How old does a guy have to be to be considered a Renaissance Man?
Is 18 years old too young? If not, then Zack Sandler is the modern embodiment of a Renaissance Man.
Back on January 1, after I had put in some time shooting the Sons of Ireland Polar Bear Plunge in Asbury Park, I did a quick-but-quick 30 minute portrait session with Zack and one of his new guitars that he had built.
Yes, he builds his own guitars. *Ding! Renaissance Man alert!
I often say, having this little machine hanging off my arm opens doors that would otherwise not be open and lets me meet people I would otherwise not meet.
I first met Zack, on the boardwalk in AP no less, back in June of 2011. Clarence Clemons, The Big Man of E Street saxaphone fame, had just passed. I went down to Asbury Park to document the scene and reaction from fans outside The Stone Pony and on the boardwalk.
I saw Zack on the boardwalk wearing an Springsteen t-shirt. Seemed young to me to be fan, so I approached his father. I told him what I was doing and asked if I could snap his portrait. Emailed him later to get permission to use it on my blog post.
Zach was shaggy-haired then, a little shy, but told me about his love of Bruce’s music, and how he also played sax himself. Even met Clarence Clemons.
Since then, I’ve kept in touch with Zack’s day, a few emails here and there. And thanks to social media (Facebook friends, Twitter, Instagram), I’ve gotten to know Zack better and what him grow.
Aside from playing the sax still, he builds his own guitars (*Ding! Renaissance Man alert!). He’s a lot of local shows, including at The Stony Pony and has met or played with many of the local big names. He just played the Light of Day shows, (concerts in Asbury Park to raise money for Parkinson’s Awareness) and yes, he’s met Bruce a couple of times. Jon Bon Jovi, too.
But he’s also a very good goal keep for his high school team.*Ding! Renaissance Man alert!
Ran track & field. *Ding! Renaissance Man alert!
He surfs too, taking sick shots with his GoPro while in the water. *Ding! Renaissance Man alert!
And he’s been accepted to Monmouth University as a Music Industry major. *Ding! Renaissance Man alert!
He’s an athlete and a scholar. And a musician. I don’t know if he cooks, too, but that would just top it off.
Like I said, Renaissance Man.
Anyway, he pinged me while I was in Asbury Park, and thanks to the great backrounds within walking distance of Convention Hall, he and I were able to get a quick photoshoot under our belts.
The wind was cold rolling down the boardwalk, but Zack hung in there with me as I put him into different set ups. At this point in my day, my Canon 50D had bonked due to taking on Polar Bear Plunge water, so I was shooting strictly with my Fuji X100T. I had wanted to see if I liked it for a portrait shoot…didn’t expect to just jump in with it. But maybe it was best this way.
On the boardwalk, in the old Casino, outside the Empress Hotel with that fantastic tile background. We hit them all – bang, bang, bang.
I liked how the X100T performed, though either because of my clumsiness or the cold, I was having trouble with some of the controls.
To close it out, we hit The Stone Pony on Ocean Ave. Many musicians dream of stepping on the legendary stage that saw so many big names play it back then and even now. Zack’s already rocked it a few times. Still, I doubt it gets old for him.
By the end of the shoot, we had two sets of cold hands but some fun shots in the bag. We promised we’d do it again, when it was warmer, and maybe with his sax the next time.
Judging from what I can tell from Zack’s various social media posts, he seems like a fine young man. His parents have done a great job raising him, and I hope my sons can have as many diverse interests as he doe.
I look forward to continuing this friendship and watching him grow as a student, an athlete, a musician and as a young man.
(c)Mark Krajnak | JerseyStyle Photography | 2016