you want to go in? Don’t put this back on your back burner. Keep it right in front of you and ask yourself for the next few days…

“What am I going to do about this?”

Write down every idea you have.

Cheers, Zack

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