Daniel Zenker is a graphic designer and photographer who we interviewed as part of our relaunch week a while ago. Daniel’s work caught our eye because interestingly, we could immediately see in his work a combination of graphic design and photography. His work is full of strong, clean lines that comes from the graphic design side; pairing this understanding of hows shapes and lines work well together with an enthusiasm for photography and travel has resulted in some simply beautiful landscape photography.
Please introduce yourself.
My name is Daniel Zenker and I’m a media designer and photography enthusiast, currently living and working in Marburg, Germany as a Junior Art Director.
How did you get into photography?
As a child I always liked taking pictures of family, friends and travel destinations, but my first “serious” approach to photography started when I was about 16 years old or so. My interest in art and photography had grown over the years and one day, by pure chance, I found my dads old analogue SLR in the basement – it just looked so cool that I had to use it and give it a try. After that I was addicted.
So what is it that draws you to photographing landscapes?
Even though I like to take pictures of people and have a spontaneous reaction with my camera to their spontaneous behaviour in everyday situations, landscapes give you time and serenity to find the right spot, the right angle. You’ve got more time to feel and experience the moment.
I am fascinated by the beauty of raw nature; deserted and surreal locations, for example lava fields, or impressive and breath-taking features like waterfalls.
I love your project Island – where was this shot? What were you trying to capture here?
I made these photographs during my two trips to Iceland in 2009 and 2012. There is no other landscape in the world that fascinates me more, so I tried to capture a glimpse of that magic; all those different colours, changing in minutes with the weather.
I see in this project you used both digital and film cameras. Where do you stand in the film vs digital debate?
For many years I’ve favoured the analogue way of taking photographs, but since an 8 week journey in 2012, I solely use my digital SLR mainly for two reasons: one, to not worry about how many photographs I can take, and two, so I can use my camera for business purposes (portrait or project shots) as well. My digital photographs are processed with VSCO filters—so you see my love for analogue has not faded.
Do you have a favourite image or a favourite project from your own work?
That’s hard to say. There are memories connected to each and every one of the pictures. I’d have to say that my photographs from Iceland and my long trip in 2012, where I visited the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Canada and New York City, are some of my favourites.
Where do you find your inspiration?
It may sound cheesy but my inspiration for landscape photography is the landscape itself. When it comes to urban landscapes, though, I’m definitely influenced or inspired by photographers like Tom Kondrat, Anne-Marie Arpin or Raphaël Bourelly.
I noticed that a lot of your compositions are very clean with lots of shapes and lines. As a graphic designer, do you find this different creative process comes out in your photography a lot?
It’s interesting that you mention this. I love simplicity and minimalism in design. Over the last years I tried — bit by bit — to bring this geometric and clean approach to my photography, and I’m constantly trying to simplify how I take a photograph.
You describe yourself as a “photography enthusiast”; are you planning to become professional, or would you like to keep photography as a hobby?
To use my camera when I want to and not when I have to is what has kept me motivated over the years. I definitely would prefer to keep it as a hobby regarding landscape or urban photography, yet I’m eager to become more professional in terms of taking on studio-based commissions.
So what’s next? What projects do you have planned for the future?
I’m currently on a five month trip around the world with my girlfriend, travelling to South America, the United States and Indonesia. The camera of choice for this journey is my digital SLR, but when I return to Germany I’d love to get back to using my film camera.