I knew I liked Zac Wilson when I read his answers and found Cracker Barrel, Dollywood and the Dynasty Buffet all in one interview... Meet the refreshingly down to earth photographer that would consider shooting Shania Twain in a Big Lots shopping center.
You are based in East Tennessee - what is the actual population there and what is it like living there as a creative person/photographer? Is it technically considered part of the "Bible Belt"?
I live in Johnson City, which is about as "east" as it gets. The population is around 67,000. It’s weird living here as a photographer. You kind of cling to the creative people around you. The biggest attractions near me are Dollywood and the Bristol Motor Speedway. I guess this area is considered part of the Bible Belt, although I don't really hear that term too often. I think about moving sometimes, but then whenever I’m away I start missing it.
Have you ever gone to Memphis to photograph Graceland? Do you have any interest in Elvis at all?
No, but I've always wanted to. Maybe I will go this coming summer, make a road trip out of it. My knowledge of Elvis is pretty basic, but my mom is a big fan. My favorite Elvis song is “Suspicious Minds.” Dwight Yoakam's cover is better, though.
Did you go to school for photography? How did you get interested in it?
I did not go to school for photography, although I keep thinking about it. I would do it in a heartbeat if I were ten years younger. I’ve been into photography since I was a teenager. I had an Olympus film camera and the flash on it was just dangling by a wire and if you touched it, it would give you an electrical shock.
If you were assigned Shania Twain for playboy magazine (as a subject for which to shoot a portrait) what would you do to make it interesting? Any visuals come to mind? (lol)
I would be so nervous if I were given the assignment to photograph Shania Twain. But I would want to make sure she was having a lot of fun, so maybe I would have her in that leopard print onesie thing (cause Playboy has clothes now, right?) and have her go down a water slide over and over. Or maybe photograph her in one of those display ball pits in a Big Lots.
You take a lot of portraits, and mostly of women. Tell me about some of the most important women in your life.Who are the women featured in your series, From TN with Love?
The women in From TN with Love are my aunts. They all complain about having their picture taken, but I think they secretly like it, or at least two of the three do. They're good sports, even if they don't fully understand what the intent is. I recently ate dinner at Cracker Barrel with one of my aunts and her friend, and started showing the pictures to them. They were laughing hysterically, and then the friend looked at one photo and said "Oh, Linda...your neck." They were solely judging the pictures based on how good (or bad) she looked. Aunt Linda is the best. She really gives it her all, and I love her.
Your series Do Ya Love Me, Harley? is so lovely ....so sweet and mysterious. Where was the woman in the red dress going with her floral wristlet?
Thank you. The girl in the red dress is my friend Kerri. She was on her way to dinner at the Dynasty Buffet. That was last December, and I remember it was really cold that night.I also would like to say that the title of this series comes from a (one sided) conversation I overheard at Food Lion 15 years ago. This woman was on her cell phone, and she said "Do ya love me Harley? Ya don't? Well I love you." I think that is my favorite quote of all time.
Do you drive? What kind of car do you drive? What kind of car do you wish you drove?
I do drive! I have a white 2015 Subaru Forester. I like to drive around listening to Eminem and then turn the volume down to a reasonable level when I pull into my kid's daycare. As for what car I wish I drove, I've always wanted a Geo Metro, seriously. Someone got so pissed off at me once for saying that.
This Month scientific rational concluded that we ban glitter - how do you feel about this? Have you ever been glitter bombed?
This is a very tough question! I have never really thought about glitter much. I guess I would be sad if glitter were banned because preschool artwork just wouldn't be the same. No I've never been glitter bombed, but that sounds awful.
If you could personally ban a single product or song or person from the world.......
This one is really hard, too. I'm not a big fan of Ed Sheerhan, so maybe I would ban his music. I feel bad saying that, I hope he doesn't read this!
What is next - what is your game plan in navigating the field of photography?
I would love to turn photography into a full time career. I think that's my long term plan. I have to figure out how to do that in my area without resorting to wedding photography, although I did shoot a wedding in Gatlinburg last year and it was a very interesting experience.
Images courtesy of ZAC WILSON
interview ASHLEY MUNNS
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