Albert Watson - Neiman Marcus Fall 2010 'Art of Fashion' campaign.

Albert Watson engages in an interview when shooting the famous Neiman Marcus Fall 2010 'Art of Fashion' Campaign. The 15 minute in depth documentary was the first ever on set presentation of Albert's work, and gives a taste of the insight and thought behind creating his legendary campaigns. To take Albert's master class and discover all of Albert's tips and techniques click here   [embed][/embed]

What I've Learned: A Photographer's Journey - Paul Marvuglio

What I've Learned: A Photographer's Journey is a Masters of Photography series dedicated to our students, exploring the stories behind the imagery they have created. For other student interviews check our blog posts. 

  Paul Marvuglio is a photographer that is currently retired and works on his craft in New Jersey, USA. The photo below was posted to our photostream by Paul and it immediately caught our attention. We loved the sense of atmosphere of the setting and the plethora of different textures and tones in his black and white work. His photos often have a real richness in detail and a level of intensity to them. In Paul's images we are also reminded of the work of Eugene Atget of Paris streets. Interested, we got in touch with Paul to do a Photographer's Journey exploration to find out more about his work and his inspirations.  

Tell us about yourself

I spent my working life in the pigment industry working with colour which “explains” my preference for black and white photography. I now am living in New Jersey and have finally retired. This is my second stint in New Jersey was born here but have spent 20 years out of the state. I live just beyond the urban sprawl in the garden part of the Garden State, 45 minutes from the Hudson and an hour and a half from Manhattan. I was a snapshot photographer for many years. When I retired my photography became more serious endeavour and provides a bridge from my working days to my at leisure days.  

How long have you been into photography?

I started in 1965 taking snapshots, but didn’t get into more involved photography until 1971, I had a wet darkroom until 1987 and then went back to snapshots until 1998 when I converted to digital. I did not get seriously interests in landscape photography until 2004. Since then I have created 6 self-published books. This was more a scrapbooking effort than a literary effort. I substituted piles of pages for piles of prints. My photography is now trending toward urban photography hence the course. The big adjustment was not shooting on a tripod. It felt uneasy for a while.

What made you want to start taking photographs?

I was stationed in Greece and would take pictures to send home. Then in 1971, I started to take pictures to send to the grandparents back east.   [caption id="attachment_11815" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA[/caption]

What do you enjoy in photography?

Between photographing and printing I enjoy printing. Photographing is an immediate process 1/125 or 1/250th of a second and you’re done. You capture what you pointed the camera at. Printing is a more involved process requiring involvement for a longer period of time. While you are bound by your ”negative” on what you can create, the final print is bound by your skill and creativity. Making a silk purse from something other than silk. The wet darkroom was changing in the immediacy of your actions. Reproducibility was difficult for other than for straight prints. The digital darkroom offers a more considered approach to image creation. You have the ability to “sketch” until you find the image you prefer and then print. You can then print it again with or without additional corrections from the place you stopped, not from the beginning. What I like about printing is having more control over the result. At the end of the day you can look at what you created with a sense of accomplishment, rather than “how did that happen?” [activecampaign form=15]

What is your favourite piece of kit?

The camera I have used mostly is a Canon 5D with a variety of lenses (mostly a 17-40), as I moved to more urban type shooting and traveling by Air I have taken to using a Olympus Pen F with a 24-80 mostly due to the weight reduction. My style is to carry my camera in hand all day using my pockets as a camera bag. The Pen F has a little more distortion at wider angles than the full frame Canon. I started photographing with a Petri 7S range finder with a match the needle exposure system. A digital version would be my choice today. From a software choice I use Photoshop CC mostly because I know how to use it. I have tried Lightroom but I go back to PS because I know how to do it in PS. The DXO Silver Effects Pro plug-in; is the software I would hate to lose it offers a great deal of control in converting to black and white. Ease of use and familiarity is what drives my preferences I like the Canon because my fingers know where the buttons are, muscle memory. This also applies to Photoshop. I am a creature of habit.  

What was the most influential moment in inspiring your photography?

I don’t really have an epiphany moment. What encouraged me to purse photography further is when I had a photo accepted in a juried art show. I then approached exhibiting as an exercise to determine if my photography had and merit.

What does your photography say about you as a person?

Photography can say little about you as a person; it can reveal a level of skill and artistic ability. Who you are; photography can only infer; through the photographs you chose to take and share with others. Even that can be misleading. What you take is in some way dictated buy your situation - combat photographers are duty bound to picture death. If working for House and Gardens, plants and flowers are the photographs of choice. What is taken is also dictated by what is selling or what an editor thinks meets his needs. What photography says about me is I have an eye for what and when to take a picture and my selection of subject has some artistic merit. Additionally that I have mastered the technical skills needed to create a useful image. My photography tends to be, as one teacher put it; classical. My photography is not edgy but more traditional. I tend to print darker than most. This prompted another photographer to comment that my photographs were morbid. You could use my photographic style to describe me as a cautious, follow the rules sort of person, a bit of a perfectionist and not particularly perky with a dry sense of humour?  

Which photographer or book has had the biggest impact on you? Why?

Two photographer’s books are involved in creating my approach to photography. Ansel Adams series on photography and Vincent Versace’s “Welcome to OZ”. Both developed the concept that photographs are “composed”. That photographic development and printing are not a static rote process but can be manipulated to create a photograph that expresses your view. The concept of fine art photography verses documentary photography.

Are you working on a photography project?

I have several photographic projects under way.
  1. I am compiling a portfolio of a series of food at farmer’s market pictures.
  2. Scanning Family pictures to create a book of my extended family to allow others in the family to see them. Now just a box on pictures in my closet.
  3. A longer rang project is to photograph “Passages” in Paris. Those narrow shopping areas more alleys than streets. I am now at the research stage as to where. The project will start in 2020.

What are your favourite photographs that you have taken?

  1. Princeton Battle Field Farm. This is a farm in Princeton taken from a post that marks the battle of Princeton. It is a 6 image panorama. (photo 2)
  2. Victor Emmanuel Monument Rome. This image started as a colour slide in 1960 was scanned in the early 2000’s and converted to black and white. It had defects –Halos, these were finally repaired his year (photo 4).
  3. Tearoom. This a Teashop in Paris at the Place des Vosges, 2014 (photo 7).
  4. Passage Du Chantier Paris. There is a person in the picture, 2017 (photo 3)
  5. Street Performer Italy. This is a composite of a street performer in Venice Italy. His expression changed as people walked by. A frown if you did not donate a smile if you did. Street photography after post processing (photo 6).

What is your favourite photograph from a different photographer?

Yousuf Karsh’s portrait of Winston Churchill. I don’t know if it’s the image or the back story. Churchill’s expression was the result of Karsh plucking the cigar from Churchill’s mouth.  

How did the course benefit you?

The ability to be in the moment and approach urban photography, not as outsider looking in - candid photography, but as an insider photographing the surrounding goings-on.

In the course you have taken with us, what was your favourite lesson?

Joel Meyerowitz Lesson 29: Tuscany- Inside Light. First it was a conversation between two people. Not a single individual talking at you. They were talking together and at you describing their creative process... The conversation on how two people can take their different skill sets and cooperate in producing something. In this case a book. Two views one task.     A Photographer's Journey credits. Photos 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,9 by Paul Marvuglio Photo 8 by Yousuf Karsh   [activecampaign form=15]  

What I've Learned: A Photographer's Journey - Alexandros Tsiolis

What I've Learned: A Photographer's Journey is a Masters of Photography series dedicated to our students, exploring the stories behind the imagery they have created

Alexandros Tsiolis is a photographer that was born and raised on the Greek island of Corfu where he works at his family's restaurant. The first time we recognised Alexandros' work was when he uploaded the below shot to the photostream. We found that the photos had a beautiful and haunting quality and showed a distictive style and approach to the medium. We feel that he has followed Joel's lessons and advice and is developing his photographic eye. Even on an island you can find photographic opportunities everywhere, as Joel says it's all about finding your identity.

What made you want to start taking photographs?

I got into photography 5 years ago. I am a father of two girls and I started taking pictures of my first daughter, she was the reason I took an interest in photography. Trying to make better portraits of my children was the beginning!

What do you enjoy in photography?

As well as taking photos of my children, I really enjoy waking with my camera and taking photos, mainly street photography and the documenting of everyday life, this is what I love to do.

What is your favourite piece of equipment?

I prefer using my Fujifilm Xpro2 with 23mm f2 lens. It is the gear that makes me feel comfortable in the streets and 23mm (35mm) is the focal length that helps me frame better. This combination of gear makes it easier for me to approach people.

What was the most influential moment in inspiring your photography?

The most influential moment that inspired me was when my teacher, Nikos Vourgidis, showed me Henri Cartier-Bresson's photos. That completely changed my mind about photography, from that day onward, street photography became my real passion.

What does your photography say about you as a person?

I don't think that my photos show much about me as a person, I am simply on a quest of some nice moments in the streets, or of my life. This is the only thing I need from photography right now, to make nice pictures out of the simple things of life.

Which photographer or book has had the biggest impact on you? Why?

I am inspired by many photographers, mainly black and white photographers. Firstly I was inspired by Trent Parke and then by Stavros Stamatiou. I love the way they make great shots from simple things like rainy days, night lights and reflections. I am also very fond of Nikos Economopoulos and Joseph Koudelka for their unique compositions. Lastly of course, Joel Meyerowitz, who has influenced me with his wonderful street shots.

Are you working on a photography project? OR do you have one in mind or one that you'd like to start?

A year ago I discovered that I was working on a project without noticing, which was the progression of my daughters' childhoods, so I called it "Growing Up". I would like to have a street photography project, but nothing yet.

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What are your favourite photographs that you have taken?

I don't really have a favourite photo, maybe it's one where all my family is sleeping on one bed.

What is your favourite photograph from a different photographer?

I can think a lot of photos I really like. Right now I remember only a photo of Stavros Stamatiou with birds flying at night and all their eyes blinking from his flash (see below).

How did the course benefit you?

Joel Meyerowitz gave me the opportunity to see a legendary photographer at work.  It taught me how he moves in the streets and I loved the part of his workshop and his feedback to participants. It was great to have an online course like this, especially for someone who lives on an island.

What is the best piece of photographic advice you have come across?

There is no specific advice that I consider my favourite, but the part where Joel was speaking with his students at a workshop was the part of the course I loved most.

Photo 1,2,3,4,6 by Alexandros Tsiolis

Photo 5 by Stavros Stamatiou

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What I've Learned: A Photographer's Journey - Mark Darbin

What I've Learned: A Photographer's Journey is a Masters of Photography series dedicated to our students, exploring the stories behind the imagery they have created

  Mark Darbin is a photographer based in Portsmouth, on the south-east coast of England. We first noticed Mark when he uploaded the photo below to the photostream. We loved the originality and the humour of the shot, which are themes that run through Mark's work. When we reposted the photo on our Instagram, it was tremendously well received, so we decided to get in touch to find out more.    

How long have you been into photography?

I’ve had several film cameras over the years but really got into photography about 7 years ago when I got my first DSLR.   I think that I needed a digital camera, with the more immediate feedback and the freedom to take as many pictures as I wanted, to enable me figure out how to use a camera properly.

"What I really enjoy is the challenge of trying to make a photograph out of a scene where there appears to be nothing, or to turn something mundane into something unusual."

What made you want to start taking photographs / what do you enjoy in photography?

I started off with the usual family photos and then moved onto landscapes, abstracts and macro photos.  From there I developed an interest in more urban based photography, which came out of a visit to the Tate Modern where I started photographing people interacting with the exhibits.   [activecampaign form=15]   I’m an introvert by nature and am fairly reserved. Having a camera in my hand gives me time to think. What I really enjoy is the challenge of trying to make a photograph out of a scene where there appears to be nothing, or to turn something mundane into something unusual.  It’s that moment when you make a picture out of what appears to be a perfectly normal object, or situation, and it turns into something interesting.   [caption id="attachment_10481" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA[/caption]   As an example, I’ve chosen the picture of two people on a beach juxtaposed in a litter bin. It’s a fairly standard picture in some ways, but the real reason I took it was that they were the only people on the beach, on a fairly chilly dull day, and they’d chosen to sit exactly perpendicular with the bin and at just the right distance to line up with the slot in the top.

What is your favourite piece of kit (camera, lens or other)?

I usually use an OM-D EM10 with either a 17mm or 45mm prime, but at the end of the day these are really just tools.  The one thing I have which is irreplaceable is an old and very battered OM-1 which was my father-in-law’s. He bought the camera for a trip around South America in the 70’s, and was still using up to when he passed away last year.    

What does your photography say about you as a person?

Hmm, I had to ask my wife about this one … most of the time I tend to stand in the background and observe.  I find the ordinary often absurd and very funny. As an example, I chose the picture of the two photographers taken from above (see below). A very rare brown bird had been spotted and they were trying to get a shot of it. This picture was taken from the sea wall and what drew me to take it was the weight of the lenses, the way the couple leant into each other and the lines. And this was all for a small brown bird that was about the size of a tea cup. However, I’d stress that I’m really not making any judgement on the amount of kit they had etc., especially as, from looks they gave me, they really couldn’t understand why I would want to photograph them. So the joke went both ways.  

Which photographer or book has had the biggest impact on you? Why?

Wow, difficult question … there are so many, I really like Daido Moriyama, Saul Leiter, Mark Power, Joel Meyerowitz, Ansel Adams etc. Sadly I think this comes out in my photos which sometimes seem to be all over the place and often have no consistent style. The book that has the biggest impact changes over time. However, the one that more often than not seems to be on top of the (very small) pile that I own, is Vivian Maier’s. Getting past the long lost genius myth, I think that what I really like is that she can make some very candid, personal pictures, but you never feel that she was being voyeuristic or intrusive.  I think that you need to bear this in mind when photographing on the street. Whilst what you do may be legal, I’m very aware of the moral implications of sticking a camera in someone’s face. Vivian Maier never lost the humanity in the process … and she was also the only person who could ever take a good selfie.

What are your favourite photographs that you have taken? 

I’ve mentioned two above. One of the other ones I’ve chosen is the dog and graffiti cat (see top of article). I’d been walking past it for about a year thinking there must be something that can be done with it.  On the day I took this I saw the dog coming in the other direction and had enough time to crouch down on the opposite wall. Fortunately, the dog lurched in at me as it went past.     Another picture I’ve chosen was taken at the design museum (see above).  I noticed the couple at the top left and took the shot across the atrium to get some height, just before they all moved.  Hopefully the narrative is fairly self-explanatory.

What is your favourite photograph by any other photographer?

There are so many.  To narrow this down I’ve chosen from photographs that I’ve actually seen, rather than in a book or online.  I really like Saul Leiter’s work and was lucky to see an exhibition at the Photographer’s Gallery. The one I’ve chosen is Through Boards (see below).  I really like the negative space and the use of his signature red colour, both in the street scene itself and in the foreground, which almost makes it look like you're looking through a Rothko painting.   The scene itself looks very mundane until you see the man looking inwards from the car at the women and the group on the left. Whilst it’s useful to try and copy what other people have done, I’d eventually like to be able to make photos that only I could make: Saul Leiter’s colour pictures are instantly recognisable, no-one else could take them.    


How did the course benefit you?

I was originally drawn to the course because of the street photography sections and on the basis of Joel’s work in urban environments, and it was really useful to see how he approaches this. As a result I’ve stopped using the back screen on my camera and have started using the view finder again, which makes me much more visible, but also seems to allow you to get closer to people … and “sorry, but I really liked your smile” does work when someone asks why you’ve just taken their photograph.

"Joel’s questions around [...] what drives you to take a photograph are really useful, especially when combined with the idea of being able to construct a narrative around why you’ve made and selected a particular picture"

    I must admit that I wasn’t really interested in the student review sections, but these have proved to be really thought provoking, particularly lesson 18 and 19.  One big problem I find is trying to assess your own photographs, particularly trying to separate yourself from the situation in which they were taken. Joel’s questions around finding the identity of the human being who made the photograph, what drives you to take a photograph etc. are really useful, especially when combined with the idea in Lesson 3 – Looking at Pictures, of being able to construct a narrative around why you’ve made and selected a particular picture.

What is the best piece of photographic advice you have come across?

“… photography looks like pictures, but is really ideas”.   Photo 1,2,3,4,5,7 by Mark Darbin Photo 6 by Saul Leiter   [activecampaign form=15]

What I've Learned: A Photographer's Journey - Jeff Hulton


What I've Learned: A Photographer's Journey is a Masters of Photography series dedicated to our students, exploring the stories behind the imagery they have created

  Jeff Hulton is a photographer that has lived outside Boston for over 30 years, originally coming from Connecticut. He graduated from college in New York City and spent his sophomore year studying in Austria. We noticed the quality of Jeff’s photos when he uploaded several to the photostream on the Masters of Photography website. His portrait of a young boy (see above) grabbed our attention in particular, which we reposted on our Instagram page on 8 June this year. Wanting to know more about Jeff’s life and attitude to photography, we contacted him for a chat.

What made you want to start taking photographs?

Photography for me started at home with a mother and a cousin who loved to take photos. In college in Austria I discovered that art was far more than documenting your travels and came back to NY to study seriously. I had the greatest of privilege studying with Sol Libsohn, co-founder of The Photo League and later with Fred Picker at ZoneVI Workshop. After 11 startups in high tech I now spent most of my time pursuing the next image. Initially, like many people I started documenting my family, my travels and my environment. After visiting the top art museums and cathedrals of Europe, I realized that Art and photography could be so much more. When back in NY, the more I studied other photographers work and sought out my own images, the more I realized I was seeing things in the world very differently and needed to express this. I am attracted to the abstractions of place and things, the qualities of light and the juxtapositions of color and so many “normal things” we encounter every day.  

What do you enjoy in photography?

Photography for me is a way to discover the World. I take the greatest pleasure in walking or driving down new roads with my camera to simply experience and react to the marvelous things I see. I also for sure love Landscape but always seek out a new way of seeing traditional places.  

"my photos suggest I am a very inquisitive person that sees things in an abstract way. I see connections of form and colour where obvious connections don't exist"

What was the most influential moment in inspiring your photography?

When Sol Lipsohn in my junior year of college stood me up in front of the class with another photographer who excelled in showing the passion of his baro in NY but suffered from weak technique and said “You Mr. Hulton need to learn from this man and YOU Sir need to learn from Mr. Hulton. If the photo doesn’t move you it’s not going to move me!” [activecampaign form=15]

What does your photography say about you as a person?

I guess my photos suggest that I am a very inquisitive person that sees things in an abstract way. I see connections of form and colour where obvious connections don't exist. I think of this in music like what bebop meant to straight ahead Jazz. The forms are there but man those guys took another road to get around it! Marvellous!

Which photographer or book has had the biggest impact on you? Why?

Next to Sol Lipsohn and working in his class, I think my favourite photographer is Brett Weston for the way he saw landscapes, natural detail and used form, light and shadow to illuminate something completely new. He clearly got me going in a different direction. And then there is Harry Gruyaert! How he sees colour [activecampaign form=11]and form inspires me.

"Joel Meyerowitz has a great ability to help you focus on “spirit” and “life” and this is what I need to constantly refresh in my own work.The best images are never about equipment, place or technique, they are about spirit, light and your emotional response."

Are you working on a photography project? Or do you have one in mind that you'd like to start?

I have three projects underway looking for expression. I have spent 4-5 sessions working in an old group of grain elevators in Buffalo. Seeing what Charles Scheeler did with similar subjects inspired me to try and abstract these forms in black and white. I am also distilling a group of images I did in Mexico with Arthur Meyerson’s Masters Class. For the first time I stepped out of my comfort zone a bit and worked a lot in colour and form. The work of Harry Gruyaert helped me see this way. The last and longest going project is to curate many, many images I have made in Yellowstone over the last 8 years. I get back there every year and each time my images drift farther from straight photography. And then there’s the upcoming 21 days in Japan come November/December!  

What are your favourite photographs that you have taken?

I think I have two areas that have given me images I love. One are the portraits I have made when I found a connection with my subject. I have one from 1972 and one from last Oct in Mexico. The other area is the new color photos of form and light I did in Mexico. While these images have no direct rational meaning, they seem to capture something special for me about light, color and the interaction of form.

What is your favourite photograph by any photographer?

Probably the blowing curtain image that Minor White did (see below). It speaks to me of a form of energy/spirit behind the image.  

How did the course benefit you?

Joel Meyerowitz has a great ability to help you focus on “spirit” and “Life” and this is what I need to constantly refresh in my own work. The best images are never about equipment, place or technique, they are about spirit, light and your emotional response. The course reinforced this and provided more ideas on how to approach your search for the next image.

In the course you have taken with us, what was your favourite lesson and why?

I loved “The Magicians Trick” because it shows you concrete examples of how to Up your Game and Raise your Desire.” Who doesn’t need that?

What is the best piece of photographic advice you have come across?

“Steal with your eyes” - Fred Picker. One of the great lessons of the Masters of Photography video series is that you can “steal with your eyes” not just listen. How Joel moves around like a dancer driven by his desire to interact with the subject on an emotional level. That is where great stuff happens.   Follow Jeff on instagram: @jhulton     [activecampaign form=15]     Image 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7 by Jeff Hulton. Image 5 by Minor White.  

Steve McCurry: Untold Stories

One of our MoP Masters Steve McCurry opens his new exhibition at The Moscow Museum of Modern Art. Running from July 2nd to September 2nd, the project which includes at least 80 works, intending to reveal Steve's creative method and process, using fragments from notebooks,  routes of his movements and a unique set of photographs. Untold Stories will present to the audience works from one of the largest art museums in the world as well as archive materials from Steve McCurry's studio. The exhibition runs on a preliminary registration and ticket admission basis. For more information visit To take a course with Steve, visit  

Joel Meyerowitz feature on 'It's Nice That'

One of our MoP Masters, Joel Meyerowitz, has been featured by the hugely popular 'It's Nice That' publication, written by Jenny Brewer.     Titled The porous and sometimes political work of legendary photographer Joel Meyerowitz, the article interviews Joel and explores his early life, what drew him to the medium of photography and what it means to him, before detailing his new autobiography Where I Find Myself and his experience photographing Ground Zero after the 9/11 attacks. Joel then goes on to explain his love for teaching, and how he often comes across photographers with "social intelligence" that show an understanding of the world they live in. "It's important that photographers go and look at the environment they're in, and see what they can say about it." - Joel Meyerowitz Read the full article here Learn from Joel today by taking his course Purchase Joel's autobiography. Joel Meyerowitz: Where I Find Myself is available here  

Joel Meyerowitz Interview: BBC News Global   MoP master Joel Meyerowitz visits the BBC News studio to talk with Matthew Amroliwala. He discusses the contents his new book Where I Find Myself, which features all of his greatest work, from his impelling shots of Ground Zero to his iconic, second-to-none street photography. Learn how to train your photographic eye with Joel at: Joel Meyerowitz: Where I Find Myself: A Lifetime Retrospective (An Elephant Book) is available on Amazon on:

Interview with Joel Meyerowitz by NYC-ARTS

  Joel Meyerowitz talks to NYC-ARTS about his endless passion for photography.  

Student Interview: Zack Whitford

Zack Whitford, one of Joel Meyerowitz's earliest students on the course, is a successful photographer in his own right and has been in the game for around 8 years. We asked him a few questions about his career, his photography and what he's gained from studying Joel's course.

[caption id="attachment_4098" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Zack Whitford by Graham Whitford[/caption]

Hi Zack, can you tell us a little bit about yourself, your personal background and your style of photography?

My name is Zack Whitford and I am a documentary photographer based in Los Angeles. I got serious about photography about eight years ago and have been shooting professionally, full time, for six of those years. Working as a professional photographer has taken me down some unexpected roads. I have found success doing some things that I never expected to be doing, like music photography. My style of photograph, where I’m most comfortable, is working with people in their element. I love to be a fly on the wall.
For several years I was fortunate enough to be able to travel around the world photographing a rock band. But after a while I was yearning to spend more time at home with my family. So I decided to take a break from touring. Nowadays, I do a lot of high-end event work for an image agency in Los Angeles. This has proven to be a massive challenge and one of the greatest learning experiences I have ever had in my short time as a photographer.
All that said, I am at my absolute happiest when I am traveling with my camera and photographing people in different parts of the world, just trying to convey the sense that we’re all in this thing together.

How did you get into photography? Was there anything in particular that you remember that made you want to be a photographer?

In 2010, my girlfriend and I visited The Getty Museum in Los Angeles and viewed a war photography exhibit. Part of the exhibit were photos from military emergency rooms in Iraq, shot by James Nachtwey. Those just completely knocked me on my ass. I was in awe of how close he got and how it looked like you were viewing these harrowing scenes through the eyes of one of the trauma surgeons. I just couldn’t believe it. Something in those photos hit a switch in me.
I had always been interested in photography but never passionate about it. My mother was a professional photographer, so I grew up around it. I took a class in high school where I learned the basics, how to develop, print, etc. But it wasn’t until those Nachtwey photos that I ever thought “I have to try this.” I shared this sentiment with my mother and she mentioned that she had a Nikon D90 sitting around that she wasn’t using, so she sent it to me along with a 24 & 50mm lens. At the time I was working in an office job in Hollywood. On my breaks I would walk around the streets with my new camera. I remember reading online that you should ‘ALWAYS SHOOT IN MANUAL’. So I would walk around with the lens on manual focus, while the camera was probably on full auto. It took me a little while (and a lot of missed, out of focus shots) to realize what they actually meant. One thing that didn’t take a while was realizing how much I loved shooting on the street, photographing people, scenes, etc. It wasn’t long before I was completely hooked.

Tell us about 2 of your favourite pieces of work.

This is a tough one, I suppose I’ll go to two opposite ends of the spectrum but stay within the theme of people.
I shot the first image in the Punakha Zhong (a government building/monastery) in Bhutan. I was part of a tour group at the time but the formulaic nature of the tour was frustrating me. So, I sneaked off and went into a part of the complex that tourists and foreigners were forbidden from entering. I realize this wasn’t the right thing to do but something inside of me, or as Joel Meyerowitz would say, my “instinct,” was telling me to go and look for a shot that everyone else wasn’t getting. Luckily, I found this great, long hallway with beautiful window light spilling in. I decided to wait there for someone to come down the hall and, hopefully, allow me to photograph them. I was hoping it would be a Buddhist monk, as there were a lot living in the Zhong.
After only a few minutes, two young monks rounded the corner and were clearly quite surprised to see me there. There was this instant playful sense that they, as well as I, knew I wasn’t supposed to be there. One of the boys, probably not wanting to get in trouble, quickly departed, but the other stayed and immediately started posing. He was breaking into various tough guys poses, outstretching his arms, flexing his biceps. Even breaking into a couple of clearly practiced and impressive martial art stances. After about a minute he began signalling to me what I could only interpret as “get ready for what I’m about to do”. He then, in one motion, leapt up, outstretched his arms and legs and completely braced himself laterally in between the two walls of the hallway. I share it with you now because it is to this day, my favourite photo that I have taken.

Such a nice shot. And the second?

The other shot was from when I was working; shooting a tour for the rock band Aerosmith. We were at The Forum in Inglewood, CA and while my job normally consisted of general coverage of the band, photographing a meet & greet with fans and then the concert itself, tonight was a bit different as the owners of the venue wanted me to get some kind of candid shots that they would potentially hang up in the halls of the backstage area, which are adorned with many photographs taken over the years, all shot within The Forum.
Anyway, I was wandering around backstage, very much feeling the pressure of the assignment as the band is pretty laid back, especially in the hours leading up to a concert (this was no longer the days of sex, drugs & rock n’ roll). I decided to go and take a peek in Joe Perry’s (the band’s lead guitarist) dressing room only to find Dave Grohl of Nirvana & The Foo Fighters hanging out in there with him. I fired off a few frames without using my flash in an effort to be discrete. Nothing special, just Joe jamming on his guitar and Dave hanging out. Suddenly, from behind where I was standing, Steven Tyler (Aerosmith’s flamboyant lead singer) bursts into the room. For a reason I still don’t know to this day, just plops three apples into Dave Grohl’s arms. Dave just starts juggling them, quite well, I might add. I decided now was the time for flash so I switched on my speedlite and took a couple of shots. Fortunately, I got the shot and about 24 hours later, after submitting the photo to the owners of The Forum, they told me they wanted to buy the print to hang in their halls.

You've got some great stories! Thanks for sharing. What brought you to Masters of Photography and why did you choose to study Joel's course?

I chose to study Joel’s course because he’s a living legend, and as a fellow street photographer, I believe his work transcends the art form into the sublime. There is something very dream like about his photos. Plus, his personality and unbridled enthusiasm are infectious. I was also interested in his course because I am learning to shoot with a rangefinder and he is one of the authorities on shooting with that type of camera. Not that you need one to take successful candid shots.

What is the most important thing you think you've learned from the course?

The most important thing I have learned from the course is to trust my instincts. That if I see a shot, I should not hesitate and just go for it! Joel is very adamant about this and since viewing the course, it has already helped me greatly! Also, just hearing Joel wax poetic about photography will have you chomping at the bit to go out and shoot. I enjoyed watching the course lessons at night before bed. When I woke up the next day I was teeming with excitement to go out and try what I had learned. It’s definitely the best online photography course I have experienced to date and I am beyond excited for Steve McCurry's upcoming course.

Thanks Zack, it was great to talk to you!

You can see more of Zack's work on instagram on on his website. To see the work of other students, check out the Masters of Photography Photostream