"I love being a photographer. I love going out shooting and finding weird events and things that I wouldn’t go and do otherwise. This camera is my ticket. "
A self-described specialist in documentary-editorial-portrait-commercial-journalism-reportage, California-based photographer Zackary Canepari brings a fresh zest to Sony Global Imaging Ambassadors. Covering all things from the superheroes on L.A.'s Hollywood Boulevard to the new dance sweeping the favellas in Brazil, Zackary's images are bound to impress.
Zackary joins us from Panos Pictures agency, a documentary photography agency based in London, UK. As a Global Ambassador, Zackary's developed SIDEWAYZ, PASSINHO!, Tudo Bom?! and #FutureofCities: Made in Bangkok with the compact RX1 and α7R.
Browse his image gallery, read our interview, and be sure to engage with him across all his social networks. This photographer is not to be missed.
About / Biography
Zackary Canepari is one of our original Global Ambassadors and a member of Panos Pictures. Born in 1979 in Boston, Massachusetts, Zack is an photographer and filmmaker specializing in documentary projects. After studying photography in Paris and San Francisco, he moved to New Delhi and worked as a photojournalist from 2007 to 2009. As a photographer, his work has taken him to India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Mexico, China, Brazil, Eastern Europe, and Nigeria for a number of clients, including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and Time magazine. In 2009, Zack teamed up with filmmaker Drea Cooper and created "California Is A Place," a series of short documentary films about California. The films were screened at a number of international festivals, including Sundance and IDFA. He is currently based in Northern California and in the process of completing his first feature documentary film titled “T-Rex”.
Commissions / Image Galleries
The exurban and suburban zones are nearly as dense as the city center. Old and new structures compete for skyline. Some resemble robots. Some remain unfinished. The elevated Skytrain connects them all. Down below the infrastructure sags. Congestion edging towards permanent gridlock. Most people wear hospital masks on the street, pulling them aside to slurp noodles or smoke a cigarette. The air is thick with humidity, sweat, smog, sex. Inside, everything is Megamall. Climate controlled consumption. Medical tourism. Sex tourism. Drug tourism. Displays telling you how to look and how to feel. Massive electronic billboards everywhere. Written in Thai, Chinese, English, Neon. Screens above and screens below. Reflections everywhere. Personalized. Customized. Individualized. Food. Fashion. Eye color. Politics. Products. Sex. Gender. One third male. One third female. One third hybrid. Everyone is plugged in to something. Artificial realities. Globalized Realities. Ultimately, it’s all now Thai. This is Bangkok in a time of extremes.
This summer Brazil hosted the mother of all sporting events. The World Cup. A Copa do Mundo. 12 cities stretched across 4000 miles played host to matches and festivities and throngs and throngs of fútbol fans. And with the Olympics next in line, this was the beginning of Brazil’s global moment. Starting on June 13th, Zackary road-tripped from the south to the north. São Paulo. Rio de Janeiro. Belo Horizante. Salvador. Natal. Recife. Fortaleza. And then back to Rio in time for the final match on July 13th. Everyday new images from the road. Photos and videos. A visual diary of the trip, from end to end. Some of it planned and some spontaneous. This project isn’t really about football or the World Cup. It’s about a place and its people and capturing the energy of a country on the move.
Donuts and Ghost Rides. Boxes and Buckets. Cools and Stangs. It all started in the Bay Area back in the 90's. Deep in East Oakland, they'd meet in empty parking lots and spin circles until the police came. The Sideshow, they called it.
Elaborate and boisterous stunt driving. Back then, it was about the cars more than the skill of the drivers, but the goal was still the same. It was about making a statement. A loud and smoky announcement to the status quo. And the message was simple. "All eyes on me!" For inner-city youth from one of the country’s most dangerous neighborhoods, it was an important thing to say. They were heard, and they were nearly shut down. For a while, the city and the police thought they had a handle on the Sideshows, but now they're back and louder than ever.
If you Google "Oakland Sideshows" you're most likely going to find articles about shootings or accidents, but for the participants, it's a hobby. An activity that keeps them away from other, more nefarious activities. For them, the Sideshow is their safe zone. It’s a place where you show up and show off. And when the cops show up, you drive off to the next spot, where you do it all over again...
Passinho is a new dance mixing traditional and contemporary styles that is storming the favelas of Rio de Janeiro. Limber youths take it in turn to display their lightening footwork and powerful body moves mixing dance styles from funk to samba, freestyle and frevo. Born out of Rio’s Zona Norte in 2007, passinho, which means ‘little step’, is captivating the clubs and dances throughout the city’s favelas. This "Bailando" took place in Rocinha, the largest favela in Rio.
Describe the moment when photography changed your life.
I have more than one answer to this question, since photography has been doing this to me since day one. So I guess I better start with day one. When I was 20, there was this guy in New Orleans who wanted to photograph my girlfriend naked. It was creepy, but I was mostly okay with it because he was actually a pretty good photographer. Besides naked girls, he also liked shooting in abandoned buildings. I think he felt guilty for being slightly "pervy" with my lady, so he took me with him to assist. Anyway, there we were in this crazy old empty apartment complex. All these old photographs and trinkets and things left behind by the last tenants were scattered everywhere. It was a time capsule and he was photographing it all, making art out of it. Plus, there were these two anarchists squatting there that he also photographed, and I thought to myself: "Wow, there is this entire other world that I know nothing about because I have no reason to explore it. Photography is the coolest!" That’s when I started shooting.
Describe what kind of photographer you consider yourself to be.
I have no idea. I've never really considered myself a photojournalist. I'm not exactly an editorial photographer. No one ever calls me an art photographer, either. I suppose documentary is my bread and butter. And street photography is where I started. So somewhere in between those two, I suppose.
If you had one word to describe your work, what would that be?
What is the most important photograph or body of work you have worked on to date?
Well, most people know me from "California Is A Place," but I think I really understood what kind of projects I liked working on from the Kathputli story that I made in India. First, it challenged me to make better and better pictures. It's hard to make a good picture, and sometimes you need to keep working a place until the elements come together. Sometimes, it never happens and you need to walk away. And second, it taught me what type of stories I'm interested in.
Give us your top three "must-do" photo assignments or personal projects you want to someday shoot.
Ha! Weird question. My dream photo assignment...hmm. I always wanted to photograph the synchronized dancing greasers in Japan. Also, the Sapeurs in the DRC. I think North Korea and I would get along famously, and the Arctic Circle is pretty much the strangest place I have ever seen...
What do you think about the Global Imaging Ambassadors program?
So far, the program has been great. Not only do I feel well supported, but I've also been given a lot of creative freedom to make the kind of photographs that I want to make.
What is your favorite feature about the Sony RX1 or other Sony products you have used?
That’s easy. The RX1 is silent and tiny -- the two greatest qualities a street photographer could hope for.
KitSony a7RIISony Flash HVL-F43AMDomke camera bagManfrotto TripodManfrotto monopod 562B-1Zoom H4n recorderPearson rechargeable batteries