Monday, February 1, 2010

February 2010 Artists of the Month~ A Fresh Perspective Photography by Andrea and Zak Metz

You know that little fluttery feeling in your stomach, when you find out someone you know is doing some cool, good stuff out there in the world? Stuff that you might have had no hand in, no effect on, but you are still so happy for them and just wish them the absolute best?

Yup, I feel like that when I look at Zak Metz's photos.

In the world of people who are content at being good at one or two or three things, Zak is A Modern Renaissance Man. Pretty much self taught in every venture he tackles, he approaches each new challenge with curiosity, an open mind and an unwillingness to be defeated. He learns, he does, does well, does to the extreme and then moves on to the next subject to dominate. Whether in his day job of writing computer code to his side love of this photography business, Zak and his wife and partner, do not stop at less than exceptional.

It does not surprise that the images he captures are nothing short of awe inspiring.

Although A Fresh Perspective is a combined effort of a wife and husband team, Zak is the creative director and thus, answered the following questions with thoughtful wit and modesty.

Q~ How did you get started?

A~ It all started when I was about twelve or thirteen, I borrowed my dad’s SLR camera and 35mm wide-angle lens, the only lens he had. I had found a screw-on macro lens and was fascinated with the detail it revealed in leaves and flowers. I bought a roll of 36-exposure ISO400 and explored my backyard and my neighborhood, carefully using up those 36 frames. I spent days on that project and couldn’t wait to see the results.

When I unloaded the film, I discovered that I hadn’t loaded it right. It hadn’t captured a single image. I was heartbroken. It seemed unlikely that I’d ever take a picture again.

Fast forward to High School and begin again.

It all (re)started when I was in High School. I had an art teacher who realized I had an artistic bent and who encouraged me to try new things, to hell with the curriculum. Another student and I hid away in the unused second art room while the rest of the class learned about perspective and other basics that I had already taught myself.

I drew. I painted. I felt like there was something there, but I didn’t feel like I had discovered just what. I liked the results, but it still felt like work. It felt like I was trying to get perfect results with imperfect tools. The lines were never perfectly straight, the paint never perfectly smooth. I didn’t know what that meant or why I wanted it so much.

Like every teenager, I was into music, so in the evenings when I had ample free time thanks to insomnia, I started an online music magazine. This was before the Internet, so I distributed my album reviews on a much smaller network called FidoNet. I had letterhead and envelopes. I was getting a couple CDs a day in the mail. I called my magazine Clandestine Record Reviews.

It got some attention and I had some readers. My parents found it quite amusing that record labels were calling me to arrange interviews and concert reviews hoping for
some good press. The local newspaper printed a few of my reviews, but I knew inside that this still wasn’t the artistic outlet I needed.

Suddenly I got married, had a kid, and the magazine went silent.

A few years later I started it back up, this time on the Internet, and with a new name: Distortion Music Magazine, “Friend to the Fringe.” Still looking for a real connection to art, I found myself attracted to experimental music. It spoke to me, but I struggled trying to find the words to express how it made me feel. I just didn’t have the vocabulary to do it justice.

I had started taking pictures at the shows with my Kodak point-and-shoot. When writing became more effort than it was worth, I started feeling sadly under qualified to be a critic. But with photography, well, I felt like I was getting somewhere. A coworker saw
my photos and talked me into getting a real camera, a Canon EOS 10D. I shot a couple more rock shows, and it became obvious that it was what my soul needed. I acquired more technical skills and I found myself getting images that I was proud of and that the musicians were thrilled with. I gave up the writing, again, and threw myself headlong into photography.

A couple years later, my wife, who has her MBA, (blogger's note: she has two Masters!)suggested we turn photography into a side business. She had the smarts and I had some talent. We suspected that we were the double threat. It’s been quite the experience, but I’d say that overall we’re having fun. We live in a pretty conservative area, but even here we’re finding people who are looking for something new, creative, and edgy.

Q~ Where do you get your inspiration?

A~ It finds me. Of course, luck favors the prepared. It’s there when I venture out at dawn or dusk. It’s there when I study a person or family in the studio. It’s there when I’m looking for fine art. Or when I’m looking for bugs to shoot with the macro lens.

Q~ What is one thing you love about your business?

A~ I love exploring who people are, to catch that special something that only they have.

Q~ What is one thing you loathe?

A~ Trying to collect money.

Q~ What is your dream about your art?

A~ I crave external validation. I’d like to achieve a PPA (Professional Photographers of America) degree, and that requires achievements in their print competitions.

Q~ What is your mission?

A~ My mission is to let that inner need have a voice. Whether that’s walking around in the snow capturing the sunrise through the trees, or taking a portrait that captures someone’s soul, I’m always looking for a unique angle. That’s why I named our business “A Fresh Perspective Photography”.

Q~ Where are you based?

A~ I live in a small town called Kenyon in Southeastern Minnesota, about half way between the Twin Cities of Minneapolis/St. Paul, and Rochester, the home of the WFMC (world-famous Mayo Clinic). It gets really cold here in the winter. We haven’t been above freezing for a couple months. It was -8 when I took my kids to daycare this morning.

Q~ Where would you live if you could live anywhere?

A~ I’m not a big fan of winter. I lived in Miami for a couple years. Hot and humid every day is fine with me. I think we’ll find our way to Austin, TX before too long. Austin has a hip, young population and a great music scene. I can see us there.

Q~ What would you be doing if not this?

A~ Photography is not my day job. I’m a software engineer. While I fantasize about being a full-time creative, I’m not sure it’s realistic, and it would be hard to leave behind the benefits of my career. I would like to mold the photography business, though. I have a ton of fun shooting high school seniors, and it’s hard to imagine
anything greater than spending the day with a couple about to be married.

Q~ What is next?

A~ After the slow winter season, I look forward to more weddings and high school seniors, meeting more new friends and getting more people excited to have really good images that will be cherished for untold years.

For more photos, please check out A Fresh Perspective's website. Some of the are just breathtaking.

It is always good to get caught up on old friends, no?

I am just so happy for Zak and Andrea, good, old friends. Such good friends, I was in their 2004 wedding! I miss the heck out of them, living in Minnesota, but I love doing what I am doing now, checking out their photos and listening to their wedding CD. Actually, double wedding CD, that Zak created himself!

So, learn about my old friend and also get nostalgic about your own past. What else do you have to do in the winter? ;) ~Jen

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