Tobias Zielony became known for his photographs showing marginalized young people in disadvantaged urban areas – images of youths hanging around and waiting. Socially disadvantaged people and subcultures not perceived by the mainstream were a topic that had already interested Zielony during his studies in the industrial city of Newport, a cradle of British documentary photography. His photographs are portraits in the broadest sense, but they also have an element of the ethnological idea of participating observation.
He spends a lot of time with the people he photographs, he wins their trust, takes an interest in them. The intimacy he creates and the resultant images evoke the work of Nan Goldin, Larry Clark or early Wolfgang Tillmans. Where Zielony differs, however, is that he immerses himself within new communities rather than his own, and therefore knows there will always be an end to his experiences. He spends a lot of time with the people he photographs, he wins their trust, has an interest in them. Driven by curiosity and solidarity with his protagonists, his pictures always keep a tension between closeness and distance, an undistorted view of truth and fiction, staging and spontaneity.