Get to Know the Artist:Max Zoghbi-Co-Founder & Creative Director, Loupe Theory Studios

Max Zoghbi

Tell me about your artistic endeavors...
Hmmm well I tend to think artistically by default.  Not sure what that exactly means but I guess the best way I've heard it put is that my mind, for some reason, is the kind that over-thinks something (movie, book, relationship, idea, etc...) again again, spinning it every which direction, sometimes even imaginatively, until it's innate simplicity or meaning is found as it applies to me.  (counter-intuitive right? haha) So with that thought process always churning in my headspace, I tend to feel the need to share how I come to a newly learned life lesson, or better grasping simplicity, or a new revelation or new wisdom or whatever so others might have the same or similar experience.  Then I rely on what I've been wired to do well, my gifts so to speak, to share that process, that part of my 'story'.  I mean that's what life is, one big beautiful story we're all privileged to be a small small part of!  Since I could remember I was a terrible sketch artist or painter or drawer.  So I would build things as a kid, turned out I wasn't great at that either!  But what I was good at, and what I enjoyed doing was imagining and then writing about those imaginations, about those stories or experiences.  So I wrote. Sometimes stories, speeches or poems, and as of recent a lot of songs and screenplays, but I would just get all the thoughts out of my head and onto paper as best I could.  Turned out I was pretty darn good at that. Then I realized, again for some reason outside of my own abilities or strength, that my brain loved to eat pictures and videos.  So I bought a camera, started shooting and have been in love since.  For some people 'artistic endeavors' are everyday with everything, and sometimes It's like that for me too.  Most often it's when im in the thick of nature's untouched, unadulterated beauty.  But more practically, day in and day out, I just make the best art I can with what gifts I have, and I love trying to get better at them one project at a time.  I also love to dance, though I will not speak of my ability in the realm of that medium as it is severely deficient.  Just ask any of my friends who are married, I am that guy at the reception...

You majored in Psychology- what led you to video and to start LTS?

You know those kids who have it 'all figured out' walking into college freshman year?  yea.... that wasn't me.  I started out pre-med...HA! Being a right-brainer always came naturally to me, I just couldn't quite find a community I felt accepted in artistically that had any hope of a future financially.  I guess realized I loved people, I loved story and listening to people and understanding them.  This does not come naturally to some, but to me I would gladly stay up till 3 AM talking about life's complexities or people's problems or God or their stories before I would touch an O-Chem book (kill me please).  So I said screw it, switched to PSYC cause I could graduate the fastest and in the mean time started taking pictures.  For a long time I was headed to Seminary to get my M Div cause I wanted to be a pastor, and sometimes I still wanna do that, but for now and the future, I love my job, I love the stress of a start-up, I love the energy and freedom of entrepreneurship and more importantly I love my team.  So I guess LTS started after I finished my kayaking trip A Wake in the Current last year and needed something to do after college once I felt led not to go to seminary anymore.  Then I had a conversation with one of my heros, Dallis Ketchum.  It was me, Rob and Drew (my 2 closest friends) and Dallis on a cool fall afternoon in Jackson, MS.  We were all in this young 20's awkward cross-roads... and basically we said "Dallis, there's just no way to find a job that pays well enough to one day support a family, is God-glorifying, uses my gifts, leaves me fulfilled, one that I'm passionate about and can change the world.  There's no way to have all that, there has to be some compromise" To which Dallis replied 'No you don't. Life's too short, do what you love'  That moment changed my life.  I knew I loved people, business, video and photos and mostly a good story. So I figured we should start LTS... and here we are (SOMEHOW) still breathing and growing more than ever 8 months later!  Drew, by biz partner, is my best of friends for the past 10+ years, to get to work with him everyday is a dream!  I could not even come close to doing this without his countless gifts that make up the other half of LTS.  And our interns... gosh they rock.  So stoked to have them on board, they're amazing.

How would you describe your style?
I don't know that I rightly can do that, I am still very very young in what I do. I don't know if I even have a 'style' yet or if I do I cannot see it. I just try to make honest, world-class, emotive videos (and photos as myself apart from LTS).  I tend to think very narratively, so maybe that's a theme within my style...idk...pass? haha

How has your style evolved?
So this is a great question since I can't answer the first haha well all I can say is that an artist is never really 'done' with his or her work, they're just ready enough to 'show it'.  So I'm always content to release a video or photo series (and soon songs...shhh!) but I'm NEVER satisfied.  EVER.  I'll look back at something I thought was pretty rad even 3 months ago and say "what the hell was I thinking?!' haha A lot of that comes from my personal taste changing, growing and adapting, and a lot of it comes from my technical proficiency growing so I'm simply more aware of the fact that I know how to do more.  It's like a song writer discovering a new amp or a dancer a new style or a painter a new brush.  I'm just a rookie with an unquenchable thirst who still has much to learn, especially cause I'm self-taught I don't have a degree or classroom to rely on, either I push myself to grow or I never will.  I know I'm not the best at my craft, FAR FROM IT, but I do the best with what I have and try to get closer to my idols and inspirations each day and project at a time.  With that mantra, I, an annoyingly persistent perfectionist, can sleep well at night...most nights...

You do several different kinds of production work (short films, documentaries, weddings, commercials)- is there one you just love to do more than the others?
My mind tends to think in meta-narrative, epic life-story terms (Benjamin Button, Forrest Gump, Meet Joe Black, A Beautiful Mind, Amelie...) so I love short stories or stories about the paradox of life's over-looked subtleties and how they relate to life's larger themes all within our human condition.  More recently, through a lot of insane life events romantically and family-wise that have created the hardest 6 months of my life I, more than ever, have been gravitating towards things like persistence, endurance, altruism, perseverance, love, patience, redemption, faith and joy.  I love making stories involving those things the most, but I really love music videos or commercial shoots or even weddings.  Stories take many forms, as long as I'm telling them the best I know how with an awesomely capable team, I'm a happy camper.  Especially when It makes my current community, which is Baton Rouge, a better place.

What designers,artists, or creative people inspire you?
I really love Max Wanger and Max Vandukul's photography as well as Jeremy Cowart and Paul Octavias to name a few.  Black Negative from France is a creative agency doing some rad rad things in the creative world, check them out for sure!  I also love  amazing typography and branding work, its amazing.  One of my best friends JD  always brings me cool beans to chew on in the form of blogs, websites, or articles.  There's a very very very special girl I know who is one of my biggest creative/life anything inspirations, ever.  Wish I could say more, but she loves flowers and... just....yea....she's unspeakably amazing.  My pastor Scott is a pretty freaking amazing creative inspiration to me as well.  He wants to write a doctorate on the theology of imagination. How rad is that?  Hmmmm in terms of music....Bob Dylan's lyrics destroy me, Ben Rector is severely underrated and soooo inspirational to me these days Mumford & Sons, Fleet Foxes, Bon Iver, The Civil Wars, Civil Twilight, Coldplay.... I really love what Sandwich Video in LA is all about. Apricot is my favorite short film...ever.  Go watch it on Vimeo... you're welcome. In film & Cinema I love Phillip Bloom,Vincent LaForet, Steve Martin, Wes Anderson, Terrence Malik, Robert Zemeckis, Jean-Pierre Jeunut, and of course Scorcese and Speilburg. I LOVE anything by Wendell Berry in the realm of poetry.  "Mad Farmer Liberation Front" might as well be my middle name. Go read it.  But mostly it's God.  He's just the best, at everything creatively and I will never know how He does it all, nor do I want to. He wins.  Also, Im obsessed with the story of Peter Pan...

What are you listening to?
Right now? My hard drive fan's competing with Ben Rector blaring out of my computer!

What is your current obsession?
Understanding Joy

Are there any design trends that you just loathe right now?
Hmmm.... I'm sick of everyone thinking they're an amazing photographer cause they can put an Instagram filter on a photo (honest, sorry, but it's true)

What would your dream creative project be?

A Screenplay I've been working on for a while now....can't say much but it's going to change lives.... lots....

Where would I find you on a Saturday morning?

Sleeping in, running, at the farmers market or far far away on an unplanned road trip somewhere between here and Neverland....

Louisiana's/Baton Rouge's best kept secret? 
Afton Villa in St. Francisville!  You're welcome.  Baton Rouge its a tie between Rama, Magpie Cafe or my church.  All three rock.

(By the way I totally agree with Max- Afton Villa is a must see. I got married there but I'm not partial or anything.)

As a MAKER on makers workshop can you MAKE something just for us?

Photo by Max Zoghbi