Meet an Artist Fellow: Photographer, Zak Suhar

Zak Suhar is a New York City based photographer who stayed at our New York Outpost, Getaway Catskills West, with his brother, John. He captured some amazing moments at the Outpost and left inspired by his time surrounded by nature. But that’s nothing new. In fact, it’s been a theme for Zak all his life. Time spent at the cabin his grandfather built in the woods lit the spark, and today that love of nature continues to inform Zak’s approach to his photography practice.

On Nature

“I’m a New York City-based explorer and freelance photographer by way of the Midwest. My passions are creative strategy, digital media, visual storytelling, environmental justice, and sustainable living. Growing up along the shores of the Great Lakes, and frequenting the Cabin my grandpa built in the woods, instilled in me a deep appreciation for the natural world from a young age. Day-to-day I work in advertising, but at any given moment I’m looking for an excuse to escape the City and head outdoors.

“Hiking and outdoor activities are my favorite non-digital activities that allow me to disconnect and let my mind wander. I’m a big fan of microadventures like day hikes, weekending upstate, or even finding a unique park in the City. I also crave larger trips, like my favorite trip, hiking the Kalalau Trail in Kauai, Hawaii or El Camino de Santiago in Northern Spain. Next on the list is Havasu Falls. When I’m not outside getting a fresh breath of air, you can usually find me on some hardwood playing pickup basketball.

“An ideal day off for me would be jetting out into nature, finding spots that are accessible and only a few hour’s drive from Manhattan. Surprisingly, there are many public fire towers in the state of New York, so a perfect day would be climbing to the top of a fire tower, capped off by photographing a nearby waterfall. I really enjoy a good physical challenge, and capturing the movement of water through still photography allows me to further sharpen my photography practice.

On Photography

“Being a family man, I find a lot of inspiration from my relatives, friends, and other creatives in the photography world. I’m the youngest of two brothers, and as our broader family grows, I am consistently motivated to leave a positive impact on other people’s lives. I also have a deep interest in environmentalism, biomimicry, and the circular economy. Sometimes when I need an extra source of inspiration I simply go for a walk outside and observe the beautiful natural world.

On Disconnecting

“I’d be lying if this wasn’t a continued work in progress for me, but I’m trying my best. Being a photographer, you sometimes need to be connected to promote your work, find new sources of inspiration, and scout locations for trips. This year, I’m trying to be much more intentional with digital use and trying to not get sucked into endless scrolling. “Being off” for me means being reasonable, but setting stricter boundaries on what my intentions are every time I open an app on my phone. An easy forcing mechanism for this is planning trips to remote places where you can’t even connect or find a signal. That’s usually when I feel most free.

“Escaping to the peace of nature has allowed, and sometimes been a necessity, for me to find balance from the New York City bustle. Getaway is the perfect place for balancing this yin and yang. The simplicity and unique architecture of these tiny homes fully immerses you in the wilderness, allowing you to reflect and rejuvenate your energy only a few hours away from the City.

“Work-life balance is something that I value tremendously, but it can sometimes be tough when you’re a professional trying to make your mark on an industry. Growing up in the age of technology has been engrossing, as it has permeated into all aspects of life and work. Setting strict boundaries and expectations has been crucial for me to disconnect on evenings and weekends in order to remain fresh and focused. I strive to do this in two basic ways; adjusting phone notification settings and intentionally spending time outside, away from screens. At times, this can ultimately reach tipping points where you need a reset, and that’s when I find myself taking microadventure weekends outside of the City. That’s when I escape fully into nature.”

Photo by Zak Suhar at zaksuhar.com

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