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Ok, but seriously folks, I really do love my job with Zack. The idea for that video came from a recent porch night with the Usedfilm crew after bringing up the request to do a blog post here. I hope you enjoyed it.

For this part of the post, I’m choosing to give you a background of how I came to work with Zack full time. Here we go…

I was born and raised in rural Oklahoma about 45 miles northeast of Tulsa where I graduated high school with a class of 54 students. That’s it. Tiny farming community by the name of Adair. I mean my neighbors were cows for crying out loud! Out of high school I went off to study graphic design at the technical branch of Oklahoma State University. After 1 1/2 semesters I quickly realized that I wasn’t any good at it, though the art history class was awesome. Failing marker rendering class isn’t hard if you can draw worth crap…

After that I went back to what I knew. My trumpet. Yep, I was your classic band dork in high school and decided it would be a good idea to study music education at a four year university. Well, after 3 years of “real college life”  it came to mind that I really didn’t want to teach some kid how to bang a drum in the middle of nowhere Oklahoma as a career. Can you blame me? During that time though, a camera was put in my hands by a friend’s mom who was a photographer. I had an interest and I had the chance to work in a darkroom once during a high school summer program. She gave me an old tank of a body too, a Canon AE-1. I LOVED that camera. Until it got a light leak and wasn’t worth getting fixed. I tried tape and everything, wasn’t happening.

So I took a year off from school and just worked and hung out like a regular person. Still taking pictures for the fun of it and always wishing I knew what I was doing when I saw a scene worth photographing. So, during that time off I enrolled in the photography program at the same school I studied design previously. It was strange to go back and see the same teachers that failed me before.

While at photo school I realized I wanted to merge my love for music and photography and shoot live music and bands. Especially after understanding that your average music mag photos were horrible! Next thing I knew it came time for my internship semester and I literally Googled “Music Photographer” when searching for somebody to work with. Zack Arias came up number three on the list. The first two were in Europe, completely out of reach for me. For two months solid I was emailing and calling with no avail. I had a faculty member helping me out even! But one day in early May, Zack is calling me to invite me out to work for the summer. That was pretty cool.

That summer of 2005 was awesome. Zack and I hit it off like old buddies and we had a blast for 3 months going to shows, quoting stupid movies that we like and going out for ribs and Newcastle. That was the best part…

After that was all said and done and I was back in Oklahoma I had one more semester of school and next thing I knew I had a fancy piece of paper that said something about an associates degree in photography…… I don’t remember really…

You know what happens when you graduate college?? You’re unemployed!!! Yeah, I worked like 6 jobs after school just trying to support my photography because there just isn’t a market out there for ‘takin’ music ‘peechurs.’ So I was forced to work junk temp jobs that I hated and provided low pay. The longest run and last one I had was working at a factory building school buses for 10 hours a day assembly line style. Yep. It was just as fun as it sounds. Why on earth would you want to leave a job where you had to walk under welding slag all day?? I mean really!!?? But one day in October of 2006 I’m driving home tired and filthy from a long day’s work and my phone rings. It’s Zack. Instantly for some reason I knew why he was calling. It was seriously no more than a ten minute conversation that ended with me saying “Give me a few months to save money and I’ll be there”.

February 7th, 2007. I arrive in Atlanta, GA with my dog Copper (he’s awesome), ready to start a new life as a full time assistant.

Since I’ve been here it’s been a wild ride. Not knowing what the next day or month will bring us. From a workshop that Zack had an idea about to a full on DVD that’s getting shipped worldwide. From local Atlanta bands to getting invited to go to Australia. It’s all thanks to Zack just being a humble guy without pretense willing to share his thoughts.

I still pinch myself sometimes…

Erik doesn’t have a website for fear that it would be subject to a Zack and Meghan critique, further eroding what little bit of hope he has left for his life.  But you can be his Facebook friend or follow him on Twitter if you like.  It would be the highlight of his month if you did.  His beard has a Facebook page too.