Passion Projects: From Wall Street to the Lens with Max Salk  


Unless you come from money, you undoubtedly work to earn a living. If you’re lucky, and you have done the appropriate due diligence, you may end up enjoying your career trajectory quite a bit. Perhaps you have studied within a particular field of interest, landed a fulfilling position post-matriculation, and through hard work, dedication, and late nights at the office, you’ve earned justifiable clout within a company. For many employed professionals, their work environment is enjoyable, and their professional successes mount annually.

However, nothing compares to the rush of exhilaration with what is commonly referred to as a “passion project,” or a time-consuming activity that is sheerly driven by raw interest, engagement, and the desire to create, capture, learn, and showcase a skill. Passion projects can vary in scope, success, and overall structure, but consistently remain as a driving force in the creative escape sought by many individuals. For those seeking to physically manifest inspirations into a tangible form, various forms of artful expression act as aesthetically pleasing passion projects. Individuals seeking to learn a new trade, craft, or activity may delve into the realm of learning a new language, or picking up an instrument. A passion project may be short term, like restoring an antique farmhouse dining room table, or long term, like mastering a martial art. As these pursuits of enrichment are highly bespoke in nature, they are constructed entirely by the individual pursuing the endeavor, and often enrich said individual’s being in all facets.

For established investment professional Max Salk, his passion lies in his nascent photography endeavors. Entirely committed to his successful role in the investment world, photography has become Salk’s passion project, his artful expression of feeling, and his motivator for capturing the essence of moments within travel. From an early age, Salk’s adventurous spirit, and love of travel, played a role in eventually manifesting this passion project after a fateful trip abroad.

Born and raised in Chicago, Salk excelled academically, and eventually earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Finance from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. During his college tenure, Salk studied abroad for a semester in the Netherlands, and often found himself marveling at the urban landscape within the country’s idyllic Rotterdam. In exploring the city, Salk often walked near the docks, camera in hand, ready to capture aesthetic wonders worthy of keeping, and perhaps showcasing for friends, family, and peers. On a particularly foggy dockside morning, Salk was struck by the stark vastness of the fog, hiding the visage behind a cloud of mystery, translating perfectly into feelings of solitude, somberness, and a quiet dignity. He photographed this scene, capturing its essence, and recognizing the moment that he became enthralled by pursuing photography as a hobby.

Max Salk Photography | The Netherlands

Upon the conclusion of this life-altering trip, Salk vowed to keep his trusted camera nearby throughout all of his future travels, recognizing his particular love of landscape photography, and the notion of portraying movement in an otherwise stark natural environment. Post-matriculation, Salk entered the workforce via an appointment at Chicago’s Morningstar, and later at PPM America. Within these initial positions, Salk developed as a financial professional, and remained entirely enthralled with the concept of researching and recommending investment opportunities. Shortly after joining the industry, Salk garnered success, and took on opportunities that allowed him to excel professionally. In 2015, Max Salk relocated to New York City, and joined The Blackstone Group, where he now works as a Vice President and US Credit Research Analyst.

Finding ongoing success within his professional sphere, Salk continued to delve into his passion for photography, combining his naturally trained eye for conveyance of emotion through photographs, with new technical skills learned through engaging in the activity. As with many passion projects, Salk’s keen natural talents continued to motivate his desire to capture meaningful shots, and through repetition and practice, the act of learning began to make this task more streamlined throughout each excursion.

Max Salk Photography | Arizona and Utah

Garnering an impressive amateur portfolio, Salk’s works heavily feature environmental photography taken on numerous trips to various locations. Through a visit to Alaska, Salk effortlessly captured the magnificent size of mountains, set as domineering backdrops to placid waters, and lush greenery. Conversely, on a trek through the Western United States, Salk’s usage of rust-colored, boundary-less landscapes brought to life the arid feeling of the deserts. In Thailand and Laos, Salk’s ability to capture life in the vibrance of bamboo emerging from still waters, and across fields, provided a feeling of peaceful optimism in an otherwise still scene. Through capturing an outlying object, feeling, or outlier in a particular scene, Salk found his particular niche in the realm of travel photography.

As a passion project, photography continues to motivate Salk to seek aesthetic beauty within the world’s remote corners. Combined with his love for travel, photography is a perfect vehicle for Salk to express his artistic nature, allowing for an outpouring of expression through tangible creation, sought by many creative individuals. By integrating his passion project within his personal life, Salk has been able to cohesively marry these elements into a manner that works seamlessly within the scope of his busy life. Excelling within the professional sphere, and spearheading his own destiny of artful fulfillment, Max Salk’s photography passion project remains a wonderful example of an individual bridging the gap between various facets of life, captured through his own lens.

Want more on Max Salk? Read our last article here, or follow him on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter!


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