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This way I can truly convey what it is my heart feels, in its most raw and pure form

The body. The vehicle in which you live you life in. Full of complex unique and beautiful components. Californian-native Toby Zeng, focuses on capturing the essence of the human form. With his aptly-titles zine “Minimal Body”, he gives viewers perspective by surprising them with small and unobtrusive sights of the human body.

'Amazing texture on the hair'

'Love how his hands are hiding from the camera'

Hello Toby, thanks for being part of this interview! Can you share with us a little bit about yourself and what you’re busy with at the moment. What are your thoughts of zines in this day & age?

Compare to photo books, zines are not that expensive to make. It’s great for a beginner like myself.

Why human bodies?

I was inspired by how the human body was captured in the fashion world. When I go to the mall you see those commercial photos, the model’s face is always the most interesting object in the frame. We assumed that our body lives under our identity and it’s not supposed to be in the frame be its own individual entity, not shackled by the mind’s image. So I recontextualize the human body and capture the individual components. I want to present a different way to observe the beauty of the body.

Artist’s Statement - “Minimal Body” is a study of the human form using color, shape, composition, and light. Rather than focusing on the entire body, Toby chooses to pay attention to the small details that often go unnoticed. Using the camera and the frame, Toby recontextualizes the human body and captures individual components. By doing this, his photos surprise the viewers by presenting a different way to observe the beauty of the body. Toby’s goal is to highlight and preserve the small and unobtrusive sight of the human body.

What was your thought process picking out the photos in ‘Minimal Body’?

Because the context around the segments of human bodies gives them identities, it makes them become individuals. By doing this, I’m not thinking too much about the person and more about just finding the true natural state of that person’s body. This way I can truly convey what it is my heart feels, in its most raw and pure form. It makes the photo exotic and distinct. It is what makes you want to review the picture again, so the second time it doesn’t feel dull, it feels exciting and mysterious.

If you could tie one emotion to human bodies, what would that be and why?

Joy and happiness. Not really sure why.

'Almost everyone told me this image is their favorite in the project. You may wonder what's on his back? I don't even know the answer, I found those amazing objects from my friend's dorm and decided to photograph them. It works pretty well I guess.'

'The body becomes a part of nature'

Where are you currently based?

Bard College, New York. Studying photography.

What is your current photographic work about?

Not working on a project , just taking photos of small details from my daily life.

'Really weird composition'

What got you interested in photography and taking images?

My first photo teacher C M Hutchinson. My passion for photography started to blossom during my sophomore year in high school when I began taking photos with my iPhone.

Who are you inspired by?

C M Hutchinson

Stephen Shore

Ren Hang

What are your future aspirations?

Despite the fact that I do have lots of ambitions, I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself at such a young age. I will say: enjoy the process.

What advice would you recommend to young photographers today?

First of all, I am a young photographer. I would tell my generation to enjoy the process, don’t overthink about the future. Work hard!!!!!!

Instagram: @tobyseeingthings


Souher Wahba for Your Local Newsstand

Photography by Toby Zeng

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