We had the pleasure of catching-up with Zak Shelhamer - super talented adventure filmmaker & photographer from San Fran, California.
Do you want to just tell us a bit about your background and your journey thus far?
“Like most things in life, it all started with a passion. To be honest, it took many years of the passion before I had the vision that it was actually possible to travel the world and do what I love. My father had a passion for shooting photos and the arts so I was fortunate to have had a darkroom growing up where we would develop film from all the little mini adventures we would go on. He ended up getting me my first film camera in around 1998 and I converted to digital in 2005 when I started selling my action sports images to clients like ESPN. It took a long time and a lot of hard work but after living in a Van for a few years, I upgraded to a sailboat and that is where I was living when I met the love of my life. She has definitely helped me get where I am today and inspires me every single day.”
How long have you been a photographer, and where do you get your inspiration?
“My passion for photography turned into a career in the summer of 2008 but I’ve actually transitioned to directing films but I will still pick up a few photography projects a year and I try to shoot photos everyday just to keep the passion and roots alive. For inspiration, I think I’m very blessed to be with the most inspiring person I’ve ever met, my wife Whitney and live in such a beautiful place like California.”
You have been featured in some pretty amazing publications - Huffington Post, Forbes, Esquire just to name a few - with some hugely flattering things being said about your work, was there a point where it felt like this happened all at once or was it a gradual build-up over time?
“To be completely honest, I was shocked when Forbes contacted me with some questions about my photography. I knew of Forbes but I guess I was so busy running around shooting stuff that I didn’t really realize that I was being recognized on that level. So looking back, I think it happened over time but I am still blown away when I think it. But, like with all recognition it comes with an extreme amount of pressure. The more eyes that are on your work the more you need to be sure what you’re putting out is the best and that can be really hard, especially in a time like now where you’re not being judges on a regional scale but a global scale.”
What equipment do you shoot with and what are your travel essentials?
“I really think the best camera is the one that you have with you at the time but, whether that is a DSLR or an iPhone. But for my travel kit, I try to bring my Canon 7D (yeah I need to upgrade), GoPro Hero 4 Black and iPhone. For lenses, I really enjoy the 70-200mm, 60mm prime and 17-55mm.”
What have been some of your favourite locations to shoot, and what made them so incredible?
“It is really hard to say my absolute favorite because each place is so unique and I love them for what they are but I really enjoy cruising around Banff Nat Park in Canada, that place has the most beautiful lakes and mountain I’ve ever seen. I like Hawaii because of the water and if you want to get lost you still can. Greenland and Iceland have a special place in my heart for the vastness. Switzerland has beautiful little mountain towns that are intriguing. Oregon has a wild feel to it that I love. India has AMAZING food and people. New Zealand has incredible mountains, waterfalls, waves…haha I love this earth!”
What's top of your travel bucket list, and why?
“This might sound shocking in midst of an adventure hungry generation, but after traveling the world, I’ve really found that even though there are some amazing places out there and unique experiences to be had nothing beats being at home with people that truly love you and care about you. For me that is my wife, and I’d rather be at home with her then anywhere in the world alone. So with her I think we would like to do a road trip in our camper van with our dogs, to the desert. Southern Utah has some amazing terrain that I’d love to experience with her some day.”