We recently became familiar with the work of the talented 29-years-old California-based photographer Shona Sanzgiri. Before Sanzgiri put his focus on photography he was writing, dreaming to become a fiction writer, but soon found out he was better suited for journalism —specifically arts and culture reporting— with some of his work published in GQ, Interview, Bookforum, the Paris Review and the Los Angeles Review of Books. Despite the success in his journalistic endeavors he never lost his sincere interest in photography, which had fascinated him since he was a child, but at the same time intimidated him because of the technical side that comes with the craft. Despite these objections some years ago he bought his first SLR, and what was meant to happen happened: he was hooked. Influential thinkers and writers like Susan Sontag, John Berger, Geoff Dyer and Teju Cole have written hypnotically about how photography and writing are both ways to create images, which comforted Sanzgiri as he made the switch from pen to lens, creating warm images by using natural light mostly at sunrise or sunset, clearly inspired by the great street photographers and reminding us of the beautiful work of Phillip Kalantzi-Scope.
As a society, we’re more self-aware than ever. I feel like an asshole trying to ascribe social theory to my photos, but I’d be lying if I pretended not to care. The crux of social media is aspirational and a little pathetic, and I think we need to be vigilant. I like art that’s pretty and vague and designed for Tumblr, but the best stuff has the faintest hint of the political.
Some of the favorite scenes that inspire Sanzgiri for his art and life in general, either from films, novels or even reporting, are the moments and details in between the main event: small talk, casual glances and interpersonal tension. Having studied semiotics during his studies at San Jose State University with a major in Advertising/Communications, after which he briefly worked in advertising, the photographer is very aware of how symbols shape our hyper-visual modern public space, giving him a sharp perspective from which he shoots his frames.
I like what Joel Meyerowitz—who was himself cribbing from Henri Cartier-Bresson—said about how photography’s fundamentally a “positive” or “life affirming” art. That every time you take a picture, you’re consciously saying “yes!” to that moment. Even though I’m a little cynical and guarded, I love that way of thinking.
We look forward to more beautiful work by the talented photographer.
For more work by Shona Sanzgiri see here.