Jeepney Riders by Zak Dunn

The Philippines is home to the third largest catholic population in the world and they stand out for their devotional fervour. Filipino Catholicism is unusually material and is celebrated in a variety of forms and rituals. During my visit to the Philippines I became interested in folk catholicism and material religion. ‘Jeepney Riders’ examines the interaction between religion and material culture in the Philippines by photographing a family on a spiritual road trip to a holy church, where they celebrate the blessing of their new passenger Jeep.


Name, occupation / What you do for a living? / What you do creatively? 

Hi, My name is Zak Dunn. I work for a transport engineering company, basically moving big things around for big people. Aside from that I like to take photos and print them also.


Where do you live at the moment? / Where do you call home? / Where do you dream to live?

When I’m not away working I live in Melbourne, but at the moment I’m dreaming of somewhere warmer. 


What is it that interests you about photography?

I’ve always been interested in photography, print and film. As a kid I used to take loads of polaroids because my parents had an account at the local photo lab. I was hooning through that film. Eventually they realised and kicked my ass for maxing out their account. When I grew up and stopped being so trigger happy I started to appreciate the way photography can be used to see an unseen world. I guess social documentary photography and photojournalism are what interest me most because they demand that the work is both honest and impartial whilst telling a story. 


What are you working on at the moment ?

I’ve just finished up a photo series and small book called ‘Jeepney Riders’. I shot the photos late last year but the zine has been a slow burner because I’ve been away a lot since then.


What was the inspiration behind this project ?

The inspiration came about in December last year whilst I was working in Northern Arctic Russia with that transport company. I was nearing the end of a month long shift, sitting in a frozen shipping container drinking coffee with my colleague Jessie. We hadn’t seen the sun in a month and we were discussing our vacation plans. Jessie is a Filipino from Manila and he was psyched because the newest addition to his family was going to be blessed. Not a human but a passenger jeep or jeepney as they call them. Jeepneys were originally constructed from U.S military Jeeps left over from World War 2. They are known for their crowded seating and kitsch decorations, which have become a ubiquitous symbol of Philippine culture. The Filipino’s are a religious bunch with the third largest Catholic population in the world and while travelling there I became interested in their devotional fervour and the unusual rituals that go on. One such ritual is car blessing. ‘Jeepney Riders’ explores the interaction between material religion and Philippine culture by documenting a family’s spiritual road trip through Central Luzon to a holy church, where the blessing takes place. The series is shot in both digital and medium format film. I made the zine as a type of visual journey to complement the series.


Who’s work are you inspired by ?

For this particular project I was inspired by Alys Tomilson’s Ex-Voto. Her stuff is pretty amazing.


Who’s instagram is your favorite at the moment ?

Instagrams… ahh, lately I’ve been liking suffomoncloathomas.vandenbergheharleyweir.

Photography by Zak Dunn

Purchase a copy of Zaks publication “Jeepney Riders” HERE 



Vampir magazine is an online platform, focusing on the creative works of people from Eastern Europe and Australia + NZ.

Establishing a creative connection between these two worlds, Vampir discovers similarities and promotes up and coming artists from both the East and West.