OP/TECH USA Ambassador Profile: Zach Heaton

OP/TECH USA Ambassador Profile: Zach Heaton
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On his social media profile, Zach describes himself as a Professional Film Photographer. Full Time Dad. Master of Light. Resident of the Twilight Zone. Ambassador of OP/TECH, Cokin, RRS, and Delkin.

Thanks so much for making the time for this interview, Zach! I can tell by your social media posts that you are very busy with your upcoming workshops! You do some of those workshops with your dad, right? Ed Heaton?

Yeah! He was actually one of your original ambassadors at OP/TECH.

That's really awesome! Can you tell me a little about yourself and what type of photography you do?

I'm located in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania- home of the Amish. I mainly do landscape photography. I shoot on film. I don't really shoot in digital any more. I would say I'm about 99.8% film. I just like it a lot more than digital.

Does your dad, Ed Heaton, shoot in film too or does he shoot in digital?

He shoots all digital. He started out film back in the day, but as soon as digital came along, he jumped into shooting that. I started with digital photography. I started shooting 35 mm and I don't really know when, but I started shooting large format and fell in love with it. My dark room is actually right here! I get to spend all the time in the field and then come back here to process images. You are literally bringing your photography to life. It's pretty cool.

That's so neat! I shoot digital, but I'd love to start trying to shoot film as well!

So how did you actually get into photography yourself?

With my dad. He was running workshops. I mean like ever since I was really young, I remember them running out to go photograph, saying, "We gotta go!" and me saying, "Yeah whatever, I'll see you later!" I never really had an interest in it but then slowly, I got into it and then it consumed my life. I mean there are worse things out there ! I jumped into doing workshops with him. At the time, I was working full time but then I went full time into photography. Kinda just stuck with it- it's fun.

Amazing! Yeah, I just saw on Facebook that your dad recently got commissioned to work with REI. They used one of his images to display in one of their new stores. How cool is that?! It looks incredible!

Do you do some commissioned work like that too as a full time photographer?

Mostly just teaching photography- like my workshops. We run them all over the United States. Most of it's out West and down South. Other than that, I don't sell prints. Every once and awhile, I'll have a sponsor buy an image from me. Cokin bought an image from me a year before last. They hung it at PBN in New York. That was pretty cool. But yeah, mostly just working with workshop clients.

Super cool! I see that you have a strong following on Instagram, almost 50,000 followers!

It's funny how that came along! When I had workshops, it just started growing in the blink of an eye. I was thinking, "Wow, why do all these people want to follow me?" haha.

Well your photography is really good and it's great to have that community on there!

What would you say has been your biggest photography accomplishment so far? That's a big question, I know!

I think learning film and learning chemistry- stuff like that. There was a lot of work to it. It wasn't just pick up a camera and go. I watched videos and read all the books I could find. I followed all the masters. I would say, to me, that was one of my biggest accomplishments.

Other things too like shooting with Kodak. I was shooting film and that was it! Getting in with those guys was just awesome. Going professional just changes things.

What kind of of work did you do with Kodak?

Mostly landscape stuff. I had some calendars they did for me. They put me in a few books. Nothing crazy. I could just say, "Hey I'm with Kodak as a partner." They send you film and you shoot. The calendar I have is huge and is hanging on my ceiling. It's probably about 5 feet long.

What are some of your future goals with photography?

Not necessarily any future goals right now. I took a break from shooting as much. It was almost every day photography for me. Even little things like chasing my son around the yard and stuff like that. Future goals? Hmm, maybe just getting out there and shooting more. It's only been two weeks but it feels like a couple years now! Right now, it's fall here and it's perfect.

Yes! I would love to visit the East Coast during the fall time! It looks stunning!

Yeah, like go to Maine or something!

Yeah my husband used to live in Massachusetts for a bit as a kid. We have visited there during the summer- but never in the fall time. I'm dying to go! Some day, I'll be one of the leaf peepers there haha.

It's okay, there are plenty of others (leaf peepers) around!

As a photographer, how spectacular that you live near such beauty! Tell us about your upcoming workshop!

It's at Ricketts Glen State Park. It's water fall after water fall. It's all the way down this huge trail. We teach people about long exposure photography and what filters to use in certain situations. We have a nice group coming.

*Please note, this particular workshop Zach was hosting already took place but he will have other ones soon and we will share about them on social media as well! Keep an eye out!*

Do you teach film to attendees while your dad teaches digital?

No, not really. It's all digital people. Normally, for workshops, I take my digital camera. It's like that very small percentage of time that I shoot in digital. It's a great teaching tool. It's instant learning. If I'm going to teach you to take a picture, I'm going to want you to see any mistakes right away. I actually have yet to have any film students. I have had people come to workshops that shoot film, but they are learning at the workshop on digitals.

We'd love to help announce your workshops! They sound great!

Thank you! That would be great!

What advice would you give someone starting out in photography?

Learn. Learn everything you can. Knowledge is out there. In all honesty, you don't even have to pay for it. YouTube- everything is out on YouTube. Any kind of chemical I mess with, you can YouTube it and find it. People are always asking me for information and I say, "Here are some links." Go on YouTube and learn. Read everything you can. It's out there.

I totally agree! Learning really is at your fingertips! I think putting that knowledge into practice can be nerve-racking- especially when I'm working with clients as a portrait photographer. That is how I really grow though! Forcing myself to get out of my comfort zone. It's always worth it!

Yeah, I get anxiety before workshops- it's like through the roof! Once I start doing it though (teaching the workshop), I'm fine!

So I know your dad has been an ambassador for OP/TECH USA for awhile. When did you join the OP/TECH ambassador family?

OP/TECH reached out to me quite a few years ago, asking if I wanted to join the team. I thought, "Why not?" All my dad's straps were always on my camera. I know they work so why not use what you know you can trust?

Right?! So glad you are a part of our family!

Do you know how your dad joined the OP/TECH family?

My dad tells me this story all the time. He was at a convention in New York and y'all were there. I think my dad was looking for a new strap and there was someone there who basically went whoosh, grabbed him with it, and put one on his camera haha!

That's so funny! I've seen some of the custom straps that your dad has that says, "Ed Heaton Photography."

Yeah! He gives them out to clients. We were also giving away some of the Rainsleeves for awhile. The clients love it and it's free promotion!

That's great! You mentioned earlier that you know that you can trust OP/TECH USA straps. Why else should someone use OP/TECH USA products?

I mean why not? I stand by OP/TECH products 100%. They are stellar. I'm not just saying that because I'm here talking to you. I literally love the products. It's on most of my cameras, if not all. If it has a connection spot, it has an OP/TECH strap on it! The Soft Wraps are one of my favorite products. I love them. They are protective for my lenses and I can use them out in the field. I was always laying stuff around. I can use them as little tables. I love your gear. I don't want to use stuff that is junk. Clients are watching what I'm using, looking at the gear I'm carrying. I don't ever want to promote something that is not going to work well for them.

Wow! That's so wonderful to hear! We are so happy to hear what you have to say about OP/TECH USA! We are especially interested in the beautiful work that you produce as a photographer. You are a real artist! Thank you so much for partnering with us, Zach! We super appreciate you and your ambassadorship! I can't wait to share this interview!

Enjoy some more phenomenal work by Zach Heaton below! Also, use the links to connect with Zach on social media and on his website!