Photographer Kobe Wagstaff has Zest!

Every once in awhile, I come across someone who reminds me of the passion and fearlessness I had when I first discovered the world of fashion in my early teens. After school, I would spend hours researching models like Dovima and Versuchka, taking photos with my best friend (who was a makeup artist). We’d end up painting each other silver or dreaming up different photographic scenarios, instantly executing and photographing them — fearlessly. These were some of my favorite times and memories, filled with fun and passion!

When I think of youth, passion, fearlessness, utter talent and potential, I think of the word “zest.” Having “zest,” of course, isn’t something that inherently belongs to youth alone…anyone, of any age, can hold zest. However, as we age it seems to become more difficult to hold onto it, for a multitude of reasons. We tend to become more aware of life’s darkness and inequalities, or harsh truths, putting a grey cloud over the bright and hopeful eyes we once had. We are also taught, by society’s standards and example, that art is almost always frivolous, unnecessary and superficial. Ironically, our societies (especially here in the United States) put celebrities and artists (who followed their own dreams to create their art) on enormous pedestals, yet we somehow still receive the message (loud and clear!) that chasing dreams and creating art is a no-no, a sign of naivety and instability. And while I understand the very real truth that living a life within the art world can and almost always is a life of instability, I find it sad to think of all the zest that’s gone unnoticed, unloved, unsupported and disregarded. Despite our strong desire (sometimes pressure) to belong within the conventional norms of adulthood, deep down, we all have another kind of desire, one that lives in our hearts — our zests — waiting to be discovered…or rediscovered. Sometimes, wonderfully enough, we are reminded to look outside of our learned selves when zesty, vibrant souls come along our paths, awakening the fiery embers within us, too.

Kobe Wagstaff, a brilliant photographer and wonderful human, was an immediate re-acquaintance with zest (not that I’d lost my own, but sometimes life brings waves and lulls). I didn’t have to meet him in person to feel his passion; one look on his Instagram page and I knew. His images were beautiful and visually appealing, but what struck me most in a sea of online images (in our content-oriented world), were that his images screamed “fun.” Not the obvious, poppy, color-filled type of fun, but the type that exudes from someone who follows their heart, boldly, lacing everything they do with a certain…magic. Magic, or zest, that transcends the physicality of an image, offering a view into the artist’s soul. Magic, or zest, that feels so wild and free, precious and rare, especially in adulthood. (On a side note, I question if this is why our societies are so youth-obsessed? Is it really all about fearing wrinkles? Or is it a desire to regain the spirit of life, hope, fearlessness, and passion we once had before we became adults? More on that later.) Kobe has that zest.

Shooting with him, observing and feeling his tangible passion for his photography, film cameras, art direction and vision, was thrilling. Inspiring. Beautiful. Contagious. I felt honored to be in front of his lens. Thank you, Kobe.