film photography Zac Mosher processes his black and white images at The Image Flow
14-year-old film photographer Zac Mosher processes his black and white images at The Image Flow. Photo © Constance Chu.

Growing Up In the Digital Age, Zac Mosher Loves to Shoot Film

Film was already a relic of the past by the time 14-year-old Zac Mosher was born, but discovering his mother’s old film camera is what really drew him into photography.

Zac Mosher, a 14-year-old student at Mill Valley Middle School, has been spending several hours per week in the darkroom at The Image Flow for the past six months processing and printing his black and white images.

“I actually started shooting film after I started with digital, but I wasn’t super into photography at the time,” he says. Later, he discovered his mom’s old cameras while going through a storage unit with his parents. “I thought they were really cool. So I got the cameras and went out and got some film. That’s what really sparked my interest.”

Zac first picked up his first point and shoot camera when he was seven or eight. “My dad is a photographer. He always had cameras around, and I was always wanting to grab his cameras and take pictures,” Zac says. Skateboarding was one of his favorite subjects to shoot from the beginning.

When he was 11, he got a DSLR and a couple of lenses. His dad taught him how to use the manual exposure settings, about aperture, ISO, shutter speed, and white balance. From time to time, he would go out on shooting excursions with his dad and two brothers—Zac is the middle of the three. He says his “ah hah” moment, when it all came together and started to make sense, happened on one of these outings.

Zac got his first DSLR when he was 11, but now he shoots film almost exclusively. Photo © Zac Mosher.

“We were taking pictures of this railroad and for the first time I figured out my exposure myself. I didn’t have to ask my dad what exposure he was at. I just looked at the screen. Finally I figured it out on my own,” Zac says.

Zac says his school doesn’t have a formal photography program or any kind of a darkroom, and he’d never taken a film photography class at school or anywhere else before coming to The Image Flow. But as he got older and gained more experience, Zac realized he needed more guidance than he could get on his own.

“I got some black and white film and needed to process it. Then I discovered that The Image Flow had a darkroom, so I called them and met Stuart Schwartz. He taught me all about the darkroom and about photography. He really piqued my curiosity about being in the darkroom.”

“The first time I met Zac, I was struck by his determination to learn. It was interesting because film was obsolete by the time he was born, but he’s really into the hands-on process in the darkroom,” said Stuart.

Zac is now shooting film almost exclusively. He uses The Image Flow’s darkroom a few times per week, during which Stuart helps him with the printing process. “In the printing there’s a lot to learn. There are people who have been printing for 10 years and they’re still not master printers,” Zac says. “I’ve been getting even more into the printing aspect, it’s really fun.”

Zac Mosher film photography landscape
Zac says he likes to shoot landscapes because he likes to travel and in nature. Photo © Zac Mosher.

“Zac is a great student to have because he’s so enthusiastic, and his work ethic is really something to be admired,” Stuart said.

Zac says photography will be a part of his life from here on out. In the immediate future, Zac says he’ll continue to make his prints, and perhaps enter a few competitions. He’s had a few images hung in shows at The Image Flow, and hopes to have more chances to show his work. As for his long-term plans, Zac says he’ll pursue a career in photography. “I’d like to shoot landscapes, because it’s really cool to travel and I like being in nature.”

Stuart is available for one-on-one sessions for photographers of all ages in the studio and darkroom. The Image Flow is also offering a series of great workshops this summer designed especially for young photographers.

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