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Inside Photographer Chiara Zonca’s Immersive Desert Portraits

Photographer Chiara Zonca on exploring her inner self through the arid landscapes of the Atacama Desert of Chile and the Bolivian Altiplano.

Antofagasta Region, Chile

Antofagasta Region, Chile

Why did you settle on shooting your series Moon Kingdom in Chile and Bolivia?
I am always looking for surreal and unusual places. When I came across this region, it looked like something that belonged in my imagination. I just knew I had to photograph it and create a natural playground for me to project my feelings onto.

Vicuña

Vicuñas

Tell us about the camel in your photo.
It’s actually a vicuña, a local mammal that’s part of the camel family.

Chilean Altiplano, road to Argentina

Chilean Altiplano, road to Argentina

Were there any other signs of life?
The region feels completely barren and silent, but if you pay close attention, you start noticing signs of life everywhere. There were llamas, loads of flamingos and even a giant rabbit called a viscacha.

Géiser de Sol de Mañana, Bolivia

Géiser de Sol de Mañana, Bolivia

This is your first book. What inspired you to put this project in print?
While I was there, I quickly realized the series was getting quite extensive. So when my editor approached me to work on a book, I knew Moon Kingdom was the perfect series for it. The images were created with print in mind, and it felt natural to shape them into some sort of journey.

Bolivian Altiplano region – Laguna Honda

Bolivian Altiplano region – Laguna Honda

Portrait is a term usually associated with humans – why did you decide to call your desert photos portraits?
That’s how I view my landscape work. It’s not only about documenting topography or light – it’s about reaching for a deeper connection. I am painfully introverted and I struggle to connect with people, but it’s different with landscapes. They give me a sense of freedom, which allows me to better get in touch with my inner self.

Cañón de Guatín, San Pedro de Atacama

Cañón de Guatín, San Pedro de Atacama

What did you take with you on this shoot?
My husband and some basic camping equipment. Camping enables me to be right where I want to be when the light is good. Plus, it allows me to spend several hours in the field before I start shooting.

Bolivian Altiplano region

Bolivian Altiplano region

What are a few of your favourite accounts on Instagram?
I am constantly in awe of Reuben Wu’s work and his curation account @imaginarymagnitude. For a touch of Americana, I always look forward to checking out Ry Shorosky, and for analogue lovers, @ihoworth’s work is outstanding. I also really like Elsa Bleda for her melancholic nightscapes, and Neil Krug is an absolute genius.

San Pedro de Atacama, near Moon Valley

San Pedro de Atacama, near Moon Valley

Where are you travelling next?
I am currently working on a new North American series. It’s a big change for me in terms of style, subject and medium. I am also itching to visit Iceland, Chile, Australia and China. Nothing is set in stone yet, but that’s how I like it.

Chilean Altiplano, road to Argentina

Chilean Altiplano, road to Argentina

How do we get a copy of your book?
The book will be released in December and is available for pre-order now. It will also be available on Amazon in April 2019.

Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

Tags

PHOTOGRAPHY     TRAVEL PHOTOS