Zach Anderson Tells Stories of Identity Through His Photography
The Millennial zeitgeist is ever shifting, though there is one thread that weaves its way through the fabric of the cohort; acceptance and admiration of uniqueness. Amplified even more by Gen Z, it’s hard to ignore the pursuit of a sense of self among this group.
Zach Anderson strives to share his experience and perspective in his photography, including his friends as subjects. His coming of age has shaped his visual aesthetic and can be seen through the attention to color, freshness, and youthful communication through his imagery. And as a Millennial, telling stories of identity through his art is a priority.
Combining his love of distinctive color to communicate emotion, music as a barometer for feeling and his celebration of the queer community, Zach’s new project highlights Drag Queens in Boise, ID. Sense of self and acceptance at the forefront of this art form, Zach aims to emphasize the talent and effort that goes into each performance.
What was the inspiration behind this project?
I have long admired Drag Queens and the thoughtfulness that it takes to perform in drag. People underestimate the time and expense that drag requires, so whenever I’m at a drag show, I look at every detail and appreciate that individual artist’s style. I have wanted to photograph these individuals for a while, so I started this project to showcase the Boise drag scene.
How would you describe the Boise drag scene?
I’ve lived in LA and New York and I have seen drag in many different forms. The Boise queer community is bigger than you might assume and rivals that of larger cities, drag shows are common at local bars and music festivals. Boise in general is home to a lot of idiosyncratic people who are not afraid to be themselves, which I think allows for a more creative drag scene.
What do you think is misunderstood about Drag Queens?
To me, it’s performance art, but I think a lot of people have the misconception that it’s just people dancing and lip-syncing. The people who do drag spend years developing their style and the unique attributes that can help market themselves. Like any other artist, they have to decide what kind of Drag Queen they want to be. While that can evolve and change over time, having a niche is important. An immense amount of dedication is needed, along with financial investment and a specific set of skills, like makeup application. All those things require a long time to cultivate and often, people don't acknowledge that.
Like a lot of your work, the lighting is really distinct, did you set up strobes?
No, this was all available light. In some of the shots it’s stage light and in others, it’s the back-of-house lighting. I don’t like to use strobes much anyways, but I felt that it aided in creating an ambiance and look of the images to use available light.
How do you see this project evolving in the future?
I want to shoot the performers in their house when they’re getting ready. It can take hours to get into drag and the moments at the show are a small piece of the puzzle. I’m hoping to get to know some of them personally so I can hear more of their stories and then get a more behind-the-scenes look into what it means to be a drag queen.