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Meet Zackary Bond of Zack Shoots in Long Beach

Today we’d like to introduce you to Zackary Bond.

Zackary, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I was born in Perm, Russia so everything really started on the other side of the world. When I was four, a family from Santa Rosa, California, flew out to adopt me and they brought along a Sony Handycam to document their adventure. When they arrived at the orphanage, I instantly gravitated towards the camera. I had never seen anything like it before. I remember using it the whole trip back to California, I practically slept with it. Shortly after arriving in the states, their infatuation with adopting a child quickly ended, and things became violent and abusive. When I was six, my kindergarten teacher called Child Protective Services and I was removed from their house the same day. The cops came into my class to pick me up and I thought I was in trouble. They drove me home, handed me a garbage bag, and told me to go inside and grab anything that was mine. I grabbed the few clothes I had, a couple of HappyMeal toys, their Handycam, and I left for good.

I was relocated to a group home where I bounced from foster home to foster home but always ended up in the same spot. I began to feel like I didn’t belong anywhere. That was until my current family found me, my moms and my older brother, another foster kid about three years older than me. The same day they visited, I went home with my new family and life did a whole 180. They tossed my garbage bag of clothes from earlier that year, straight into the trash, and replaced everything I owned, plus a new camera. It was a Canon with a crazy built-in 500mm zoom lens. I remember staying up all night in our backyard, taking picture after picture of the moon. I was grateful to feel like a kid again.

The following school-year, my mom’s enrolled my brother and I into a new school that had just opened up in our district. A fancy art school that offered everything from dance to graphic design in its curriculum, They signed me up for every after-school art class and summer camp too. Glass-blowing, spray painting, welding, the list goes on. I fell in love with art and the art world. I wanted to be the next Haring or Warhol. This determination got me into the Visual-Fine-Arts program at my local high-school. At first I loved it, but I quickly became overwhelmed. Constantly doing art assignments put a damper on my creativity and I started to lose interest in creating in my free time. I couldn’t focus in class and I stopped turning in my assignments because I was either unsatisfied with them or just too far behind.

As life went on, things at home started to unravel. One day, my brother decided he was fed up so he ran away to live with his biological parents. Shortly after that, my mom’s decided to split up, giving me the choice of either staying in California or moving to Oklahoma. I decided to stay. I don’t know why but I ultimately blamed myself for the family splitting up. I started getting into fights and getting suspended from school. Shortly after that, I stopped going completely. I got myself into terrible situations trying to be someone I wasn’t. I started using anything I could to mask the pain I was feeling but I only dug myself deeper into depression. After almost overdosing, I called my mom saying I needed help. She didn’t know what to do, so she did what she could. She sent me to a rehabilitation boarding school in Utah to get help. My first night there, I stayed up all night throwing up. I remember laying on the floor, praying for another chance. When I was deemed “ready” to go back home, I cried tears of joy. I was gone for 15 months and I hadn’t gotten the chance to tell anyone where I went.

Soon as I got home, I dove straight into photography. I sold my old gear for a new camera and I started using it daily. Naturally, the more I used it, the better I got. I felt like I had gotten a second chance at life and I wanted to use it to document the beauty around me I had once taken for granted. I took my camera everywhere. Vacations, house parties, concerts, you name it. The camera was always rolling. That’s how my Instagram handle was created. I was always shooting something and if you wanted something shot right, have Zack shoot it. I started getting hired for small events and that’s when I realized I could turn my hobby into a job if I worked hard enough. I met a girl and a year later, we decided to move to Long Beach together. She had gotten accepted into CSULB and I thought LA would be the perfect place to further my career. I stacked up a few thousand dollars in a shoe-box and when it was time for school to begin, we packed my car and left to start a new life in Southern California. Fast forward two and half years later, we’re still here and thriving. A lot of things came full circle. I’ve had the chance to shoot with some of my favorite musicians and clothing brands, even people I looked up to growing up. I started doing graphic design and even created a website for myself. Moving out here really gave me the push I needed to build my brand and more importantly, find my purpose. For that, I’ll always love Long Beach.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
The road hasn’t always been smooth but nothing worth it ever comes easy. There’s a certain beauty in the struggle and I’m a firm believer that without conflict, there is no progress. Growing up in foster care, I let myself become a product of my environment, I developed trust issues, bad coping skills, and had difficulty expressing my emotions. I was so used to being guarded that I internalized a lot of problems stemming from my childhood. Fear of rejection and failure ultimately held me back. My biggest obstacle was myself and it still is. I lost my best friend, my grandma, and a lot of close friends so I carry a lot of weight on my shoulders. Sometimes I’d like to give up but I can’t. I owe it to myself and them to be better than I was yesterday. I’ve had to learn to be thankful, even when things aren’t perfect. I might not have had the best upbringing but it’s my life now and I get to choose how my story goes. Everybody’s always tryna outdo the next person but I’m just tryna outdo the old me.

Zack Shoots – what should we know? What do you do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
My business is me. I’m a jack of all trades. I’m a self-taught artist and photographer. I also provide graphic design and creative branding to the same musicians, brands, and businesses I shoot for. Unlike most photographers, who tend to only specialize in one field of photography, I take photos of everything. People tend to find their niche and stay where they feel comfortable. I, on the other hand, work best outside of my comfort zone. I’m always trying something new. Whether I’m shooting portraits or landscapes, I put the same attention to detail into every photo. My favorite part of being a photographer is being able to capture someone’s authenticity while also being my most authentic self. This allows me to creates relationships that go deeper than photos. Lately, I’ve been working alongside the brand “Funeral Party” in Los Angeles. I help with logos, graphics, and content creation. I also shoot any product, studio, or look book photography needed. This is just the beginning of what I have to offer. I create from the heart and it shows in my work. At the end of the day, I’m just a kid who picked up a camera and never put it down.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
Success to me is being able to put others in a position to win. Success has never been monetary. I know rich people leading shallow lives and poor people overflowing with riches. Success is about always doing your best. It’s about overcoming your fears and getting back up every time you fall. Taking 1 step forwards, two steps backward, and another three steps forwards. It’s about finding what you love and letting it make you a better person. I feel like success is learning something new each day. and taking advantage of your resources to help those in need. They say success isn’t counted by how high you have climbed, but by how many people you brought with you.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Personal photo by Andres Rodriguez. Everything else by Zackary Bond

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