Ogden, as seen through the lens of local photographer Benjamin Zack, is documented in a series of images currently on display that highlight “a day in the life” of people in the community.
Eleven photographs printed on 8x12 banners and hung on buildings around downtown and central Ogden are part of Zack’s “Eyes on Ogden” project, largely funded by a grant from Ogden City Arts, in which he aims to get photography back out into the “real world” and share the everyday neighborhood stories.
“Something is missed when people only see photos on the 2-inch screen of their phones,” Zack said. The large photographs, located between 29th and 22nd streets from Lincoln to Monroe, engage viewers and inspire reflection on the quiet day-to-day moments of Ogden life.
“It’s to celebrate the people of Ogden,” said Zack, an award-winning photojournalist and professional photographer for over a decade, who sought images for the project that aren’t “hard news” but, rather, speak to the culture of the community.
All the photos for the “Eyes on Ogden” project were taken from July 2020 through this spring, during the COVID-19 pandemic when few events were happening. Some of the selected photos were taken at Pioneer Day, a skateboarding competition by The Rose Club, Foley’s Boxing Gym, Ice Breaker Rodeo and Dia De Los Muertos. But Zack spent most of his time capturing daily moments in community gardens, parks and people’s yards.
A former church is one of the spots that first inspired Zack to do the project, where two of the photos are now displayed. In one of them, Kulwant Singh reads a bible on a park bench at the Oasis Community Garden on Aug. 22, 2020. “Singh says that he comes to the bench to read every day while his son is working at the 7-Eleven across the street,” Zack wrote in an Instagram post.
In another photo, a man identified as Stevie G. hits golf balls around West Ogden Park on Oct. 21, 2020. Zack wrote: “Stevie and his neighbor, Ricky, regularly golf in the park as a way to stay busy, stay clean and ‘avoid the zombies.’ That is their term for the people they know who are still using drugs. Ricky and Stevie both learned to golf at Ogden City Recreation classes held at the park when they were younger. The park is relatively small and not designed for golf, so they often drive balls over the fence, but they also know the neighbors and have an easy time retrieving most of the lost balls.”
One of the photos narrowly escaped damage from the downtown fire that destroyed a partially constructed four-story apartment complex and several homes and businesses on June 28.
Zack had hung the banner on the My Mechanic building on 28th Street between Grant and Washington that afternoon, and later shared on Instagram, “Unbelievably, this photo is still up and unharmed despite the fire literally destroying everything just inches away,” thanking Steve at My Mechanic, whose roof and offices caught fire. “I hope they’re able to get back on their feet soon,” he wrote.
Zack thanks all of the business for allowing the photos to be displayed on their buildings, and for Ogden City Arts for making the project possible with a grant.
The outdoor photo exhibit will continue throughout summer. Follow Benjamin Zack on Instagram @benjszack for project updates and details.