About Zackary Canepari
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”.
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.