Zach Anderson: The Natural

Updated: Jan 21, 2019

Photo by: Zach M Anderson

Art by: Harper Lee Fischer

Let’s say you’re on stage at Mohawk Place anxiously waiting to perform or you’re at the back of Nietzsche’s hoping more people come to the show you’ve booked on a Thursday night. Seeing local freelance photographer Zach Anderson’s face in the crowd, you can relax because you’ve done well. Whether he’s there to hear some great music or take incredible photos, his unconditional love and support of the Buffalo music scene does not go unnoticed by musicians and fans alike.

I met Zach recently at Remedy House for a hot cup of coffee. At the start of our conversation, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that has a degree in English, and never thought of photography until he was at Ithaca College. “A lot of my friends were in bands, and I wanted to get better at photography. So it kind of worked out,” Zach explained. "Two people that I can credit for my introduction into the Buffalo music scene are Corey Bzibziak and Ingo Hutzenlaub, who at the time were in a band called Hunting for Teeth, and I would just take pictures at their shows.” He admitted to me that he has swiped most of those photos from the Internet for not meeting his current standards. "But that’s how I cultivated my skills, by going to shows through trial and error and trying to capture interesting angles of the bands.”

Inspiration for Zach comes from touring photographer Andy Deluca, who was originally in a band called All Blondes Go To Heaven, before he started his career in photography. "What I love about his work is that he is really great at capturing the energy and excitement of a rock show.” He also loves the work of Charles Peterson, who was the in-house photographer at Sub Pop Records, and Michael Haight, a photographer in the California punk scene. His inspiration doesn’t stop there; his Rolodex-like brain listed local photographers such as Shauna Presto and Greg McClure, Emily Finlan, Brett Ballachino, Sam DiMartin, and Matt Sledszewski. Zach concluded, "You should be inspired by your peers, not threatened. Take a look in your own backyard for inspiration.”

We talked for two hours about photography, scrolling through Instagram, and sharing our favorite photos. Zach pulled his camera bag from under the table, and we poked through his bag of tricks. Discussing equipment and gear with him left me speechless because of his immense knowledge of the subject. He’s truly a natural. I brought up the fact that he didn’t have a degree in photography or had even taken a class on it, but he paused and said, "Looking back on it, I kind of wish I went to school for photography just so I could have a better understanding on the technical aspects of it.” As a photographer, he has come a long way, but he doesn’t want his photography to plateau, because there’s always room for improvement. He only wants to keep learning. His advice to new photographers:

∙Experience comes from going out and shooting

∙Constantly applying what you learn from other people

∙Learn to shoot with cheap equipment

∙Treat every shoot like a science experiment

You can view Zach's work on his Facebook, Instagram, or website.