A new photography exhibition, Revisions, at the Picture Farm Gallery in Williamsburg features work by Brooklynite Zak Bush, who moved to the big city two years ago from his home in rural Canada. It was a big change for the 28-year-old surfer-cum-artist who started his artistic career by taking photos of the ocean. His upcoming solo show, which opens Friday, will be a combination of surf and city photography, highlighting the differences and similarities of the two landscapes.
Bush chatted with the Greenpoint Gazette about the upcoming exhibition, which you can read more about below.
How and why did you start taking photos? I read something about a broken wrist…
It did involve a broken wrist. I was skateboarding in front of my house in Halifax with some friends and I fell. I’d just gotten back from living in New Zealand for eight months and I got a job at a bar so I could surf during the day and work at night. The broken wrist basically prevented me from doing both, so I had to find something to fill my time. I still wanted to spend time with friends who were always surfing, and the easiest way to keep myself occupied was with a camera. I shot my first magazine spread on a borrowed camera during that time with the cast.
How does your background as a surfer influence your nature photography?
My interest has obviously grown, but the foundation of my work stems from surf photography. That being said, I’ve never really lived in a place where surfing is a central part of life, like in Hawaii or Australia, so my perspective has always been a little different than conventional surf photographers.
When and why did you make the big move from Nova Scotia and coastal Canada to New York? How have you adjusted to living and shooting in such a dense, urban environment?
I moved from Nova Scotia to NYC two years ago to take a job working as the photographer for Saturdays NYC. It was really difficult in the beginning. There’s so much going on here, and traffic, people, the skyline, etc., play a big role in trying to make an image. The landscape here is really dense in contrast to how open it feels in Nova Scotia. That being said, the ocean can also be as active and intense as the city. By carrying over photographic techniques from one environment to the other you can find those similarities.
How has living in the city changed your photography? And do you find inspiration from Brooklyn’s landscape?
My photography has changed mostly because I’m constantly exposed to so much other great creative work. Being closer to so many creative individuals and environments has inspired me to grow and learn as a photographer. Brooklyn is interesting because it’s such a rapidly changing community right now. There are some great new things appearing in the various communities, but Brooklyn is also losing some of the character that’s defined it for decades.
What can people expect from your first solo exhibition? And how do you feel about this opportunity to showcase your work?
I’m grateful to Picture Farm Gallery for hosting this show. It’s an opportunity for me to showcase my work in a way that many people don’t get to see. My work, up until this point, has been a bit more literal. Revisions pairs images in a way that breaks free from this mold and infuses new energy into my work.
The exhibition is a combination of photos from different locales, both urban and natural. How are those environments similar to shoot despite their obvious differences?
The unpredictability of the urban landscape and the ocean can parallel each other in certain ways. I shot a number of the photos in the show with very low-shutter speeds to blur motion, and I feel that captures the similarities between two strikingly different environments.
What are some of the more inspiring spots you’ve discovered in New York while out photographing?
I really like to shoot from higher vantage points. For instance, my office is on the 26th floor, and my apartment in Williamsburg has a huge roof deck, so both lend unique and breathtaking views of their respective areas. I like to remove myself from the street and capture the city from a different vantage point.
The show starts at 6 p.m. on Friday. For more information, visit Zak Bush’s website at www.zakbush.com.