Every once in a while, we stumble upon a photography project that combines aesthetic beauty, creativity, and storytelling impact. Such was the case when we saw the photo series, Contemplatio by Italian Fine Art Photographer, Erika Zolli. This beautiful series of abstract, fine art flower photography “is a eulogy to the contemplation of nature. Nine images that immortalize.” We’re excited to share these incredible images with our readers below as well as a full interview with the artist.
What inspired you to create these photos?
The idea of the “Contemplatio” project was born in conjunction with a transfer I made lately. From a big city I moved to live for a few months in a context where nature reigns supreme and where the biological clock is in perfect harmony with the environment surrounding, which is often difficult living in the city. Here I wanted to create this project that is a real eulogy to the contemplation of Nature. Nine images that immortalize, in an explosion of colors, the existential apex of nine flowers during the day of the Spring Equinox, March 20, 2021. I chose to take the photographs on this date as the equinox has an important meaning on a symbolic level: on this day the masculine and feminine are in total balance, thus giving the human being the maximum possibility to transcend their limits. It is considered a day free from prejudices, which essentially arise in our mind when we are too identified with something. On this day it leads balance, in order not to be identified with anything, but only with wanting to abandon oneself to contemplate. We need nature to show us the way out of the prison of thought conceptual. By observing a flower we can feel its stillness and, in doing so, the same stillness arises within us. Unlike humans, plants did not split in two. They don’t live through mental images of themselves and in this way they do not need to worry trying to protect and reinforce those images. By focusing awareness on the sounds of nature, we immerse ourselves completely in listening, perceiving a sacredness that cannot be understood by thought. An intelligence greater than the human mind is activated. It is the same intelligence as in nature supports everything. The way to get as close as possible to this intelligence is to be aware of our inner field, feeling its vitality. Nature exists in the stillness that exists before the arising of thought. The flower is unaware of one’s own beauty and sacredness because one does not think.
More Images from Contemplatio by Erika Zolli
What cameras, lenses and lighting gear were used to create the photos?
For this project I use a Canon EOS 5D Mark II with Canon EF 50mm f/1.8. I didn’t use lighting gear, I wanted to use only natural light.
Do you have a favorite photo from the series? If so, what is it and why?
My favorite photo from the series is “Camelia” because I love the delicacy and elegance that hides in its pose. it is as if she observes with curiosity what lies beneath her
For photographers looking to create impactful images like this, could you share your process of coming up with your concepts and ideas?
Generally I always start from a basic concept from which to develop a photographic project. I begin to inform myself by looking for texts and above all symbolic meanings connected to the theme from which I decided to leave. Once the material is collected, I begin to shape the images that I want to create, imagining all the details: from the colors, to the geometries, to the typology of light that must be present in the photos that I will take. In the case of “Contemplatio” instead I used another type of approach, I didn’t put in scene nothing, but I let myself be enveloped by what was spontaneously in front of me, immortalizing it in its naturalness.
What are you currently working on? What’s next?
I am currently working on a series of portraits of men and women inspired by details of famous monuments of Gothic architecture. This is a collaboration with my partner. He creates the sculptures for the set and I put together all the elements for giving life to the image I have in mind.
About the Artist
I’m a photographer specialized in Fine Art and I have always been attracted to the potentiality of photography to lead the observer into a world of surreal poetry. New worlds and new realities are created in my photos to show and explore the invisible dreamlike dimension that resides in the human mind. Born as a self-taught photographer currently living and working in Milan. I hold workshops of creative photography in Italy and Spain.
My works have been mentioned in various magazines and newspapers including: Fotografia Reflex, Il Fotografo, L’Espresso, L’OEil de la Photographyie, La Repubblica, ANSA, Creatace (VICE), Art Parasites, Urban Contest, Click Blog , Bored Panda etc. I exhibited in Milan, China, Paris, Venice, Los Angeles, Canada etc.
I have recently won the Smithsonian Magazine’s 18th Annual Photo Contest as “Altered Images” Category. I won the first prize of the “My City” competition organized by the European Environment Agency and the first prize of the t2gE conference on Green Economy in 2016.
Images shared with permission