We had the good fortune of connecting with Zac Westbrook and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Zac, why did you pursue a creative career?
I pursed an artistic career without knowing it. As I was facing my depression I began to recognize it in others. The intention behind my work is to explore underlying emotions and internal struggles through the lens of photography. Only a few of my subjects are aware of why I photograph them. The reason is because I can see their pain and internal struggles. It’s encouraging as well as therapeutic for me to feel as well as capture their will to survive. For me to capture their essence as well as their mask. My desire is for my subjects to feel seen.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Every photograph that I make begins with a conversation. Often it’s spoken, but sometimes it’s a nonverbal exchange. A softening of the brow. A lowering of the shoulders. I like to create a space for people to show up as they are. We all wear masks while moving through the world as a means for survival. I enjoy capturing the many masks, but my intention is to create an environment that gives my subject the courage to take that mask off. To breath slow and deeply. To be; without fear of retribution.
The hardest part of this journey has been finding alignment. Initially I thought that I wanted to make “dope” work so I copied other photographers styles that I thought were dope, but something was always missing. Something was off. I didn’t feel aligned with what I was creating. It didn’t feel like me. Now, with every portraitI I make I can feel myself getting closer to the feeling that exists within. The feeling that brings me joy, excitement, and the motivation to continue down this path. I do not have the words to accurately describe this feeling, but when I recognize it I press the shutter.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I’m humbled and extremely grateful to all of my subjects and muses. Through the sharing of space, stories, and energy I have found myself with a new hunger and appreciation for life. Over the course of this journey I have allowed myself to die and be reborn many time over. I’ve found God in the eyes and hearts of many women and men. They have allowed me to recognize the God in me. God is all there is. Shoutout to God!
Brandon “ruffdraft” Ruffin (PCheadshot)