Successful Berklee Alumni #108: Zach Miller

Zach Miller


Listen to the interview (approx. 1 hr, 6 min.) or download it.


Graduated in 2008 with a major in Music Business.  Principal instrument:  guitar.


Position:  Freelance Photographer.  Zach’s professional website shows many examples of his work.  As a freelancer, Zach works on a large variety of projects, but most of his work comes from business, particularly events and commercial real estate.  In addition to shooting photos, Zach does his own marketing as well as post-production.


Overview:  Zach enjoyed photography as a hobby while at Berklee.  After graduation, he was unable to find a job in the music industry, so he moved back to the DC area, and worked an administrative-job for his father’s construction company for money while he played drums with a local band.  By 2011, the band was tapering off, and a bandmate suggested he study photography since he liked it.  Zach went to the Art Institute of Washington (DC) and in one year of study earned a Diploma in Commercial Photography.

He continued to work that office-job while building his photography business on the side, getting a lot of work through Thumbtack, where clients post desired services and professionals bid to provide them.  He also built up his portfolio and started a photography blog. It took years, but in January 2017 Zach had enough business that he left the office job to be a full-time professional photographer.  He also plays drums for a new band, where he has fun gigging around the DC area, for for all of them it’s a side-thing.


You can see Zach’s LinkedIn profile here.


Choice Quotes:  “The camera has pushed me to step out being quiet and nervous. I’ve photographed celebrities, and as a photographer to me they’re just people. It’s fun to bring everyone down to earth.  I have to think about it, be creative, make someone comfortable–which has led to beautiful friendships & connections.”

“As a professional photographer, I spend very little time behind the camera. Most of my time is spent doing paperwork, putting in hours to send photos around, editing files, the whole 9 yards.”

“When I first shot photos I was like ‘I’m going to just shoot models!’ and yeah that sounds glamorous, but now I’m shooting commercial real estate and that’s bringing in a lot of money. You can’t let your head get into the way and have to listen to what is coming your way. Accept what’s working for you and keep pushing for that rather than what’s not.”

“I saw this at Berklee too: Everything is cool when it’s a hobby, but once there’s financial pressure applied, it brings some different thoughts– do I really want to do this? Anyone can shoot a photo and feel good about it. What happens when there are deadlines, when people don’t like a photo? Not everyone is going to like that. Test it out, see what your limits are. If you’re OK with the negatives, see where you can go.”

“Networking is so key; you can apply it to nearly every industry–especially the freelance world!  I got good at that in Berklee, where to be in a band or jam it was all about hanging out and getting to know people.”


See the full index of successful Berklee alumni.