Zoe Zimmer may live a slightly more lavish lifestyle than your average ‘newish on the scene’ fashion photographer but she certainly takes nothing for granted. Daughter of a popular 80’s model and award winning Hollywood composer Hans Zimmer, who’s work includes music for films such The Gladiator, Rain Man, Inception and my favourite The Lion King, it may be a bit obvious that Zoe started out her career in fashion as a Model after Brian Adams took some test shots of her quirkily beautiful face. What’s not so obvious and honestly quite unusual is Zoe’s determination to build her career on her own name and to not just be the daughter of….., no matter how much she’s pushed to do otherwise.
FashionWatching: What made you decide to quit modelling and pursue photography?
Zoe: “Mainly, because I got bored. I think modelling seems much more exciting from the outside! I always knew it had a time limit on it, you have a few good years if you’re lucky! I started really young, probably too young, and by the time I was 19 I felt like old news without having done much. I’m really glad I did it, and I’m really glad I stopped doing it. The photography thing wasn’t as obvious as it sounds, I thought for a long time about what I wanted to do now that I was an “over the hill” model at the grand old age of 20 – all I knew is that it didn’t involve a desk or university.”
FashionWatching: Your parents both have very successful careers, your mum was a top model in the 80’s and your dad being a huge Hollywood composer, did you ever just feel like following in their footsteps and having an easy ride?
Zoe: “Never. Don’t get me wrong, having parents who work in creative industries is great and has some awesome advantages, but there’s a difference between having advantages and taking advantage. I’m sure no one wants to watch their child struggle at the beginning of a potentially difficult career, but I don’t think either of my parents would have let me sit back and rely on my last-name even if I had wanted to.”
FashionWatching: You seem very determined and completely aware of the path you want your career to take, what drives you?
Zoe: “I’ve always been pretty ambitious, which was a nightmare when I didn’t know what I wanted to do. Displaced ambition often leads to fun things like anxiety attacks and wasting money on courses at art schools you’re never going to attend. When I was modelling, I hated the thought of being the cliché “model daughter of so and so”, so I tried my hardest to escape that label. Personally, I think nothing inspires motivation like the need to prove people wrong.”
FashionWatching: Tell me about the UN project. How did you get involved with it?
Zoe: “A very good friend of mine, Bonnie Abaunza, got me involved with it. Bonnie was working on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights campaign and asked if I wanted to photograph it for billboards they were doing. My main reason for wanting to do it, other than working with Bonnie who’s one of my favourite people, was to do something that wasn’t related to fashion for a minute. Although I don’t plan on abandoning fashion photography anytime soon, seeing how that kind of campaign is put together was incredibly interesting and so far away from what I’m used to.”
FashionWatching: Who was your favourite celebrity to shoot and why?
Zoe: “I was surprised to like Heidi Montag as much as I did. I shot her during a PSA she was shooting for Financial Reform with Ron Howard, and she was very professional and very sweet – I was even invited out for Mexican afterwards! You can’t help having preconceived ideas about certain people and it’s always a nice surprise when you’re wrong, this was definitely one of those occasions. Plus, anyone who likes Don Antonio’s (well known Mexican restaurant in LA) is ok by me.”
FashionWatching: What is your favourite shoot you’ve done so far?
Zoe: “Hard to say. Currently, one I did in Los Angeles during the summer, which involved me getting into a very cold pool with a half naked model and a $3 underwater disposable camera.”
FashionWatching: You split your time between London and LA, where do you prefer to be and which of the two cities do you get the most inspiration from for your work?
Zoe: “I think about this quite a lot, I’m not sure where I prefer to be and it depends on what mood I’m in. Right now I wouldn’t change the set up I have, being able to go between the two is pretty great. I grew up in central London and it’ll always feel like home, but LA’s becoming a close second. In terms of work, I don’t think there are many cities that beat Los Angeles for locations – I have a real thing about classic Americana, but I think the way people work and the industry in London is much easier. It’s a tough one… I hope my Air Miles last so I don’t have to decide.”
FashionWatching: Who would you most like to shoot?
Zoe: “Assuming little things like time travel and death aren’t an issue, Elvis or Bettie Page.”
FashionWatching: Where do you see yourself in the future?
Zoe: “Heathrow Terminal 5.”