Here at DC Refined, we consider it our duty to show off D.C. in all its glory. And thankfully, that’s not a hard job. This city is amazing! But it never hurts to get a little help, and seeing the city through another's eyes is the best medicine.
Zack Lewkowicz has been interested in photography since he was a middle schooler capturing everything he could with a hand-me-down point and shoot camera. But when he discovered the world of DSLRs, he realized this interest could be a whole lot more than a hobby. Now, Zack is a landscape photographer who describes his style as a "mix of natural landscape photography and stylized reality." He is driven by finding new angles or compositions on a traditional shot that others may overlook.
Without further adieu, it’s time to hand over the mic to Zack. In the interview below, he offers insight into what prompted his passion for photography, his style, and plenty more.
What first inspired your interest in photography?
I was first inspired by being able to take and capture moments of friends, family, and all the travels we went on. I still draw inspiration from these things but I am much more focused in what exactly I want to capture.
When did you pick up your first camera and what was it?
My first camera was probably a hand-me-down Sony or Panasonic point and shoot sometime around middle school. I was always taking photos of a variety of things, but I didn’t start taking my photography seriously until I picked up my first DSLR camera about four years ago.
What is your camera of choice today?
I currently use a Canon 70D but I am looking to upgrade to a full frame camera in the near future. My favorite lens to shoot with is my 10-18mm wide angle because it lets me capture really unique perspectives of landscapes.
What's your favorite type of photography?
I love landscape and cityscape photography. It’s what drives me to get outside and explore the environment around me, whether it is out in a small pocket of the city or a grand vista. I like to go back to the same places and hunt for new and interesting compositions that most people would overlook. You can often find me chasing the morning light or searching for the perfect sunset depending on the day of the week.
How would you describe your photography style?
I like to think my style is a mix of natural landscape photography and stylized reality. I try to capture the natural landscape in all kinds of different lighting and varying weather conditions. I use neutral density filters to increase my exposures during the daytime to add an element of movement into a lot of my shots. I also take a lot of photos at night so I use long exposures of car trails and city lights to draw interest into my compositions.
What photo are you most proud of?
I am most proud of my photo called “Golden Tears” that I took last year. It’s a very unique shot of the National Mall that I had never seen before. When other people see the photo they always ask “Where was this taken?” or “How did you take this?” I sometimes give them a hint, but I leave it up to them to really find out. The light and conditions were just perfect so I am not even sure if the same shot could be taken again.
What is your coolest or most memorable experience while shooting?
One of my favorite aspects of photography is that I can look back on all my photos over the years and instantly be taken back to that particular moment. Last year I had an amazing experience traveling to the National Parks in Utah with my girlfriend. We went on a particular hike called the ‘False Kiva’ in Canyonlands National Park. We were the only people out on the trail in the blistering June heat. After a several mile hike we reached our destination and had this spectacular view all to ourselves. It was amazing to be totally isolated in nature in complete silence. All you could hear was the clicking of our camera shutters.
Who or what is at the top of your photography bucket list?
I really want to take photos from on top of the Lincoln Memorial. Some of my friends got a chance a couple years back and ever since I saw their photos it’s been on my bucket list. Iceland is a photo destination that has also been on the top of my bucket list for a while; I’m hoping to visit soon!
Where are your five favorite places to photograph in the DMV area?
Most of my favorite places to photograph are on the National Mall. I live nearby so I visit often and get to capture the mall in every season and every possible type of weather. In particular I like to take photos in the areas around the Tidal Basin, Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, and U.S. Capitol. Some other local favorites include The Netherlands Carillon, National Arboretum, Great Falls, Old Town Alexandria, and Arlington National Cemetery.
Advice for aspiring photographers?
Be patient and persevere. When you’re out shooting you can’t control everything so you have be patient and wait for the moment to come to you. Sometimes you may go out to get a particular photo but you end up getting nothing. You have to realize that those failures just give you the opportunity to come back to that same spot and try again another day. Then when you finally capture what you had envisioned you will feel a greater sense of accomplishment.
What's one of your hobbies outside of photography?
I usually get together with friends and play board games once or twice a week. We have collected so many different games between us that we always have something new and fun to play. I love to strategize and think several moves ahead.
What's your motto to live by?
“Just go shoot”