• About: Zak Bush

    Photographer Zak Bush started his career in Halifax, Canada, taking pictures of young, noteworthy surfers whenever he got the chance. It wasn't long before people began to take notice. After getting his work published in several magazines, an opportunity arose to collaborate with Saturdays Surf NYC,  so Zak made the trek from Halifax to New York. Though the transition has been hard, Zak says that the city has done wonders for his career.

    While Zak's photos showcase the athletic, intense side of surfing, they also retain a mysterious beauty, which means the photos appeal to even those that don't know (or care about) the difference between a longboard and a shortboard. We caught up with Zak on a sunny morning in NYC to shoot some pictures and find out what, exactly, took him from being out on the waves to behind the lens.
    Photos by Kimi Selfridge

    Hi Zak! Tell us a little bit about how you got into photography.

    My photography started in an unconventional way. I was surfing a lot at that point in my life when I had an accident skateboarding and broke my arm. Because I was unable to get in the water and surf for a few months, I needed something to keep me occupied, so I picked up a camera. After shooting some surf photos I began submitting to magazines. I was fortunate enough to have some photos published after only a few months of shooting. From there I was hooked and things ended up taking off pretty quickly for me.

    What magazine ended up picking up your work?

    They were published by a magazine called SBC Surf which sadly doesn't exist anymore. I had the spread for the welcome page and the spread for the clothing page. At that point I had a few photos published in Eastern Surf Magazine, too.

    What subjects of yours have been the most interesting to shoot?

    It really depends. Now that I live in New York there’s such a diverse group of people around me, with so many different backgrounds and stories. I try to take a different perspective on things here than people would normally see. I wouldn’t say that I have a favorite subject, but what I really get excited about is going to a new place and seeing it with fresh eyes. That's when I seem to take my best photos.

    Do you direct your photographs at all or do you just shoot in the moment?

    It really depends. I try not to direct things too much; when shooting, I mostly react to things that are happening around me. That being said, with commercial work, when you need to produce a certain number of photos in a limited amount of time, I usually have to direct people a bit.

    Is there any particular place or person you’ve been dying to shoot?

    Well, I just got up to a small town in northern California this morning. I’ve been waiting to come up here for a long time. I’m going out to shoot a bit this afternoon and as I mentioned before, I always get excited to be in a new place.

    What would you like people to take away from your work?

    Usually, I like to have some mystery in my photos. And I want people to want to be there, whether it’s a freezing cold landscape or a photo of a tropical beach.

    Are there any young up-and-coming surfers that you’re super excited about lately?

    It’s hard to say, because there are so many good kids coming up these days. It will be interesting to see what surfing is like in a decade or so.

    You moved from Canada to NYC. Was that a hard adjustment for you?

    Yeah, the move from Canada to NYC was a drastic change. I was living in a cabin on the ocean in Canada and then transported myself to the middle of Manhattan. It was, however, a wanted change and I was given a great opportunity at Saturdays to have an easy transition into NYC.

    Can you tell us a little bit about Saturdays?

    Saturdays is a Menswear brand based in NYC. I'm their photo manager and do a lot of work on a magazine that they produce.

    What are the cultural differences like between the two places?

    New York is crazy. It's the city never sleeps, and there’s always events, concerts, parties to go to. It’s hard to fit everything into one day. Halifax is a much more relaxed place and the pace of life is slower. You spend much more time outdoors surfing, fishing, and hiking. I have a great community of friends in both places and I miss Canada a lot, however, NYC is so fun and productive, it’s hard to think about being anywhere else.

    Who are some of your favorite photographers?

    Irving Penn, Josef Hoflehner, Elliot Erwitt, Bruce Davidson, John Witzig, George Greenhough, Jeremy Koreski, Nick Lavecchia, Paul Nicklen, and Renato D’Agostin are a few, but there’s really too many to name.

    Can you tell us five things you’ve been into lately?

    Mind of a Chef with Anthony Bourdain (that's kinda lame). I also love this podcast called EIS (Everything Is Stories). Lately, I’ve been listening to the Dr. Dre 2001 album for some reason. And DIIV is rad, Future Islands too. Tiny Empire is this juice spot in Williamsburg - they have a mediterranean kale salad that is next level. I haven’t seen Boyhood yet but I’m looking forward to it; the concept of making a film over that much time is pretty crazy.

    Zak's favorite shots:

    Zak Bush