More and more I come to realize that our heroes are just people. That person you look up to? They're just that... A person; a human-being. The difference between them and you? Hard freaking work. Hours, days, weeks, months and years of painstaking, back breaking work and at the end of the day, what is it all for? To leave a tiny piece of themselves behind, to make a mark in this life.
I'm at a point where I don't really want to show what else happened on the family roadtrip (but I will; eventually). I am very, very blessed and grateful to have been a part of it, but no-one really cares about that stuff right? You want the inside scoop. The secret to Zack's success? That magic potion he baths in every morning to get to his level of success? The elixir he drinks that give him his powers?
Note: It's Red Hare Brown Ale ;)
There is no trick though. That I can promise you. My reason for choosing - or rather; him allowing me - to intern for Zack was just how genuine he has always seemed online. No bullshit! Honest and open and actually an all around nice guy once you get to know him. They've shared so much with me - him, Meg and the kids. Things that maybe just a few close friends and family know. Who am I? A nobody from South Africa; but to them? I am part of their journey as much as they are part of mine. I've seen them on good days and bad days. I've seen Zack work and on holiday; relaxing and at home with family. I've been with him to Vegas to do a shoot, in studio and on location. I wouldn't say I've seen it all, but in the past two and a half months I've seen more than I ever could've imagined.
I've met Alton Brown, Vincent Laforet (and attended his workshop), John Keatley (we had BBQ with him and his family), Sara Lando (who broke my brain - thanks Sara :) More on that in another post) and some other close and dear friends of Zack's. To say that I am lucky is an understatement.
I've sat around dinner tables and listened to stories about GPP in Dubai and other travels. Chris Hurtt telling us about Gregory Heisler pulling over the car - somewhere in the desert - to explain to his assistant in detail, for 45 minutes what a tilt-shift lens does. Zack telling us about David Burnett outrunning him at age 65 with a large format camera to capture the last moment of a sunset in the desert. 15 photographers walking under an archway and only one of them "seeing" an opportunity for a photo. What I am getting at is that; our heroes also miss these things. They miss the shot, the perfect light/expression/moment. And that's okay, coz they are just people. People who know their craft, but people nonetheless :)
Some of Zack's first words to me whilst talking to me on their back deck, were: "I'm just a regular guy, dealing with regular shit". Like changing diapers for instance. He would come home from a job and have to do that? That's not what it's like being a pro photographer right? But that's exactly what it's like. Beyond all the shoots and editing and teaching, he's just a dude who has to take care of his family and pay the bills and clean poop and take the dog for a walk. (Meg, I am not leaving you out of this. I know you do just as much - if not more - and deserve just as much praise. You are f**ing badass!)
This dude has been - and still is - busting his ass. He's at it every day. I see the process. Some days are easier than others, more laid back, fun, but then there are the days when it's time to get our hands in the dirt and break our nails and get dirt under our skin.
There are no hidden agendas. The Arias family have taken me in as one of their own and for that I am forever grateful. I never thought I would feel this welcome. These are some of the kindest and most giving people I have ever met in my life and I hope they come to South Africa so I can in some small way repay them for this. Note: Zack & Meg.. That is a massive hint for you to get your asses to SA ;)
Yes; I came here to learn, but beyond the photography and the gear and the dreams of being a working professional photographer, if being kinder is the only thing I learn from this trip then I am a richer person for it. Give until you can't and then give some more. Be kind. Don't take shit, but give everyone that crosses your path a moment of your time. Even if it's just a friendly hello. I've been given more than just a moment and I am still dumbfounded that a letter changed my life :)
So, get out there, make mistakes, be kind, give and share and one day it will come back, but don't go looking to get it back, coz you just might miss it.
Thanks for reading