We had the good fortune of connecting with Jason Zullo and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jason, what role has risk played in your life or career?
As an individual, I’ve always been a risk taker and a thrill seeker but my family upbringing attempted to steer me towards a safer path. After my first year of college I dropped out to move west and pursue a professional snowboarding career. When this path didn’t work out I went back to college and discovered I had a passion for both photography and green building design. I ended up choosing to become a green building consultant because that was the safer path. Years later, I finally had the realization that I was truly an artist/photographer and not a desk jockey. It was at that point that I faced risk head on. I decided to quit my job with no real plan other than traveling SE Asia and taking photos. This was the scariest thing I had ever done in my life but it was a risk that I felt compelled to take. It was a literal cliff jumping, last minute flight catching, friend making, health straining, and life changing experience. During the two years I was traveling I took over 25,000 photos, created my photography website, and filled it with my best content. During the last eight (8) months of my travels, I lived in Vietnam and just as I was running out of money, I landed a contract with the Vietnamese Tourism Board. The work that I ended up creating solidified me as a travel and landscape photographer. I guess my philosophy is; I believe there are always risks worth taking but that doesn’t mean that you should take every risk.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My art came from the necessity to express myself after I realized I was stuck in an unhealthy relationship. Although it took some time, I left the relationship but continued to make photographs. Through the exploration of serene landscapes at natures most intimate moments, I found that capturing the beauty helped me to heal the pain within. Simply having the ability to express myself proved to be a great release. With time, I have refined my landscape and travel photography to convey the emotions and energy of the place. I believe that is what sets me apart from the millions of other landscape photographers out there taking the same photo of the same location.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
My favorite spots are not found in the city. They exist where the road ends, the map ends, and there’s no desired instagram image that you’re after. Go explore! Even when there’s no monumental landscape to be had, there’s always a way to capture the essence of that place, you just have to look at things a little differently. Start with a drive out into the Sierra’s and find your way to a nice trail with a hot spring at the end. Find something that interest you on Google earth and go see if it’s as good or better than you imagined it. That’s my idea of a great trip! Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
There are so many people who contributed to my success as a person and photographer but none more than my grandmother. She’s always been such an incredibly supportive person for whatever it is that I’m doing but she absolutely loves my photography. There’s something so wonderful about her words. They always light up my day. Secondly, I owe a bit of gratitude to Bryan Derballa for being the best harsh critic of a friend. Hearing his critique and thoughtful insight into the photography world has really helped me find my own path. Also to Bryan Liscinsky for pushing me to volunteer for the Palm Springs Photo Festival. Experiencing this conference changed me and how I look at my work. I immediately revamped all my work and my website after attending this deeply motivating conference. Lastly, to Christina Force for the incredible inspiration and clarity. Christina is professional photography coach who I met at the Palm Springs Photo Festival and was fortunate enough to work through her 8 day bootcamp. It really made me think about all the things I had been missing in my work.
All photos were taken by me and all copyrights to these images are owned by me.