Through the lens of Chiara Zonca

Seeking connections and feelings in isolated spaces

Photos—Chiara Zonca

Chiara Zonca is a fine art photographer based in Western Canada. She is interested in portraying a connection between her feelings and her surroundings. Seeking isolated spaces as explorations of self, she documents moments in time when solitude alters the landscape of her perception.

What sparked your interest in photography?

The desire for freedom. I was living in London, feeling trapped in a lifestyle I chose in my twenties, which was starting to feel suffocating. I craved travel and isolation and photography became the outlet to document these new experiences I was living.

A selection from my series Moon Kingdom, describing my surreal experience of loneliness in the Chilean and Bolivian altiplano


What photograph or photographer has had the greatest influence on you?

Richard Misrach hands down. His view of the American West and the way he conveyed  feelings of isolation and absence of time have really stuck with me. His colours are some of the best I have ever seen and I quite literally want to live in his photos.

How would you describe your work, and how has it evolved since you started out?

My work is about the human connection with Mother Earth and how it manifests through dreams, memories, hallucinations. It also revolves around the concept of time and how its passage cannot be perceived when we’re completely isolated in the wilderness. It has a nostalgic quality to it; I am always trying to capture something that has been lost and I yearn for.

What do you seek to capture in the subjects you choose?

I would like my photography to represent what goes on in someone’s head when they are dreaming: their deepest and darkest secrets.

If the subject is a landscape, I usually try to capture my experience of it, a snapshot of my own emotions, being there.

From Magma, a body of work about how the volcanic eruptions of the 18th century shaped the topography of Lanzarote forever, in the Canary Islands


Is there a specific story or place that sticks with you?

The story of my newest series, She Moves While Earth Sleeps, mainly because it’s an open project and I haven’t had the chance to work on it at all this year. It’s the story of a woman that walks in her sleep. In her real life she’s trapped, perhaps by an abusive relationship, a boring job, or just loneliness. But when she sleeps she is free, she wanders, she relinquishes control. The series has this nostalgic Southern California 1970 vibe to it, I truly miss being immersed in that world. I cannot wait to go back to shooting it.

What would you like to communicate to the people looking at your photos?

That it’s ok to escape reality. To go a little crazy and go run barefoot in nature. That connection to nature is real, each and every one of us has it. If I can awake it from within the viewer that will be the most incredible feeling ever.

It Devours, a delicate tale of the two sides of nature: at once nurturing and dangerous


What are you working on at the moment?

Covid-19 disrupted everything. Right now I’m self isolating at home, and am lucky enough to live in a beautiful place, on a pristine island off the coast of BC. Access to nature is everything to me and I feel incredibly fortunate to be able to walk in the woods or catch a glimpse of the sea through the trees. I am currently pushing myself to create new work about my experience with these sudden changes in life: to keep positive, to have something to think about, creatively speaking.

Vues époustouflantes du lac de Pátzcuaro, dans l’État mexicain du Michoacán

Is there a particular cause you’d like to tell us about? An organization close to your heart?

Yes, I am part of an incredible photo book called “Not Me, Us,” a collective project created by Benjamin Lieber and Eric Soucy featuring the works of incredible artists I admire. 100% of the money raised from this book will be donated to One Fair Wage in support of victims and people affected by Covid-19.

Exploring the Namibian coastline on 35mm film


What 3 Instagram accounts inspire you the most?

1- @newyorkerphoto
2- @ignant
3- @kodak


Where to find Chiara’s work

@shadowontherun / @shadowonfilm /


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