In this industry, the ones who want success tend to take the greatest risks in order to get there. Zach Sutton’s story is just such a tale, a tale that starts with him risking everything when he packed his bags in Michigan and decided to move to Albuquerque, New Mexico. He saw potential in the small town and has since made a name for himself in the headshot and portraiture market. “I got started like a lot of people did, I think. I had always had a passion for the arts, being a musician, as well as an artist in my childhood. I had taken some photography classes growing up and found it interesting, just not entirely viable. I eventually bought myself this nice little point-and-shoot Sony camera and started playing with all the features it had.”
Once Zach graduated to a DSLR though, things changed. “It wasn’t until I bought the Canon XTi when it first came out though that my passion for photography really took of. From that point on, I’ve always identified myself as a photographer and photography as my passion.” But it wasn’t until one very particular moment that he realized that portrait photography was for him. “I was working a community service event, where I was taking studio photos for people for free, and getting them printed on site so that they had something to give their family for the holidays. One of the clients that day was a homeless man named David. I took a photo, much like I did hundreds of times that day before him, and he saw it and began crying. As it turns out, David hadn’t had his photo taken in over 10 years, so seeing it be printed out for him was an overwhelming moment. The emotion from it all passed along to me and stayed there….that was the moment that I knew portrait photography was my place, and where I could do some really special things.”
Zach is open to a wide range of portrait styles, embracing what he has to in order to succeed. “I’m not entirely sure what my style is. I recently branded the term “Environmental Portraiture” and it seems to fit my body of work well. I like to take photos of people- plain and simple. Whether it’s a fashion editorial, or something as simple as a headshot session, I enjoy capturing someones personality on camera and building a photo that represents them.”
“My current goals, aside from the always prevalent idea of betting better at my craft, is building the passion for photography through education and inspiration. Aside from writing ideas and tutorials all the time, I also teach a lot of workshops and have a tutorial series coming out in a month or so through RGG EDU. I want to make the photography community better. If that is through taking photos, I will. If that is through scribbling tutorials out, I will, and if that is through hosting workshops and lectures all over the United States, I will. I think we’re in a really powerful time in history for photography, with it being more accessible and visible than ever… and we sometimes take that for granted.”
Zach’s Favorite Gear
Zach’s Advice to Emerging Photographers
“The best advice I have for beginners who are looking at photography is to simply have an open mind. I didn’t go to school for photography, nor did I really ever get a formal training on it. I got better by listening to my peers, and by engulfing my entire life into photography through the use of websites, forums, and YouTube tutorials. It’s easy to get discouraged in this industry, with everyone becoming a photographer these days. But I can assure you, quality will always beat quantity, and the cream will always rise to the top.”
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