“My main focus with my work is documenting a fleeting moment of unfamiliarity, of abandon,” photographer Chiara Zonca tells It’s Nice That of her dream-like, otherworldly images of landscapes. “I like to go to solitary places and let my mind loose… to become [the environment] in a way.”
Chiara’s photographs transcend space and time, they are earthly yet have a sense of having been captured on another planet. To delve into her images is to escape into a mesmerising new reality, or, to wake up to appreciating the detail in our surroundings.
Having studied analogue photography at university, Chiara went on to work as a video editor and motion designer, letting her photography work fall by the wayside. Her reimmersion into the medium came from the simple wish to document new travels and rapidly developed into an all-consuming love and infatuation with the sense of freedom and space that photographing these barren yet visually rich landscapes allowed her.
“When I first started taking photos I was just documenting the beautiful places I was visiting around the world,” explains Chiara. “Slowly I started noticing those remote places were, in fact, changing me. It suddenly became more interested to understand personally what I was feeling and why it was so intense in remote places with no other people in sight.”
“It’s similar to dreams," Chiara muses. “Dreams take information from real life events and experiences but the information gets re-wired into a new narrative.” Though she does not feature people in her work on the whole, there is a clear thread running through her photographs of her personal relationship with her surroundings, which for the viewer can call into question our relationship to the scenes we inhabit.
Needless to say, Chiara’s process is not as cut and stick as location hunting and shooting. It is instead a largely intuitive series of “researching what [she] wants to photograph and making decisions on textures and the topography of the area and its isolation.” Utilising a mood board building on from this research and spending solo exploratory time in her destinations Chiara collects all the information and personal intuition required to create her dusky, texture-rich, spacious landscape imagery. “I shoot both on analogue and digital,” says Chiara. “I like to play with nature’s colours through grading and adjust them until they match with my vision — sometimes the changes are subtle, at other times more extreme.”
Whilst Chiara’s main focus until now has been the evocative landscapes themselves, this may soon be set to change as Chiara embarks on an experimental self-portrait series where she plans to document her personal interaction with these expansive earthly scenes. “It might never see the light of day,” she explains. “Or, it just might be the work I am most proud of.”