Zoe Wetherall has visited some of the most iconic places in the world, from the Grand Canyon to Niagara Falls, but she’s interested in more than pristine or untouched landscapes. As an aerial photographer, she’s soared over spaces as seemingly mundane or ordinary as golf courses and wineries, transforming them into abstract swaths of light and color. Her pictures have been compared to works as diverse and far-reaching as the photographs of Edward Burtynsky and the paintings of Mark Rothko, merging genres and defying categorization.
In 2017, Wetherall was named one of the winners of the Feature Shoot Emerging Photography Awards. With the deadline for this year’s awards fast-approaching, we touched base with the artist to see what she’s been up to over the past four years. Learn more about the Emerging Photography Awards and how to submit your work here.
You were named one of the winners of the 2017 Emerging Photography Awards for your fine art aerial landscapes. Can you tell us a bit about your process?
“For some years now, I have been photographing aerial landscapes from hot air balloons. I have shot from helicopters and small planes too, but the majority of my work is from hot air balloons in Australia and the US. I think in the last four years, I have really refined my style, and I’ve figured out what works and what doesn’t. I feel more confident and know what to look for when I’m shooting these days. I see it as an ongoing project, and I would like to explore new locations as well.
How did winning the Emerging Photography Awards influence your career, and what have been some memorable moments from recent years?
“It gave me my first experience exhibiting in a gallery in New York City. I am now represented by a different gallery and have been part of many shows since then. In that same year, 2017, I also won Architecture Photographer of the year at the Moscow International Foto Awards, and in 2018, I was a finalist in the Hasselblad Masters awards.
“Since then, I have been focusing on exhibiting my work at Front Room Gallery in NYC. Earlier this year, I had my first solo show there called ‘Lines of Nature’ showcasing my more recent aerial photographs. The show is still available to view online with a 3D tour of the space.”
Why is it important for you to explore the manmade world, rather than simply photographing beautiful and pristine landscapes?
“Firstly, I wanted to shoot something different and try to create work that is unique. I think it’s important to highlight the effects of human influence in our landscape because that influence is not always helpful or constructive, and we should be aware of that. At the same time, photographing natural landscape with some man made influence makes for visually interesting compositional elements.
“I often look for straight lines, with texture, color and pattern, not always found in the natural world. Those man made hints enable me to highlight my distinct graphic composition style, while also showing how humans have changed the land to benefit themselves. I photograph a lot in farming regions at different times of the year, so it’s interesting to see how the landscape changes in different seasons, and to see the effects of drought from a bird’s eye perspective.”
Entries are open for the Feature Shoot Emerging Photography Awards through September 3rd, 2021. All genres are welcome, and we have categories for single images as well as series. Prizes include exhibitions in NY, LA, Berlin, and Paris, inclusion in the Feature Shoot Emerging Photographers book, and more.