PDN Photo of the Day

Go West, Young Man

Earlier this summer, Canadian-based photographer, Kyler Zeleny, released the monograph, “Out West“, which documents rural communities in the Canadian west. Zeleny visited and photographed more than one hundred towns with populations between six and 1,000 for the project. The project was originally developed for his masters dissertation (in Sociology), combining writings and images from his first 5-week road trip in 2012. Encouraged by an instructor, Zeleny continued the project and did a second five-week road trip in 2013. “I grew up in one of these small dinky communities… or rather I grew up on a farm near one of these small Canadian communities,” Zeleny told PDN via email. “So ‘Out West’ is also a very personal project for me. I wanted to revisit these areas as much for myself as for others.” Zeleny used a Yashica 124G. He says the square format proved to be challenging in “notoriously flat places like the Canadian Prairies.” The images have no official titles. Instead, Zeleny wanted to only include the population recorded at the time he made the photograph. 

The book, a limited edition of 500, is Zeleny’s first monograph, published by The Velvet Cell, a London-based publisher focusing on photo-based limited. Zeleny had an existing relationship with the publisher’s founder, but had not planned on working with him. “To be honest, it was a pride thing. I felt doing it with him was too easy, or he was doing it because he knew me. I wanted more validation from the work.” At a certain point Zeleny realized it made sense to publish with a small publishing house, like The Velvet Cell, thinking he’d have more input in the design, format, layout and text. “He gave me a lot of freedom in how we could do it.” 

Inspired by “Out West,” Zeleny is currently working on a project that questions the interest in photographing the American West versus the lack of image makers focusing on Western Canada.

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