Jacob Zimmer was a child actor whose ambitions during his teen years shifted from being on-stage to back stage, and from being in-front of the camera to behind the camera. He learned to develop film and enlarge prints while taking photography courses in high school; while also engaging in emerging video technology.
Assuming a career in broadcasting, Zimmer followed that path in college but soon changed his major from telecommunications to philosophy and religion when he realized that the technology he was learning would be obsolete by the time he graduated. He was right – after college came the internet and the digital revolution. (The material learned in his religion and philosophy classes was unaffected.)
Extracurricular activities included being a staff writer for the student newspaper and performing as the mascot for basketball games, as well as membership in student telecommunications and theatre clubs. His on-campus job was as a show technician for all the concerts, talent shows and other live events in the campus auditoriums. During the summers, Zimmer worked in the Entertainment department at Kentucky Kingdom Amusement Park. Ironically, it was that field that turned into a career as his first full time job after college was as a technician for live events and shows. (Turns out there wasn’t a big job market for professional philosophers.)
That led to five years on the road where Zimmer worked his way up to Producer of The Lessons in Leadership Lecture Series, a touring one-day seminar that was sponsored by America’s leading colleges and universities across the country featuring best-selling authors and renowned speakers: Stephen Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People; Ken Blanchard, The One-Minute Manager; Tom Peters, In Search of Excellence; Bob Nelson, 1001 Ways to Reward Employees; and Robert Cooper, The Other 90%.
In that time, Zimmer traveled to and worked in all 50 United States. It was similar to concert touring, except the gigs were management seminars during business hours (in the live event production world known as "corporate theatre"). The speakers were all PhD former college professors and the material was not all that different from graduate level business and philosophy curriculum. For Jacob, those were the best years of his life. Sadly, the company was adversely affected by September 11th and within a year went out of business.
His next vocation was a management position in Dallas, TX supervising a dozen staff and enough equipment to fill five semi trucks. While mostly a desk job, he did get out of the office a few times to work as the Stage Manager for the Dallas Cowboy’s Cheerleaders.
After Dallas, Zimmer moved to New Orleans, LA where he continued to work in event production, as well as film and television. Finally an opportunity arose to shift his career into journalism when he took a position as Editor of an entertainment and fashion magazine which had a modeling agency as a sister company. By this time, the quality of the digital technology caught up to film and so he embraced still photography as source of income.
Hurricane Katrina forced Zimmer to move back home to Louisville. The owners of the magazine and modeling agency relocated to Beverly Hills, CA, and expanded across the country. Zimmer opened an edition in Louisville which allowed extensive networking opportunities. While hiring other photographers when needed, Zimmer did much of the photography himself for both local and national editions.
The parent company was bought out and shut down the magazine, leaving Zimmer to do freelance photography and event production. Initially, most of Zimmer’s photography was in the same demographic as the magazine’s advertisers. But In the winter of 2007 – 2008, Jacob opened his own portrait studio in the Highlands and Zymage, LLC Event Production and Photography was born.
A few years later, the studio relocated to a much larger location on East Broadway and the client base rapidly expanded to include newspapers and corporate clients. Zimmer was the Chief Photographer at the Voice-Tribune weekly paper for two years and later joined the freelance pool for The Courier-Journal, where he still takes assignments.
Jacob has entered few photo contests, but placed in each of them including the Kentucky News Photographer Association, Literary LEO, the Courier-Journal Travel Photo Contest and won the Grand Prize in the Preservation Louisville Photo Contest, part of the Louisville Photo Bienniel in 2013.
Zimmer’s business philosophy is very different than the average company owner and photographer. While most choose a field or genre and set goals to accomplish on a timeline, Jacob has let his clients lead him. His versatility and range of talents has allowed him to “Never Say No” and take any task, assignment or client need that arises. He has found that the phenomenon of “One Thing Leads to Another” to be the key to an expanding business and portfolio. For example, Jacob never set out to be a wedding photographer, but his personable charisma and talent had made him a highly sought after photographer for couples.
This value of networking over marketing has thrust Zymage into Kentucky’s signature industries of horse racing and bourbon where Zimmer has secured clients such as Churchill Downs, Brown-Forman and Heaven Hill, providing a range of services including of course photography, but also promotions and talent booking. The background in live event production segued into convention and trade show photography. An abridged list of corporate clients can be seen on the Company Information page.
The industries of theatre, show-biz, promotions and fashion photography have an obvious intersection: Runway Shows. Zimmer has served as producer, director, and show manager for many of the major fashion shows in Louisville. As a photographer, Zimmer is often assigned by newspapers to cover other fashion shows when he isn’t working backstage. Another popular intersection is pageants. Due to his experience in stage productions and photography assignments, Zimmer is asked to serve as a judge in local and regional pageants.
Personal: Zimmer is unmarried, but in a relationship and enjoys visiting with family, especially his eight year old nephew and four year old niece. An active social life often intersects with work, such as when gigs are parties; and he especially enjoys costumed events. Likewise, he has a difficult time attending concerts and live shows as he prefers to be working them. Interests include studying religion, engagement in politics and college basketball. But Zimmer doesn’t take sides in the workplace, as people from all cultures, the breadth of the political spectrum and sports fan bases are welcome as Zymage clients.
This self portrait is a homage to the 1977 album cover "The Stranger" by Billy Joel.