Interview: Zach Morton
For out latest interview we have sat down with Zach Morton; a professional adventure and landscape photographer from the Pacific North West, and more specifically the beautiful State of Washington. It's probably pretty obvious from these incredible shots that Zack is a highly talented photographer who's work has led him to work with a variety of brands and companies. During this interview Zach has spoken about his reasons for pursuing a career in photography and why "your choice of gear is not a determining factor for success in photography." Zack also discusses why his home State of Washington is his favourite location to shoot and where he plans to travel in the future. Some of Zach's most recent work featured on Rucksack Magazine's online journal in the form of a photo essay on Mt Rainier. To view more of his work visit his website at www.zachmorton001.com and make sure to follow his adventures on Instagram @zachmorton001.
Rucksack Magazine: Could you tell us a little about yourself and how you got into photography?
Zach Morton: Absolutely! I am born and raised in Washington state, 19 years old, and growing up I was never in to any kind of art whatsoever until exactly one year ago. I was vacationing in Maui, Hawaii and before dinner one night I came across a Peter Lik gallery. Traveling for a living? Are you kidding me? I fell in love with the beautiful scenes and colors he portrayed in his images, and while it's the not the artistic style I pursue today, it was enough to inspire me to buy a camera that very night. A D5300 from Amazon to be exact. There was no doubt in my mind that this was exactly what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
RM: What kind of projects have you completed?
ZM: So far I have worked with a few brands on some minor projects. Jetboil, Lems, Voss, and Original Grain are just a few of them. I am currently working with Tehaleh which is a community by Newland Communities. I live in the development and we are working on some commercial work for their use. I definitely plan on doing a lot more professional work throughout my career.
RM: What is your favourite location to shoot?
ZM: That is so hard to say, I have been to a lot of places but most of them have been without a camera in hand so I wasn’t able to slow down and enjoy the beauty around me. I love my home State of Washington because of all the beauty there is and if I was from somewhere else I would choose Washington as my favourite. With that being said, Jackson, Wyoming was absolutely stunning. The people, the weather, the lighting, the scenery, all of it was out of this world.
RM: What is favourite style of photography?
ZM: My favourite style of photography is adventure and landscape photography. I love capturing landscapes with beautiful light, and when the scene is right and I can envision an amazing photograph I will add a human to the scene to show scale as well as adventure. More recently I have been noticing the beauty of pattern while shooting my landscapes.
RM: Which images would you say have been the most significant in your career so far?
ZM: I think all the images I have on my website are the ones I consider the most important in my career so far. The process of taking a photo, seeing it show up on the back of my camera, and editing it with my style is the most satisfying feeling in the world. Seeing that finished product how I envisioned it is what I live for and it inspires me to get out more and keep creating.
RM: Social media appears to have become an important tool for professional photographers. How would you say social media contributes to your work?
ZM: I was watching Andrew Kearns vlog the other day and he was talking about how to grow your following. The video doesn’t actually cover what you think which was super refreshing to see, he talked about Instagram being a kind of accountability booster or tool for encouragement. You see, when I post a picture and get positive feedback it inspires me to go and create a better picture, when I post better pictures I end up getting more followers, which leads to more positive feedback and this cycle repeats. This cycle improves my abilities, which grows my following, which in turn advances my career by increasing my credibility with brands and the increases the number of people who buy my prints and other services.
RM: Where would you like to travel to in the future?
ZM: I want to travel everywhere! For the sake of saving time I won’t list every location and I will give you my top five places besides the entire US and Canada. Australia, Iceland, Norway, Egypt, and South Africa.
RM: What gear do you use to capture your stunning images?
ZM: Before I answer this question I just want to say that gear is not a determining factor for success in photography. Yes you do need appropriate gear to be a professional, but you don’t need all that gear to start. I use a Nikon D800 with a Nikkor 24-70 2.8 lens and B&W filters. However I'm currently in the process of selling this camera and buying a Sony A7Rii so I can record better videos and have a higher megapixel count.
RM: What apps do you use?
ZM: The two apps I use the most are Photopills and The Photographer’s Ephemeris. They are great for planning sunrises, sunsets, and astrophotography. I highly recommend downloading them.
RM: What kind of tools do you use for post processing?
ZM: I use Lightroom and Photoshop to edit pictures and Adobe Premiere for editing videos. I find these to be the best editing tools and software available, and I have tried many!
RM: How do you educate yourself to take better pictures?
ZM: To become a better photographer I study other photographers’ work, I watch Youtube videos, I go on Skillshare and Creativelive, I ask photographers that are better than me for their advice, and I strive to take photos and shoot video every single day.
RM: Among your works, which one is your favourite?
ZM: I love this question. When I woke up after spending the night at High Rock Lookout I decided to walk outside and down to the edge of the cliff we were on. I could immediately tell the light was going to be amazing and I was in for a killer sunrise. The light beamed in like something out of a dream and the best part is there are two people in the photo PERFECTLY positioned. I posted this particular image on my Instagram on the 11th of January; go check it out and see if you can spot the two people!
RM: Whose work has influenced you the most?
ZM: That is such a tough question. Chris Burkard is the obvious answer. As time has gone on I have become very inspired by the works of Ravi Vora, Dylan Furst, Hannes Becker, Rob Strok, Daniel Ernst, Eric Rubens, Allie Taylor, and so many more. Sorry, I just couldn’t pick one.
RM: What advice would you give to another photographer?
ZM: Shoot. Take. Pictures. Every. Single. Day.