Sam Ziff Contrasts Silhouettes Against the Dazzling, Colorful World

All images by Sam Ziff. Used with permission.

My name is Sam Ziff. I’m a 17-year-old trying to work my way into the photography industry. I was wondering if you could take a look at some of my work for the phoblographer. So my interest in photography started when I got my first smartphone a few years ago, in about 2016. Whenever I was outside, I’d love to go off exploring and taking snaps of just about everything I saw, with no regard for composition, lighting subject, etc. Now I realize that this is just about the purest form of photography (in my opinion). 

So around 2017/2018, my cousin Toby who’s about 10 years older than me, started getting into street photography. He built up a decent-sized following on Instagram, which really opened my eyes to what would be possible. From then on, every time I was with him, I would ask questions and get feedback on everything I did. I mean everything. He eventually gave me some names of photographers and cheap beginner cameras I should look into, and I was on my way. 

So the first real camera I used was my dad’s 35mm Canon eos 500. Having almost no idea about film, I went into my local snappy snaps and asked for any film that would work with this camera. Off I went with it set on fully automatic, and I snapped everything that took my eye. The lens was a simple 35mm, although I couldn’t tell you anything else about it as all the info has rubbed off after 20 odd years of use. 

To this day, I still carry around dad’s old SLR as my main camera, although I have now received another old 28mm lens from my Grandad. I also carry around a Yashica T4 when I’m not explicitly shooting. I am also currently waiting for my Ricoh Gr II to arrive as I had been saving up for that for a while just to improve my digital skills. I think the sentiment behind carrying around dad’s old camera is something quite special and unique to me. I like to think it’s almost as if I’m looking through the world through his point of view. Assuming I have kids one day, I might even need to add my own part to the camera (maybe a flash so it’ll have a piece handed down from every generation). 

Photography now, to me, is a sort of meditation. It’s an excuse to go out and explore different areas of London. Recently I have been meditating, and after reading a book by Steve McCurry, I now know how similar the two practices of photography and Buddhism are. It’s about being completely engaged with your surroundings and taking into account as much detail as you can about the environment that you are in. 

I am a sucker for evening light during my photo walks, although I have been forcing myself up recently at the crack of dawn. I find that natural light, for me personally, is something that can’t be replicated using electricity. Another reason why I prefer the natural light is simply that my style is more street, less studio-based. While looking for a frame, I think I am still trying to force my brain into spotting certain things. For example, if I tell myself to be on the lookout for something brightly colored. I believe that if I go out, shoot and practice doing it enough, then it will become subconscious, so I won’t have to think about it. I also try to imagine my vision is either zoomed in or far out. This helps me spot any tiny details I might want to shoot or alternatively allows me to capture a larger view of the scene, including the background. 

Recently, my work has been focused on the one thing anyone can think about – the pandemic. I’ve been trying to document the closure of local businesses and how it will artistically affect them. I also have been taking odd photos of people coming outside to celebrate the lifting of restrictions. 

Anyways I highly doubt any of it will interest you. However, I would appreciate it greatly if you could just have a quick look and let me know what you think. 

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