Zach Hyman is a United States born multimedia artist primarily working in photography. He was born outside of San Francisco and moved all over the United States as a child; from California, to Texas, to Pennsylvania. He studied acting, movement, and performance for two years at North Carolina School of the Arts and then left to pursue photography as an art and career in 2007. He shares his existence and exploration with his partner and wife, Mariana, his daughter, as well as his two fur children Falafel and Tahini.- He is currently living and working between Brooklyn and the Catskills, in New York.
Artrepreneur: How does your choice of subject matter reflect your personal interests and artistic vision?
Zach Hyman: Most of the work I’ve created over the past eight years has been a combination of natural elements ie; flowers or the nude human form combined with color and subject specific lighting abstracted in camera in real time. My most recent work is a continuation of this interplay, but focuses less on the human subject and more on the natural elements that exist around me and that I’ve grown, having lived in the Catskills in New York over the past three years. I have developed an entirely new approach to my work between 2020 and 2023 that it is a bit more present and open and incorporates a lot of process outside of the photography itself. I plan, grow, and tend a fairly large garden and greenhouse for about 6 months out of the year that I have been documenting and using some of the harvest (flowers and produce) in many stages of its life to create new images. I addition, I like to forage for interesting looking flowers and fungus to be photographed. Gardening has become a necessary and meaningful part of my life and process within my artwork. The distortion of the natural elements is my way of releasing them from their final form as I believe they are so much more than that. As has always been my intention, the abstractions I create are meant for us to reconsider our perception of our shared reality and identities. To leave the space for the unknown and to view our preconceptions in a broader context. My interest in meditation and objection to hyper-individualism is another larger existential interest of mine that, I feel, is within the action of me creating my work, and gardening as well.
ATP: How do you find inspiration and maintain creativity in a world saturated with images?
ZH: I think a world saturated with images is actually a great motivation to create work that can stand outside of it. I like looking at images of all sorts, I also like taking images that are maybe more standard, and enjoy finding the abstract in nature and my surroundings. I have some images that are maybe less abstract visually but create the same feeling that I’m trying to portray in my abstract work. That’s something I would like to explore some more…especially macro work in the forrest and garden, which I find fascinating and very enjoyable.
ATP: How can you use photography to challenge the viewer’s preconceived notions and broaden their perspective?
ZH: I think that is the aim of my work in general. By employing the techniques that I use I’m able to distort and abstract commonplace, albeit beautiful, subject matter and turn it into something entirely different. Sometimes the beautiful can turn ugly, the straight curved, the object sits in front of me in two different ways and I can replicate both…it’s the choice to look at something from an entirely different viewpoint. People will often see my work and think it’s digital art or manipulated digitally somehow but it isn’t. I also like to leave remnants of the surfaces that I use to distort my subjects, like scratches, dust, fingerprints reflections of set items like lights or clamps. Sometimes they are intentionally created as well for composition. I feel that it lends to the idea of rejection of perfection and being okay with failure or not knowing. It also gives the viewer another chance to believe something that is born out of the preconception that this artwork needs to be pristine or the final print is damaged or I forgot to retouch my image (which I don’t do very much of).
ATP: Is there a boundary between documenting reality and creating art through photography?
ZH: I used to feel that was the case, but as I’ve mentioned: during a bit of a hiatus from my work in 2020 and 2021 I’ve come to realize that anything can be considered abstract. I mean, none of this really makes sense to me when I start digging deep existentially, life that is. So most things are kind of abstract to me in reality…which I enjoy and can also be extremely terrifying. Maybe that’s why I prefer to work in a visually abstract way because my brain is at peace when able to work in this distorted visual language; for it to line up with my internal thought process.
ATP: What techniques or approaches do you use to capture unique and compelling perspectives in your photographs?
ZH: The growing and foraging of my own subject matter through nature and gardening has become something I want to engage more in my work. It feels much more connected and challenging and requires some more forethought and time to be able to grow things I’d like to include within the images. I also use many different techniques to achieve the distortions and colorful elements that play in my work; from different reflective surfaces to photographic gels, and lighting modifiers, to camera techniques such as long exposures and shutter drag to filtering textural elements to add to the prints. I like to add “mistakes” or what look like them and most of the time leave in the real ones.
To view more of Zach’s work please visit his Artrepreneur profile.