Zack Arias is something of a reluctant guru. To many of us, he seems like a wise-man-on-the-mountain type (yeah, beard and all, and I’m guessing he would hate being classified that way), who insists that he’s an average Joe like the rest of us, but who draws people who continually ask his advice. It’s his particular brand of no-whining-allowed honesty about struggle and being in the photography business that makes him so magnetic.
He started his “Q&A-Ask Me Anything About Photography” Tumblr after reportedly getting fed up with what he saw as over-hyped, clichéd material being sold to wannabe pro photographers. A particular “Top-10” style list that made it all sound too easy was the last straw. Zack Arias was tired of all of the “noise” that claimed to have answers and didn’t give any truly valuable advice. He wanted to see more “signal”; content with real value and a lot of honesty.
He soon became a kind of Dr. Phil for photographers, and he became famous across social media for being completely open about how hard his own struggles were to make it as a professional photographer, and about what it’s really like for those in the trenches of making it as creative entrepreneurs. His advice is down-to-earth, and completely real. He’s just telling the truth. But it’s rare that someone can be both that open and that in-touch.
And when he says “Ask me anything…” he means it. He answers the standard “What kind of camera–lens–lighting gear–should I buy for [insert particular photo type]” questions that people ask over and over and over again (although the short answer is almost always the same–it doesn’t really matter). But Arias ranges far beyond that, answering “Where do I take my career…” questions, “How do I survive in this business…” questions, “What do I do when I’m down and out…”, “What should I do to get this look in my photos…” and everything in between. In short, he covers just about everything you can reasonably answer about being a professional photographer.
He then compiled some of these questions into a book, recently published. And, on October 29th, 2013 he decided to wrap it up, after answering 1500 random questions. Although he won’t be fielding any more questions for the blog, the Tumblr remains as a searchable archive for the rest of us to use as an invaluable reference.
He’s moving on to other projects, though he’s been cagey about exactly what that project entails. It is clear that, regardless of the particulars, Arias will be sticking to his motto of “Less noise. More signal.” It’s been a good guiding principal so far.
Thank you, Zack Arias, for everything you’ve done for our industry. We can’t wait to see what comes next.