What makes a good photographer? Is it all ideas or more technical? Yesterday we interviewed the colourblind, self-taught photographer Ben Zank who first picked up a camera when he was 18. “We were rummaging through my grandmothers attic when I found her old Pentax ME Super. It was in perfect condition with a 50mm lens attached. I had no idea how to operate a film camera. It took me a month just to figure out how to open the back to insert some film.” Since then he has fallen deeply in-love with photography. In fall 2013, he completed his first 365 project, where he took one photo every day for a year which actually took an extra 6 months to finish.
This really pushed his art practice further, keeping him focused and on point. After this project he moved to his new apartment in Harlem, got a full time job and was producing small amounts of new work. Zank blames his living situation for producing a new series of completely different work, “A good portion of the series [When Words Fail], if not all of them, were taken right after I had graduated from college and was living at home. For nearly a year, I had no real job except to take photos. I felt trapped, suffocated by the repetitive landscape of my hometown [Bronx, NYC]. I think a lot of that emotion really shows in that set of images. After I moved out and started working full-time, my output of work decreased, but when I did make work it seemed more open ended, rather than trapped.“
“Most of the time I enjoy creating based on my immediate surroundings and how I feel at the time which ends up giving each image it’s own stand alone theme.”
“Location, Location, Location. The rest is often a mystery. And that makes the end result more rewarding if a shoot succeeds.When I get stuck on an idea, I’ll pursue it and end up creating different variables of that idea until I’m satisfied.”
With a recent Converse campaign(seen above) under his belt, along with other big clients, the surreal photographer isn’t looking to do any exhibitions currently but was “- more focused on creating my next body of work.” Zank also was in Tumblr’s ‘Top 25 Photographers’ of the year in 2014.
Zank spent some time in New Zealand in September 2014 and in a recent tumblr post he talks about going back to Karekare, which is in New Zealand. When we asked What’s next for Ben Zank? he replied “Let’s just say I’m going to be eating a lot of kūmera bread from now on.” Kūmera is also native to New Zealand.
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