I am so excited to have Carl Zoch as our last guest poster! He is a constant inspiration to me. The way he captures such emotion and authenticity blows me away. I am constantly awed by his photographs. Everytime I visit his blog I am so motivated to bring my photography to the next level; to try harder, see more, create more beauty in my life. He is just awesome.
Carl was so very sweet to offer this awesome information in the midst of his travels across the country. Thank you so much Carl! We are truly honored!
How did you get started in photography?
Unintentionally, actually. I was working a full-time job for a number of years and slowly started photographing friends who needed some form of photography done. I’ve always been the guy with the camera so by default things were headed in that direction. Things snowballed and eventually got to a place where I had to make a decision between my passion and my full-time job. There was no hesitation on what I was going to do next.
Do you have a particular image/photographer that inspired your career?
Absolutely. My curiosity took off when I was pretty young when seeing the work of classics like Ansel Adams. The first time I saw his work I knew that I wanted to go to there. Wherever ‘there’ was. Annie Leibovitz has also been a huge influence. Those photographers, along with many in between have inspired me to feel my way through a camera. Way beyond just pressing the shutter.
I’ve been lucky to have amazing friends along the way who have been super transparent, patient and inspiring. John and Kim Sanderson are great friend’s of mine that helped me launch forward with my business. They’re super inspiring and beautiful people. I also have a good friend who lives in the Yosemite area, Shawn Reeder. He’s one of the most driven people I know. He’s been ridiculously inspiring and encouraging to me as far as the uncharted career territories that I’m exploring right now. Check those guys out!
What equipment do you use?
I’m currently shooting with a couple of beat up Canon 5DMKIIs and a good collection of Holgas.
Your landscapes and portraits are equally as stunning. Which do you prefer shooting?
Thank you! There are days where I love one more than the other. Then I wake up the next day and feel the opposite. I’ve battled over the years on which one to pursue more than the other. I’ve since then given up on that battle and have fully embraced both. People’s stories and the outdoor lifestyle equally inspire me, and when the two meet it’s even more beautiful. That is what I’m ultimately aiming for.
You capture very intimate, emotional shots of people that are just amazing. How do you approach this in a shoot?
Thank you! That has always been a difficult questions to answer. I think for me it’s a perfect blend between booking couples that I mesh well with in addition to their willingness to be vulnerable in front of the camera. Most couples know that I want to create images that make you feel, so with that comes an openness to just be in front of the camera. It is definitely a collective endeavor.
What was your favorite shoot and why?
I don’t have an all-time favorite but I have quite a bit of ties. I’ve shot a lot for my friends and their families (and clients that have become good friends). Some of my favorite moments in life are those times shared, when I’m capturing the raw and honest lives they live together. I’ve even been lucky enough to photograph the arrival of a few of their children. There hasn’t been a time where I’ve left those shoots with dry eyes.
What does your editing process look like?
In this recent chapter of life I’ve been traveling an insane amount, so I find myself editing pretty much anywhere I can be comfortable. More logistically speaking, I’ve been using VSCO quite a bit recently and have really loved the simplicity of it. I also use a variety of my own photoshop actions that I’ve created and dialed in over the years.
How did your business develop?
In short: I temporarily paid for some advertising, quit my job and jumped in with both feet. Completely uneducated may I add. Not the recommended route for sure :) Over the years and as my style developed, I began to find clarity in terms of what and where I wanted to spend my energy shooting. From there I was able to structure a business model that was true to my passions and one that didn’t water down the things in life that make me come alive.
Do you have any advice for beginner photographers?
Please do not ignore your instinct and intuition, they are uniquely yours and your best asset. Stop comparing yourself to other artists. You are the only one who can see and capture life the way you do, so lean into it unapologetically. If you haven’t found your niche/style yet, that’s ok. Keep on. Shoot, shoot and shoot some more. It’s a process that can’t be forced. Plus, I don’t believe that there is such a thing as “arrival”, so take some rest in that and enjoy the creative process.
If you are wanting to run a business or are already doing so, outsource what you’re bad at/not passionate about at and dominate what you love. Spend some time discovering what makes you tick and why you’re doing what you’re doing. It’s a game changer. Arguably, your business should be shaped from that place. Read this book if you haven’t already - http://www.amazon.com/Start-Why-Leaders-Inspire-Everyone/dp/1591842808
Do you consider yourself a creative photographer, and if so, why?
Depending on my caffeine intake, I sometimes consider myself a creative photographer :)
What was the best thing you did for your business?
The best thing that I personally did for my business was to shape it into a completely portable and mobile operation. Once that happened I was able to pursue the things that move and inspire me, which end up giving back to what I create. My entire business model and ethic has been designed around that.
How do you stay inspired and keep growing with your work?
I’m at my best creatively when I’m doing the things that inspire me. That obviously looks different for everyone. For myself it’s a solid blend between being outside (in a variety of ways) and being connected communally with the people I love. The best times I have in life are when those two things blend. That is the place in which I am deeply inspired.
What are your longterm goals/dreams with your photography?
I’d love nothing more than to continue what I’m doing now - shooting compelling stories/love stories and photographing the outdoor/adventure lifestyle. I’m actually in the process of blending those two things together, which I’m super stoked about. I’m also having a constant internal conversation of what a permanent gallery would look like. That would be a pretty rad and welcomed addition.
Thank you so much Carl!! Please check out Carl here: