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Art in Action: Interview with Jim Zuckerman

As seen in the March 2011 Issue of Main Street Magazine

Better Photo Photography

Interview with Jim Zuckerman

Jim Zuckerman is self taught. Jim is a book writer, photography teacher, photo workshop leader, and world traveller. Jim’s images are stunningly beautiful, filled with color and life. In this interview, he talks with us about he became a successful photographer.You are a successful photographer and writer, but I know that your intended career was as a doctor. What compelled you to make the switch?

Jim Zuckerman:

I fell in love with photography and had to do it. I couldn’t imagine medicine making me any happier than I was when I was taking pictures.

What sorts of steps did you take to learn photography? Classes, workshops, books?

As seen in Main Street Magazine

Jim Zuckerman:

I am entirely self-taught. I read photo magazines and then I tried all the techniques I read about, mostly in the special effects arena. This was decades before Photoshop, of course. I didn’t get seriously into nature and travel photography until I bought my first medium format camera in 1980.

When did you know you finally “made it as a professional?

Jim Zuckerman:

There was never a moment in time when I considered myself successful as a professional. The realization that I was actually making a good living in photography gradually crept up on me over the course of many years.

Do you remember your first photography sale?

Jim Zuckerman:

Yes. I sold a photo of a dog sled race taken at the top of the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. The photo sold for $25 for the cover of Palm Springs Life Magazine, and it ran in the January 1971 issue.


How did you get your first book deal?


Jim Zuckerman:

My first book deal happened by getting in through the back door, so to speak. A long time friend of mine had a contract to write a book for Writers Digest Book and didn’t have time to work on it. He asked me if I’d like to co-author it, and I said yes.

I ended up writing the entire book and then it was canned because the publisher felt the market had changed for this particular subject. The editor at WDB had never seen my work, and when he did (he met with me because he felt so bad about cancelling the book) he asked me what books I’d like to write. I gave him three ideas, and over the next 4 or 5 years I wrote all three of them for him.

All Copyrights still in reserve, Photo by Jim Zuckerman

What do you like MOST about your professional life?

Jim Zuckerman:

What I like most about my work is that photography leads me to wonderful places, beautiful sights, and enriching experiences.

For example, in February I was photographing wild macaws and poison dart frogs in Costa Rica, in March I was shooting white horses charging through the surf in France, and this month I was amidst dozens of roseate spoonbills in a small boat in Tampa Bay, Florida. In June, I’ll be in Norfolk, Virginia photographing tall ships.

I’m never bored with my work. If I spend a week shooting nature, I love to come home and work in Photoshop to make visual magic that was impossible just a few years ago. It’s all still exciting to me after all these years.

What do you like the LEAST about running your professional life?

Jim Zuckerman:

What do I like least? … hmmmm I don’t like how stock photography has changed. It feels like we photographers are getting squeezed out of the business. I don’t like photographers selling their work for one dollar or less. It cheapens our work and, in the long run, hurts everyone.

Jim Zuckerman, Copyright protected

As seen in betterphotos.com

Jim Zuckerman, Main Street Magazine


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