The beauty of Zoe Wetherall’s work is in the structured geometry of natural and man-made forms – a natural fit for a little girl who wanted to be a bricklayer when she grew up.
Wetherall, who has won nearly two dozen awards in her short career, recalls gazing at the pattern in a wall of bricks as a four-year-old daydreamer, and thinking “I can see how that works. I could do that.”
Photography has been a part of her life for almost as long. She first picked up a camera when she was eight and her father gave her instructions on his SLR. She has vivid memories of shapes emerging on the photographic paper in the darkroom, and of shooting at the family’s houseboat on Lake Eildon, two hours from her hometown of Melbourne.
I’ve been interested since the very beginning in photographing landscape and what was around me
She enjoyed early success, too; she was just a teenager when her images were first exhibited, as part of a group display of high school art at the National Gallery of Victoria.
These days, she nurtures a design-conscious approach to her work, paying attention to the subtle patterns hidden in architecture and landscape, and using her camera to reveal their beauty.
But she first realised those preoccupations would be her path as a photographer when she was holidaying in the United States and took a hot air balloon ride over Albuquerque. Shooting downward, she found that familiar landscapes resolved into something quite different when seen from above, and she liked the way that distance sorted the noise, dirt, and humanity of the ground below into orderly, abstract designs.
The resultant bird’s eye views struck a chord with people, and she began to get airborne any way she could – on a birthday scenic flight, on a doorless helicopter tour in Hawaii, over Niagara Falls and the Grand Canyon. Exhibitions and more awards followed, and now Wetherall is based in New York.
“I really like looking straight down,” she says. “It makes me look at things in a very graphic way; you are just focusing on the textures of the land and the shapes without being distorted by the angle of view. It’s very simple and clean.”
Drones are becoming increasingly popular for aerial photography; Zoe however, prefers to be in the air capturing the images herself. She likes to see the shapes and patterns right in front of her with her own eyes, rather than looking at a screen and piloting a drone.
This series, Earth, shares Zoe’s perspective of the world by documenting the environment around us. She loves to travel, and seeing new places is a significant source of inspiration for her work. These images of the earth grew from her desire to show the beauty of its natural form, and she also wanted to reveal the scale of humanity’s impact on the landscape.
A mixture of images shot from hot air balloons, helicopters, small planes, and also from the ground, some of the locations include Bryce Canyon National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Grand Canyon National Park, Niagara Falls, Albuquerque and Melbourne.
Becoming somewhat of a signature style, Wetherall photographed the landscape in a way that eliminates the sky, horizon lines, and other normal points of reference; she find this helps her focus solely on the earth’s colours and textures, and turns the landscape into an abstract work of art.
As an ongoing series, Wetherall hopes to continue to travel to see new and interesting places, while documenting the earth with her camera. The outback of Australia, Africa, Turkey, and Antarctica are just a few places on her dream list of locations to visit and photograph. [Official Website]