Zacuto

The Legacy of a Photography Pioneer, Monte Zucker

Guest author Scott Emerton shares the story of the pioneering photographer and educator Monte Zucker – founder of education company MZed. Zacuto has proudly partnered with MZed on a number of filmmaking workshops and now many of those workshops are available to stream via the company’s new subscription membership, “MZed Pro”.

(Click here to jump to discount info on the membership.)

Education was a lot different back in the 1960s. It didn’t matter if you wanted to learn filmmaking, photography, medicine or a foreign language. While we’ve probably seen the singularly most significant revolution in learning take place over the past 20 years, prior to that it hadn’t changed in decades. You had books (or magazines or journals), or you could take classes to learn in person. In the ‘80s and ‘90s maybe you could learn via TV programs or, if you were lucky, source a video on VHS, but prior to the maturation of the internet and eCommerce systems, the distribution systems just didn’t exist to support the learning of anything that wasn’t broadly mainstream.

Monte Zucker – The Beginning

So it was back in the ’60s that professional photographer Monte Zucker—best known for his candid wedding portraits—started sharing the techniques that had grown his photo business into one of the most awarded and renowned studios in the US. His workshops and lessons were incredibly well received, particularly amongst the professional community and while he always identified as a photographer firstly, education became an integral and inseparable part of his career. Even with the advent of online learning in the late ‘90s and early 2000s, Monte Zucker Photographic Education continued to host popular photographic workshops and seminars up until his passing in 2007.

mzed pro discount through zacuto

The DSLR Revolution

A few years after, Canon released the 5D MkII and it wasn’t long before photographers in the US and around the world realized how this style of camera—combined with online video streaming—had changed things forever. While there were forward-thinking innovators like Vincent Laforet and Philip Bloom who were pushing the boundaries of these exciting new cameras and generously sharing their findings, creative professionals had a seemingly insatiable thirst for any education that would help them extract the most from this exciting new opportunity.

Monte Zucker Photographic Education, now led by Monte’s former assistant Jeff Medford, was quick to respond to this and so began MZed’s shift towards filmmaking education. In 2010 the “Photo Fusion Revolution” tour visited 30 US cities, combining photography and basic filmmaking skills. While these workshops introduced photographers to the principles of filmmaking, 2013’s “The Art of Visual Storytelling” saw the company (now know as MZed) focus purely on film for filmmakers. Hosted by Alex Buono, 17-year veteran DP of Saturday Night Live’s film unit, the tour visited 32 cities around the US and still is the most popular MZed course to date (even amongst our MZed Pro members!).

Zacuto & MZed

MZed’s workshop tours held since then would be familiar to most Zacuto customers—of course they’ve been a long supporter of education in general, but Zacuto have remained one of MZed’s longest running partners and sponsors, helping to make our education possible and giving MZed students the opportunity to see Zacuto’s gear like Next Gen Recoil rigs and the award-winning Gratical EVFs in action in production environments and in the hands of industry experts.

The Next Step

This year saw MZed continue its evolution as we moved towards an online-only model, which allows us to invest more into the content itself than producing a tour – as you can guess, taking a team of sometimes up to 15 people around 30 cities for three months at a time isn’t cheap! This way we can both invest more into the content, but also make it available at a more accessible price point, as we’ve done with the recently released Philip Bloom’s Cinematic Masterclass.

MZed Pro

We’ve also launched a subscription membership, MZed Pro, which gives members unlimited access to stream a large number of our courses for an annual membership fee that is cheaper than if you were to buy almost any of our courses on their own. If you want to download the course (or module) for offline viewing then that’s possible via an additional purchase, and while you don’t get access to every course in MZed’s library we will be adding courses in future and all new courses will be added to the MZed Pro library in time.

But this doesn’t mean that we’ve completely ruled out workshops either – more so that it’s not our primary business model anymore. We’ll continue to host workshops but these will most likely be in support of longer-format online courses.

So while the methods and platforms for teaching have changed a lot since Monte Zucker founded the company over 50 years ago, his legacy of excellence in education for creative professionals continues to grow.

If you have any questions about MZed or our courses, feel free to reach out to us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or via our website.

Get Your Discount!

We’re excited to offer Zacuto customers an exclusive discount of $50 off an annual MZed Pro membership, which gives you streaming access to a huge library of our most popular education for filmmakers. To claim your special offer just visit our site and enter the code ZACUTO50 during checkout.
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About the Author


A long-time movie fanatic, Scott Emerton has been in and around the filmmaking industry for over a decade. Known to many for his time at RØDE Microphones, Scott now owns education company MZed and manages filmmaking news site Newsshooter.com.

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