We are excited to announce our first Guy Crush on the Bicyclette blog! After so many amazing Girl Crushes it was only fitting to introduce a series of incredible and artistic men. We start this new chapter with the talented photographer Zach Hertzman who recently shot our summer look book that you can expect to see online very soon. Zach’s photography seems to transport you to another era, the depth and haunting beauty depicts the thoughtfulness put into every shot. It is no wonder to learn that Zach has his roots firmly planted in this world, coming from a family of photographers. His work feels vast yet intimate and particular yet candid, weaving a beautiful story of subject and source. For his intrinsic talent and gracious collaboration I am happy to introduce Zach as our first Guy Crush!
Who is Zach the artist and who is Zach the person?
I think to really take on a life in the creative world, you have to dive in head first to the point where there really is no separation between your art and yourself. I create images to fulfil my need of self expression, and I think that people who know me will see very personal aspects of myself in my work. The pictures I make are all little pieces of me, and if you were to add them all up, you’d probably know me a lot better than I know myself.
Collaboration has always been the part of photography that I enjoy the most, and it is actually the reason I started shooting in the first place. When I really dove into photography it wasn’t a solitary act, but began as a collaboration with a couple of close friends. We would all set up shoots together and work through the whole process as a group. The real magic was seeing what the others would come up with and how it all fit together. When I look for someone to collaborate with I look for someone who I can connect with not just about the concept, but on an emotional level and with a like mind. When all the pieces come together you can create something very rare and very special.
As an artist I have always believe we have this feeling or calling to create work. How did you recognize your call to photography?
My parents were both photographers growing up and actually met in the Ryerson photography program, so I guess you can say it’s in my blood. I first started playing around with my fathers old Nikon FM at a young age and was drawn to the magic and beauty of the camera. I learned to shoot all on film way before digital came around and would spend days in the darkroom developing film and making prints. I found the whole process meditative and exhilarating. There was a whole ritual to the physical process that is hard to describe. One vivid memory is that the entrance to the dark room I used had almost the same kind of light-proof revolving door that led to the space shuttle simulator at the Toronto Science Centre. I always equated going into the darkroom with going on a space adventure. I always loved the idea of that. That you can go into a room and create another place.
A wonderful quote from Ira Glass regarding the creative process, “It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions.” Do you ever feel like that as a photographer?
At this point I find it pretty wild how far I’ve come and how much work I’ve done - my ambitions are very large and I hold myself to extremely high standards. I always question my work and try to make each project I produce better in some way than the last. Sometimes I finish something and have that kind of “ahhh” moment when I know I’ve brought some new kind of beautiful thing into the world, but the next thought is always“how can I do this better the next time?” It’s important to have ambition, but equally important to always be challenging yourself and always improving. Having something unattainable you’re trying to reach is what keeps you going.
A project that is close to your heart that you have yet to create or are creating at the moment?
I currently have an overwhelming urge to escape my comfort zone a bit more. I think my next long term project will involve hopping into my car with my camera and driving off into the sunset. I’ll let you know what happens when I get back.
Your work is stunning and poetic. What is something:
You are proud of…
I’m quite proud of the fact that I’ve been able to make a living from photography for the past six years without having to take on another gig on the side or outside of the field. As romantic as the life sounds - it’s definitely not a real job in any sense of the word and there’s no real manual or guide on how to make a life doing it. They definitely don’t teach you that end of things in school and figuring it out has been interesting to say the least.
You learned from…
I’ve learned a lot from making mistakes, and trust me, I’ve made a lot of them. Each time you learn something new about yourself and emerge a little bit stronger and much more sure of yourself.
You aspire to do…
Something I really miss about the darkroom days is all the prints you would end up having. Test prints, contact sheets, mistake prints… piles and piles of prints. Even when you shoot film now you end up scanning your negatives and working on them with a computer. I really miss the tangible aspects of photography and would like to start making more prints and books of my work. A screen will never replace the feeling of holding a print in your hand.