interview / joey marshall

Isaac Zoller is the perfect follow for your Instagram feed [@isaac_zoller], his posts are the beautiful balance of about 80% hot chicks, 10% surfing and 10% lifestyle shots that make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. This Laguna Beach native has been honing his photo and video skills for over 20 years, capturing and documenting the beach generation in Southern California through the epitome of the surf industry boom till current times. What started out as 35mm and film in high school has morphed into the full digital era where visit to the dark room and processing film are more and more of an oddity. Through his passion and following his dreams, Isaac has been lucky enough to visit some of the more exotic places this Earth has to offer, and always nonchalantly with a camera around his neck. His imagery has a raw and gritty-authentic feel to it, something real and alive. It’s a natural tick that so many try to duplicate and come up short. We were lucky enough to pin Isaac just days before we sent this issue off to the printer and hours after he returned home from a two week stint in Fiji. Fresh off the plane, what follows is our quick Q & A.

What’s up Isaac, how was Tavi, looked like you guys had some dreamy conditions? Tell us about you most memorable experience while in Fiji.
The trip to Fiji was really fun, I feel lucky to have scored such good waves in January. The most memorable part was shooting photos in the water for the first few days. It was so glassy! The water visibility was crazy.

You’ve been in this photography game for quite some time, when did you first realize or think that you could make a career of it?
After I graduated college I realized that it was my passion and I was good enough at it to make a living. It has been a fun and challenging ride.

You seem to be a really well rounded photographer, from being able to take candid lifestyle and “in the moment” shots to capturing the essence of a surf turn in the lineup, and all with a raw similar feel; is this something that comes natural to you or is it something you’ve been taught and are continually fine-tuning?
I think that it has been my goal from the day I started shooting photos, to stay well rounded and try and shoot everything really well. It takes a completely different skill to shoot action compared to a portrait.

When you started your career, or really learning the craft, it was when film and the dark room were still a daily must, how has knowing the entire process and the transfer into the digital era helped or hindered your personal path?
I have always shot film. I learned how to use a 35mm Canon A1 before anything else. Slowing down the process allows for better and more creative photos, in my opinion. I use digital cameras for shooting action as well as lifestyle and portraits, but I always end up liking the film photos so much more.

If you could only shoot one last subject, dead or alive, but it was the last person you’d ever get to photograph, who would it be and why?
I would probably pick Andy Irons. His style was the best and I grew up watching him and Bruce, my favorite surfers for sure.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?
Hopefully still creating photos and books for as many people to see and be inspired by.

Any new projects you’re currently working on that you can share with us?
Planning out a photo book of work from all of my travels over the past five years or so. Each photo is taken from the perspective of the passenger of a moving vehicle, car, plane, boat, etc.

What advice would you give to someone new to the photography game, whom sees it as there calling?
I would say to find your style first and foremost, and figure out what you like shooting the most. Then just go for it and don’t look back.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Can’t remember anyone giving me any specific advice.

Your passport has quite a few stamps of approval, where has been your all-time favorite place to travel to and why?
I think New Zealand is still one of my favorite places I have visited. Its diverse landscape and culture attracts me, I want to go back as soon as possible. Then stop in Fiji on my way home, haha.

Where else is on your bucket-list?
I want to go to Western Australia. Just seems like a dream for a surfer and photographer, also South Africa.

Kinda cliché but who do you look up to in this field? What photographer(s) inspire you and why?
I really look up to Pete Taras and Nate Lawrence. They are amazing surf and portrait photographers. I can always pick their photos out of a bunch; I think that’s a very important quality in any field of photography or art.

What’s been your proudest moment in life thus far?
I have no idea… maybe beating Jeff Booth in a heat at the 2016 Brooks Street Classic.

Anyone you’d like to thank, shout-outs, declarations of love or hate?
I would like to thank my parents for creating me. And I would like to make a declaration of hate to the blackball in Newport Beach!