Tuff Nerds & Glittery Girls:
A Profile of Photographer Zachary Morehouse by Earl Crown
“I’m not a gambler by nature, but I think I understand why people do it. My first show, in the first ten minutes, I sold my most expensive piece. After that I was hooked.” —Zachary Morehouse In 1989, when he was seventeen, Zachary Morehouse was a featured performer on a local Baltimore televised talent show called “In the Spotlight”. He was invited to perform his magic and juggling skills. On the day the show was taped, the other acts ran long. Zach’s act was pushed to the end of the program, crammed into the final seconds of the show. Zach came out on stage and attempted to juggle. He immediately dropped his balls all over the stage as the credits rolled across the screen. It was a disaster. His televi-
sion debut was over in seconds, and other than a few comedy class performances at Towson University, his performing career was put on hold for almost 20 years. But art and performance are as much about failure as they are about success. Zach is a resilient person. He refused to abandon his creative pursuits. He pushed forward, re-creating himself as a stand-up comedian, a videographer, and (eventually) as a photographer. Zach has an undeniable talent for all three art forms. Zach is a Baltimore native. He grew up in Waverly, and graduated from City College. He began making videos as an adolescent, using the two-VCRs-and a pause button method of production. By 2005 he had moved on to digital video and photography. Morehouse’s artistic alter ego, Tuff Nerd, is de-
rived from the way he grew up. He is and always has been a “nerd”, in the best sense of the word. But as Waverly became a more dangerous place to live in the 1980s and 1990s, Zach also had to learn to be tough in order to survive. The name was chosen after filming several events that involved rowdy partygoers and women on rollerskates careening into him at high speeds, where he discovered his mutant ability of becoming a virtually immovable object while filming. Under the name TuffNerd #3.14FU, Morehouse began videotaping Baltimore roller derby matches in 2006. Zach honed his skills as a videographer and editor, bringing his keen visual instincts and sense of humor to all of his projects. He gained a reputation in Baltimore for doing high-quality video work. Zach’s involvement in roller derby and videography gradually evolved into an interest in photography. He became focused on photographing the female form.
In 2010 Zach’s friend Mikey Love, a promoter at The Depot nightclub, was putting together an art show for the Charles Street venue. Love asked Morehouse if he had any art worth displaying. Zach accepted the challenge. He assembled a sensational set of photographs, which he framed himself. Zach’s hard work resulted in a very successful first show. Zach’s photographs are both erotic and (often) humorous at the same time. He has been fortunate to work with models who are not only physically beautiful but also gifted performers. Some of his models have been drawn from the ranks of Baltimore’s burgeoning burlesque scene, circus folk, and random solicitations on the street and in bars. Morehouse is particularly adept at using colorful costumes and unusual props in his photography. His technical skills, creativity, and natural wit result in a striking portfolio of truly exciting pictures.
That first show at The Depot caught the attention of local photographer Joe Giordano, who suggested that Morehouse contact Eduardo Rodriguez of Gallery 788 about doing a proper gallery show. Zach contacted Rodriguez and not too long afterwards his erotic photography was on display at Gallery 788. The show at Gallery 788 was both a critical and financial success. But for Morehouse, success as an artist is not about money. It is his firm belief that “if you break even, you’re doing awesome. It’s about getting people to see the work.” At Gallery 788, the featured artists take turns covering shifts at the gallery. Zach used his time at the gallery as an opportunity to do a photo shoot at the gallery itself. He brought models in to the gallery, and took a series of pictures where his previous work served as the background. Zach’s work has been featured in the highlyrespected “Girls and Corpses Magazine.” He has also self-published a collection of his work in the form of a small hardback book, “Tuff Nerd’s Eye Candy.” We have assembled a sampling of Zach Morehouse’s photographs for you to enjoy, with captions written by the artist himself. The stories behind these pictures are as interesting as the photos themselves. Zachary Morehouse has already proven himself as a highly talented photographer, and his work is on an exciting upward trajectory. His pictures are dynamic and sexy, with a flavor that is tough, nerdy, and uniquely Baltimore.