NYC-based photographer Ben Zank captures a melancholy surrealism

New York based photographer Ben Zank is a young gun making work that really excites us right now. He first picked up a camera at age 18, using a Pentax ME Super that his grandmother gave him. He’s since moved onto digital, using his DSLR, a remote interval timer and a model. His portraits, which either use models or himself, often exude a sense of melancholy surrealism, and a touch of humour too.

Even though almost all of his shots involve a single person, he rarely shows a face. This keeps the models neutral, using body language and environment to convey emotion. Ben relies on the simplicity of form and composition to create an image which speaks. The combination of lines, geometry, colour, suspense and the human body, often results in a feeling of cinema. Exploring themes like numbness, human isolation and connection with nature, Ben has a knack making a simple forest or slippery-slide appear lonesome and full of emotion. When location scouting, Ben looks for small scenes which can be blown out or made much larger than it really is. He’s also colourblind and shoots in natural light, keeping editing to a minimum.

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