Short profile

Chiara Zonca was born in Milan in 1982 and studied photography at the Istituto Europeo di Design. Through her photography, she presents a connection between her emotions and the environment. Her landscape photographs show the earth as a dream landscape untouched by humans, into which she can project her narratives.

Her work has been exhibited in Sydney, New York, Zurich, Los Angeles, and London and has appeared in numerous magazines and photography books. She currently lives in Vancouver, Canada.

In this interview with WhiteWall, she describes how she rediscovered photography as a form of expression, the role her dreams play in her work, and why she needs nature for her mental health.

Portrait of Chiara Zonca.


Can you tell us a little bit about how you became a photographer?

I became a photographer as a way to instantly document my travels. My lifestyle was very different back then, I was living in a city, working full time as a motion designer and craving adventure and wild places. I was trying to get out in nature at every chance I got, completely burned out by the concrete jungle I called home.

Photography became this perfect companion documenting all those incredible experiences and, in return, it became the medium through which I found myself. It turns out I don’t function very well in an urban environment and photography was literally the medium that revealed this to me and triggered my relocation from urban to rural. I now live in closer connection to nature, somewhere that allows me to explore my inner self more effectively and expand my practice.

Wall showing Chiara Zonca´s art.

Photo: Chiara Zonca

Please share something about your images (what is your special interest, how do you choose the colors, composition, themes  etc.).

Ha, I always like to say that I don’t chose a place, it’s the place that choses me! I don’t really know if there’s a method to the madness truly, all I know is that I am drawn to places that feel very open, infinite almost. Where human presence is barely felt, where time seems to stop altogether. I also like the idea that there is nothing modern about my photos, they could have been taken at any point in time. Colour wise I am now mostly shooting film for the richness of colours. And when I don’t, I still try to colour grade my digital files to be as close to film as possible.

Wall showing Chiara Zonca´s art.

Photo: Chiara Zonca

Where does this interest come from?

Escapism. Sometimes I chose to be in a place because it allows me to escape my problems you know, for a little while, to get out of my head and be at one with the landscape. Similar to floating in a lucid dream, those places help with escaping yourself and projecting outwards. It’s almost like meditation. I love documenting that switch and, when it happens, I feel like I could live in that photograph forever.

Wall showing Chiara Zonca´s art.

Photo: Chiara Zonca

How do you get inspired? And what inspires you the most? Films, books or magazines? Or what surrounds you?

Definitely what surrounds me. Sometimes dreams. I can have pretty amazing dreams where I mix up places I have been to altogether creating odd and inspiring combinations. And of course movies from the 70s and 80s are still a huge inspiration, back to when they still shot on film and colours were great.

What are your plans for the rest of the day?

Taking a walk in nature. I have been working on a new body of work called "Saved by a deer", this time closer to home, exploring the beneficial effect nature has on my mental health so I guess that’s what I will be doing later today. 

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