Recently, Dorian Warneck left a few copies of his self-published photography zine, titled Neighbors, at a handful of local shops. The inside front cover of the first issue provides the project's mission statement: "Neighbors has no mission and aims to make no statement." Warneck means it; even the title just sort of happened. "The first couple shots were in my neighborhood, and I started calling the series #Neighbors on Instagram. It just kind of turned into the zine."
Aside from the title on the cover, and "January 2015" printed on the back, the mission statement comprises the extent of the text accompanying Neighbors' 22 pages of black-and-white photography, with one photo presented per page. While there might not be a mission or a statement, Warneck went to the trouble of paying the production costs of the zine's 100 copies, most of which were left for people to pick up, free of charge, at local spots such as Redux, Blue Bicycle Books, and City Lights Coffee.
While Warneck, who works at local creative house Lunch and Recess, is proud of Neighbors, and plans to continue publishing, there's clearly no larger purpose or master plan. "I like zines," he says, matter-of-factly, when asked to describe his motivation to start publishing one of his own. "I like picking up zines that other people make." He cites "street photographer power couple" Ed and Deanna Templeton as inspirations, and gives a shout-out to Columbia art/culture zine Caravan as another favorite. While he's pleased to make his own contribution to zine culture, Warneck also uses the expectation of another issue as motivation to keep honing his eye as a photographer. "I'm shooting the photos whether I do the zine or not," he says, "So to have an outlet is cool. I've never been good at writing, so this was a way to just have it be photos, and just not say anything about them."
- Dorian Warneck
- Dorian Warneck's photos are snapshots of daily life in Charleston's neighborhoods
He leafs through Neighbors, describing individual photos. "This is on my street," he says, stopping at the image of a man dragging a trash can into his yard from the curb. The next page, Warneck says, "is the guy that's renovating the house next door." Addressing the subject matter he chose, he says, "It's mostly Charleston, since that's where I am most of the time, but it's also San Francisco," where Warneck snapped one of the photos while on vacation with his girlfriend. "You could say 'everybody's neighbors,' but I try not to think too much about it."
While Warneck might not have given much thought to the title he chose for his zine, he clearly pays attention to his subject matter, much of which he remembers in vivid detail. "The photo on the cover was the first photo I shot that made me realize how much I like shooting people on film. I'm not sure it does the photo justice, because it was shot in color and he's wearing this bright yellow rain jacket and you can see in the background it's that Charleston flood you get any time it rains."
Warneck shot all the photographs in the zine on 35mm film, and credits the process of shooting on film with improving his eye as a photographer. "The less predictable nature of it, and the reward when I see something come out," he says, "you don't get with digital. I feel like the minute I picked up this camera and shot the first couple rolls, I became a better filmmaker and photographer. I started looking at light way more, because I knew every frame was going to cost me money."
- Dorian Warneck
Pointing out another photograph, of a man sleeping behind a table laid out with clothing for sale, Warneck says, "This guy's asleep. I didn't ask for permission." The photo was taken at the Ladson Flea Market, which, Warneck says, "is where I got the 35mm camera that got me into [shooting on film] about six or seven months ago. I love shooting there. Ladson Flea Market, in my opinion, is the most diverse place in Charleston. It's weird, but in a good way. More of a New York feeling. There's all this culture in one place, coexisting."
While there are no more copies of the first issue available, and Warneck doesn't have a firm release schedule in place, he does plan to continue printing the zine as long as he's interested in it and can scrape together the money. He's not certain of the direction Neighbors will end up taking, but he has faith, he says, that "things will work themselves out."
You can order a copy of Neighbors on Etsy.