Would you mind introducing yourself? Hey there! My name is Zach Hagen. I’m 22 years old, from the small town of Janesville, MN, and I currently live in New York City.
Zach’s Instagram - @zach_hagen
How would you describe your style of photography? I’m not sure I really have a defined “style” yet, but I suppose that most of my work would fall into two categories – street photography or landscape photography. In general, I’ve found that I have a tendency to focus on isolated subjects, ironic or stereotypical scenes, and/or some defining characteristic of a moment that allows me to relive that memory.
When did you first fall in love with taking photos? Cameras were a huge part of my childhood. In fact, there’s a video of me at 3 years old, forcing my parents to pose for a non-existent camera mounted to a tripod I dubbed “the smile thing.” Basically, from that point onward, I was constantly taking photos of my family’s travels, making videos with friends, and eventually, I came to see photography as both a potential career-path and as an incredibly fulfilling personal pursuit.
Do you have a favourite photography related memory, whether it be in front or behind the camera? I have so many incredible memories relating to photography that it feels impossible to choose one specific moment. Some of the more stand-out memories are those involving street portraits of strangers that end up leading to long conversations afterward. I’ll never forget those.
Who inspires your photography? Right now, my inspiration to shoot comes largely from my late-grandfathers, Budd Hagen, and Jerry Froehlich. Budd travelled the country working as a professional photographer for a competitive skiing publication and as an avid nature photographer, capturing landscapes and wildlife scenes wherever he went. Jerry served the U.S. Army in Europe in the early 1960s. During his deployment, he journaled street-style snapshots of his travels. In recent years, I’ve uncovered thousands of slides, negatives, and prints between the two of them. I’m currently in the process of scanning these and have found that even the most mundane-seeming photograph has so much value to me. This has really inspired me to find value in the day-to-day scenes of my own life.
What kind of camera do you use? What's your editing process like? I use a variety of cameras for different reasons. For professional work, I use a Canon 5D Mark IV and Sony a6500. For personal work, I’ve spent the past 8 months shooting 400 & 200 iso colour film on a Canon AE-1 with a 50mm f/1.8 lens, or Pentax KM with a 28-80mm f/3.5 lens. I get the negatives developed at a lab, scan them myself on a CanoScan 9000F Mark II, and do colour/exposure corrections in Lightroom with the occasional photoshop edit for especially dirty scans.
Are there any tips you would like to give to anyone out there who would love to create similar style photos to yours? Don’t box yourself into this idea of developing a “style” too early. Look at the things that you know inspire you and try to figure out why they inspire you; then look for that inspiration in unexpected places. More than anything, just shoot the things that make you feel something real.
Who are some of your favourite photographers? One of my favourite photographers is my good friend Joshua Skirtich. He’s an industrial designer with an eye that can make anything look beautiful. On Instagram, I’ve been really inspired by @catbyrnes, @alexandercoggin, @hosannairene, and @ryanmcswain. Check them out and give them your love!
What would be your number one dream destination for a photography adventure? This may seem strange, but I really want to spend 1-3 months on a boat capturing the day-to-day life of the crew. Preferably a fishing boat or charter ship in the Northern-Pacific or Great Lakes region. If you’re reading this, and you own a boat, consider this my job application!
Which time of year is your favourite for taking photographs? A year ago, I definitely would have said autumn, but my recent photo-a-day project has proven to me that every day is a perfect day to take a photo.
The coolest place you've ever been? I’m torn between Iceland and Cuba. Both are countries whose relative isolation from the rest of the world seems to have created a unique culture that is instantly recognizable in photographs of these places. Beyond that, the people I encountered while travelling in these countries were some of the kindest, most welcoming individuals I’ve ever come across.
Do you have any upcoming photography trips/sessions that you would like to share? In my professional work, I have monthly sessions scheduled with @y7studio that are always super fun to shoot. Personally, I’m looking forward to a Christmas cruise in the Caribbean with my family, Costa Rica in February, and generally just capturing the day-to-day of another winter in NYC.
Anything extra you would like to share? I want to give a shoutout to my fiancée @lauratrahms, my parents Marc and Becky Hagen, my sister @gabberhagen, my Grandma Bev, and countless other friends and family members that have always supported and encouraged me. I wish all the best to everyone who took the time to read through this interview, and I genuinely hope that you were able to find something worthwhile in what I had to say. Lastly, I want to give a huge thank you to Russell Harness and Hippo Magazine for giving me the opportunity to share a bit of my work and story with you all. Also, remember to be nice (:
Zach’s Instagram - www.instagram.com/zach_hagen
Zach’s Website - www.hagenmediaproductions.com