Zack Frank is a photographer and self-described “National Park enthusiast”. He has traversed much of America, using his camera to document the country’s natural glory. Frank’s portfolio includes shots of famous heritage sites like Yellowstone and Yosemite, as well as lesser-known idylls: for example, Washington’s Scablands and California’s Lava Tubes.
The latter areas, often skipped by tourists and unprotected from commercial exploitation, are the focus of Frank’s upcoming project, Undiscovered America. Frank is seeking donations “to help fund a 6-month road trip across the country to document America’s unknown natural wonders. I would be the first professional photographer to shoot almost all of these places as if there were National Parks. The vast majority of pros only photograph places you know well, because they know they can make money off them. I care about the places themselves, not the money.”
I asked Zack Frank to elaborate on his inspiration and goals. He was kind enough to answer my questions:
Was there a particular starting point to your passion for the American outdoors, and if so, what was it?
My family traveled constantly, and in fact my first three memories are of Yellowstone National Park, Devils Tower National Monument and Mount Rushmore National Memorial. I’ve always loved nature and historic sites and I spent a lot of my childhood at National Park Service sites absorbing the scenery and history first hand. It also didn’t hurt that I’m from a rural area in northwest Pennsylvania and grew up beside the Allegheny National Forest. I think if you’re raised loving the outdoors, you tend to stick with it. Once you experience the landscape and calm of nature, it’s hard to go without it.
Why is photography your medium of choice?
Simply put, I’m not very artistic. I can’t draw, paint, or sculpt. I started as a writer and was one of the editors on my high school newspaper but when I entered the Marine Corps and showed up to journalism school, they made me a photographer instead. I was devastated at first, but embraced photography after seeing it as more of a geometric puzzle than anything else. As in, ‘Where do I put the mountains in the frame to create the best visually satisfying photo’? That’s a pretty clinical answer, but I also do something that other photographers never do… I try to document every landscape as anyone visiting would see it. Most photographers only shoot at sunset so they can have the best possible lighting and mood. That’s the easy way to photograph. I take photos all day, every day when I visit somewhere, because i’m trying to document what it looks like all the time, not just at its most beautiful. Painting is all about the artists perception and some photographers work that way, but I learned to love photography because I can capture what a place actually looks like, not just what an artist dreams it looked like. My photos are honest, and I think only photography can do that.
How do you want people to react to your photographs? What should they take away from the viewing experience?
I’d love people to find out where theses places are and try and protect them. Without artists visiting and documenting places like Yellowstone or Yosemite, we might not even know about them, or worse they could have become ski-slopes and amusement parks. America is unique because we were the first country to set aside our natural wonders as federal parks, instead of playgrounds for the wealthy. These places belong to all of us, and we protect them for the generations to come. I hope that when people see my photos they wonder why they’ve never heard that these incredible places exist. Only by falling in love with these under-appreciated landscapes can we convince people to preserve them.
and his Kickstarter Project Page:
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