10 Questions With Caleb Zahm

Twenty-three-year-old Chicago-based photographer Caleb Zahm has turned his passion for documenting the places and people he encounters into a full-time career. Learn what makes this photographer tick below, and see more of his work at calebzahm.com.

1. Where are you based?

I’m based in Chicago, Illinois.

2. How did you get started with photography?

I got into photography in high school on accident kind of. I never really was into photography or even knew why I bought this camera, but I bought a Nikon D3000 off of eBay one day and when it came in I couldn’t put it down. Fast forward 11 years, and I do photography full time for my work.

3. How long have you been an active photographer?

I have been documenting for 11 years now. I started at the age of 13. I’d say I started taking it seriously around 17/18 years old though.

4. How would you describe your photographic style?

I’d say my style is just documenting everything going on around me. I don’t stay in one lane of photography. I do it all from cityscapes or landscapes to fashion, sports, concerts and anything between.

5. What is one of your favorite locations to shoot?

I love love love shooting all over the city of Chicago. There are so many pockets of gold everywhere here.

6. What are you working on at the moment? What’s next?

At the moment I’m back home in my hometown shooting a lot of the places where I grew up and the changes that have occurred because I’m currently not working with the pandemic at hand. It has been a great breather though and being able to just focus solely on a personal project and not all the work I’m usually doing. Hoping to be setting up a road trip this summer to see more and shoot more outside the city. I’ve been on a couple music tours around the U.S., so I’ve gotten to see a lot of the land in a quick way, but I want to slow it down and see it at my own pace and document it even better!

7. What’s in your camera bag?

My camera bag is always changing with cameras, but seven months ago I sold my Sony gear and bought my dream camera, the Canon EOS-1DX Mark II, and I don’t think I’ll be selling that for a very long time. I’m a very run ‘n gun type of person and it doesn’t have to be treated like a little baby and needs to handle any conditions I’m in. Love that camera. The 70-200mm 2.8 IS II is by far my favorite lens I’ve ever used on it, from anything like fashion, concerts or even sports. It’s a beast. The 24mm f/1.4 is my other go-to lens. I also keep my RZ67ProII (I know not digital but it’s my baby haha). I have the 50mm and 110mm. The 110mm is my favorite lens for that.

8. What software do you use for processing and managing your images?

I use Lightroom for batch processing and I’m using the 1-5 star system to sort through images. I edit color correction in Lightroom and everything else in Photoshop. Shoutout Adobe! Haha

9. What’s a tip or bit of photography advice you wish you had when starting out?

Let the passion flow. When I first started photography, I didn’t expect to make any money, and with or without the money I’d still be taking photos daily. I love it just as much but right under my family. Passion controls everything!

10. What are you doing to stay busy and creative during the pandemic?

Well, I have done a lot or organization and refiling on hard drives, which is something I’m usually terrible at, so it feels good slowing down and doing that. I’ve been watching lots of great photography videos on YouTube and going through my shelves of photo books from the past legends of photography. I’ve also been driving around without any intention and just shooting landscapes and lots of empty areas that aren’t typically empty. Considering I’m always a lot more than six feet away from people and on my own, I don’t see a problem in documenting stuff with the stay at home order going on.

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