Zac Witte is undoubtedly the most beloved storyteller of San Marcos, Texas. Him and his wife Kim are the creative team behind many cool San Martian media-making ideas such as @smtxunderwater - a popular instagram page focused on underwater pictures of the San Marcos River - and SMTX Sessions, a project that highlights some of the best cultural, arts & music happenings and personalities in the 78666 area.
One of the elements that makes Zac's @smtxunderwater project on Instagram so unique - besides the beautifully composed photography - is actually Zac himself! Most of the pictures convey a very personal feel, created by someone who clearly cares deeply about the subjects he is photographing. Even though the biggest protagonist of Zac's Instagram channel is the San Marcos River, Zac also features his wife Kim and his dog in many of the channel's photographs, giving us a very exclusive glimpse into what it is like to spend some time with this very special man and his family.
Zac's @smtxunderwater pictures are also a great study of the incredible beauty of the San Marcos River. In many ways, Zac's work is a source of inspiration for all of us to take care of this wonderful treasure that we have been given.
We caught up with Zac at AquaBrew during our last 3rd Thursday Hang Out to learn about all the creative ideas he has been lately developing. Meeting Zac in person is an experience on its own; the man radiates a sense of happiness and great vibes, kind of like the type of energy that one gets by taking a plunge in the refreshing and healing waters of his dear river. We were happy to hear that Zac loves AquaBrew and is a fan of our AB Skyscraper Mosaic IPA, one of our highest rated beers that will be soon available (in cans) at local HEB's and many other places across Central Texas.
Here are some of the different questions we asked Zac. In overall, we had a great time talking to this SMTX creative mastermind and learning more about his projects, his personal life and his love for San Marcos and its legendary river.
AquaBrew: Zac, we love your @SMTXunderwater work; We find the pictures to be beautiful and have a nice and soothing personal touch. The work definitely shows also that you really love the San Marcos River. How did that idea start, what made you stick with it and where is it going now?
Zac: I started going to the river for personal therapy. I was dealing with a great deal of inflammation and malaise. 15- 30 minutes under water was a daily routine that I did, even during the winter. As a photographer/film maker it didn't take me long to plant a camera in my hand while meditating and relaxing in the relief of the river. Once I created an Instagram account that was centered around capturing photos in and around the river, it seemed only natural to make the account PSA in nature. There is so much I didn't know about the river when I went to school here and there is still so much to learn. I would like to capture more photos and films that are inspired by the river in the form of narrative story telling, conceptual music videos, and other forms of art. For now, it is still more about relaxing and meditating. I capture photos the way a fisherman may throw their line. I do it for the sake of being out there relaxing, and if I make a big capture then it just adds to the enjoyment.
AquaBrew: Besides spending an incredible amount of time filming and photographing the SM River, you also seem to be constantly filming all of San Marcos. How did this love for San Marcos start? How did you end up living and working in SMTX anyways?
Zac: I went to school at Texas State where I met my wife and when work in other cities drew us away from San Marcos, we always thought we would find a way to retire here. At some point we thought why wait. We moved back for the river primarily, but fell in love with so much of the small town charm. From the unique characters, to the local businesses holding onto the friendly and historic aesthetic, and the pure love of arts and culture that is displayed throughout all aspects of town. I am and will continue what I do to support and promote the local artists and businesses in our growing community.
AquaBrew: You and your wife Kim are always creating beautiful things together; From filming weddings across Texas, to acting/directing short films, to taking pictures together underwater. You guys make such a great team! Tell us a bit about your story. Did you two meet in San Marcos? How is it to live and work with the person you love?
Zac: We meet at Texas State in a 3-D design class taught by Peter Arcidiacono, who is actually heavily involved in the art community here in San Marcos. Kimberly was studying for a degree in art education. We started dating in his class and starting creating art together. We even finished the semester with a joint performance piece in that 3-D design class. We've been creating and working together on all sorts of half-witted art/video projects ever since. I started working in wedding videography once she started teaching. 6 years into teaching she made a bittersweet decision to leave the teaching world and join forces with me and my videography business. Now we both fully run and operate Witte Idea- wedding films. I have really appreciated her hard work and motivation, it's refreshing to see her shine in a new light. We have loved this opportunity to work together full time, but it has its challenges for sure. We've learned a lot about balance, communication, gratitude, and team work.
AquaBrew: In many ways San Marcos is changing, In many other ways it kind of stays the same. Do you agree with this statement when it comes to the media industry in SMTX? How is it to be a working media maker that focuses quite a bit on the San Marcos community? Do you feel you have done already everything that's there to do in San Marcos, or do you feel you're barely starting?
Zac: The town is changing and has always been. I lived in Austin from 2000-2012 and saw it go through some dramatic changes, there were, and still are, a lot of bitter conversations with some of the original Austinites about all the change. Growth and change are inevitable, but it's the locals and other positive individuals that can lead the way to a thriving and sustainable community while still holding onto the authentic culture that makes San Marcos so unique. Media is always a constant, but when locals are involved in the community there will be a reflection of how we want San Marcos to be represented. It's a great opportunity to share unique stories that would otherwise be forgotten, to share the message of protecting the river, and to document the beautiful time that is now, in San Marcos, Texas. The ideas and projects are endless as a media maker here in this town. Whether I'm taking photos or filming, I'm always discovering something new to capture and share with the world.
AquaBrew: Since you are such a well known storyteller in San Marcos and such a big part of the 78666 community, we bet you have seen all kinds of crazy, funny and amazing things while working here! Can you share with us one particular story about your professional media-making life that you feel could have ONLY happened in San Marcos, Texas?
Zac: UNICYCLE FOOTBALL!
AquaBrew: Your SMTXsessions project is very interesting. Can you tell us a little bit about it?
Zac: SMTXsessions started with Paul Dubiel and I, wanting to mimic something like tiny desk or even studio 1A on NPR.
Sessions were to be a live event displaying a collaboration of different art forms in a unique/historic location in San Marcos.
We aimed to film and record a local band, share different artistic live performances, while also providing a small history lesson on the building that the event was being held in. As the landscape changes and new people move in and out of San Marcos, we thought this would be a great way to preserve and share the stories from this community. To help add to the culture and maybe help others gain a new understanding and respect for this town and its history.
That's a concept we'd like to explore again in the future.
Although, out of this experimentation SMTXsessions quickly evolved to become multi media collaboration. We have worked closely with different organizations and small businesses to help promote and add to the San Martian culture. We really love and enjoy this little town, and we love to document the special events and memories that are made here. Everything from recording bands live, to different parades, helping promote different events, and even creating different PSAs to keep our river clean. We enjoy being in this position because it's a great way to get the right message across.
AquaBrew: You are definitely a guy with a head full of amazing ideas. What's next for your creative endeavors?
Zac: I will have to consult my idea list about this one. The list seems never ending, almost overwhelming, but the inspiration helps me prioritize and determine which idea is next to create. Right now we are teaming up with the cinema club to promote varies events leading up to their annual Lost River Film Fest. We are also working on a short documentary of Frisbee Dan that should be ready for the festival this year. Among other things different shorts, different music video ideas, different ways to get my river photography out there. I'm happy most when I'm creating, so there's always something to be done.