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Toby Zeng: CA 987

Born in 1988, Beijing, China.


Born and raised in Beijing, Toby Zeng moved to a boarding school located in California in a small town called Ojai at the age of 14. His passion for photography started to blossom during his sophomore year when he began taking photos with his iPhone. Four years later, Toby acquired a professional camera in order to shoot projects rather than taking random photos. The experience of being an international student switching between different visual atmospheres in China and the US has had a great impact on Toby’s photographic style. In CA 987 (2020), Toby combines the visual differences in those two places in order to portray his cross-continental perspective. CA 987 is the Air China flight number frequently used when Toby travelled back and forth between Beijing and Los Angeles.

Later on, he was able to continue with his passion and went on to study photography at Bard College in Upstate New York where he got the opportunity to further explore his craft and build areas to fit himself into. After spending time away studying abroad, he is now based back in China where he is focusing on commissions and personal projects. His current area of interest is in contemporary photography of urban space and the human body shot through a focus on composition and color, using it as a means of looking at the world differently. The materiality of his work is rooted in the contemporary perception of natural space combined with the photographic medium of stylized landscapes. The pieces he creates address everyday experiences in a multitude of forms, from urban environments to portraiture; calling into notice the beauty, physical concentration, and our relationship to what is familiar. Toby uses the language of photography to challenge the methods and assumptions of our interactions with the everyday. His work has been exhibited at Body Memory, Beijing, OOOOT Small Place 798, Beijing, Porch Gallery Generation ART Student Exhibition, Ojai, USA, and Jiazazhi Photobook Library 3/100, Ningbo, China.

Click here to follow Toby Zeng on Instagram.

Edited by Martin Wendelbo