Zeno Petersen’s photography offers an original and personal view of the city

Local cinematographer Zeno Petersen is one of the featured photographers in Liberty’s awe-inspiring Igerbook. Zeno got his start in photography through Instagram which has garnered him an impressive following. 

His images, heavily inspired by the city of Johannesburg, are carefully composed and always emotive. The artist uses Johannesburg’s dazzling naturescapes and cityscapes – from Emmerentia botanical garden to the bustling streets of the Central Business District – as background for his subjects. Moody portraits, sunsets and skylines are plentiful throughout his feed. 

Here’s what Zeno has to say on what inspires him.

Tell us a bit about yourself and your relationship to photography?

I’m a South African cinematographer. I’ve been in the film industry for the last 15 years, shooting TV dramas and music videos and a couple of feature films. I fell in love with photography later in my career and it’s become my hobby, my first love, the way I express myself and help inspire others that love the art of photography. It’s been a journey of self discovery and a way to connect with others. Photography has given me the gift of inspiration. 

How has Instagram changed your relationship with photography? 

Instagram is probably the only reason I fell in love with photography and how powerful it can be in the hands of creative people. Seeing so many people drawn to this tool, this app and making new friends and being able to inspire others really means a lot. I’ve used it to teach and show younger kids that anything is possible. It made me realise that I can use a single photo to tell a story, make people connect and feel emotions with one post. 

What informs or influences your aesthetic or style of photography? 

People, emotions and connections. I love shooting portraits in beautiful spaces. My city influences me and the people that surround me. I search for light and shadows and the combination of all those things creates my style.

 

Which places in the city have been your favourite shooting sites so far and why? 

I love nature and I’m drawn to the shadowy side of town and its textures. Nature and people have this beautiful connection and I love to create in such spaces. My favorites have to be Emmarentia dam nature reserve and downtown Johannesburg. Other than that it’s places outside the city like Clarens with its amazing mountains and views . 

How important is it to you to feature a human subject in your photographs?

Very important, I find it so difficult to photograph landscapes without a human element in them. I love nature and landscapes but I always need that person in my frame to connect with. For me it’s all about telling that human story and making that human connection.

 

Describe an ideal day of shooting around the city? 

Get up early for sunrise – a good cup of coffee is a must. Scouting beautiful places around the city or nature reserves with friends and taking photos for a couple of hours. After that, sitting down for a good breakfast and reviewing all the photos you took over another cup of coffee. Perfect. 

You can get your own copy of the Igerbook here.

Check out more Igerbook photographers over here

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