My Approach is Very Organic

My Approach is Very Organic

Zach Lipson is a Portland-based creative with a passion for all things visual. What started as simply "learning" to use a camera, became a passionate hobby that changed his life in ways he could never have imagined. 


I started shooting about 3 years ago. I’ve always been into art in one way or another but it took me a while to find photography. It started on a road trip with my brother (who is also a photographer) when we spotted a moose in the distance. We got close and he began shooting with his DSLR and telephoto lens, me with my iPhone. My shots were chocked full of grain, sunlight and a shadowy object, and in his you could see the whiskers on its face. I bought a DSLR the day I got home from that trip. After a few weeks of shooting around the city I was hooked. 

My photography is largely about storytelling, emotion, and irony. I naturally gravitate towards scenes of juxtaposition, where for instance an old woman is walking slowly as a young man is racing by on a bicycle. Photography allows me to tell an untold story and even create a new one by bringing together subjects and scenes that, to most, go unnoticed. To others, that intersection may seem like coincidence, but I’m always looking for that one moment that tells a story. My approach is very organic. I rarely ever set out with shots in mind. I walk out into the streets, get immersed in the people around me, turn my mind off and let my eyes do the work. Then I just capture what I see.

The thing I love most about Chicago is the combination of the people and the architecture. Such interesting people coupled with such varied, historic architecture, makes for some incredible scenes.

When you shoot street photography and street portraits you often end up in some very interesting situations, both good and bad. An example of a good one: One day while shooting downtown, I saw a group of people congregating near State and Lake. When I got closer I noticed two men getting haircuts and a table full of food and people eating. I spoke to a woman organizing it and she explained the men getting haircuts and eating were all homeless and that everything they were providing was donated/free. I was moved by it and the energy was so positive, so I stuck around for a while and took photos which I posted to my feed and gave to the organization. It’s a great feeling to be able to use my photography for a good cause like theirs.

However you create your art is up to you. Whatever methods you use to realize your vision is your choice. VSCO, Lightroom, Photoshop, filters or not...I’ll never think differently of someone’s work because of their editing technique. Personally, I use Lightroom to edit and have created a number of my own presets which have evolved over time. 

The main way Instagram has influenced me is as a source of inspiration. Almost daily I come across photos, posted by some insanely talented people, that push me to see things differently. There’s so much to explore in photography and I’m reminded of that nearly every time I open the app. Another major source of inspiration is from the previous generation of street photographers, people like Elliot Erwitt and Saul Leiter. Lastly, I’m constantly inspired by movies and TV series that have beautiful cinematography.

I’m originally from Detroit but moved to Chicago about five years ago. Full time, I’m an interface designer and co-founder of a tech startup in the financial space. Photography is mainly a hobby but I do some commercial work every so often.