We are happy to introduce you to our Top 10 Interview with a Photographer series! Meet Photographer #7- Christine Zona, as interviewed by Maliha. Her photography experience is enviable – she was the first in-house staff photographer for the Discovery Channel!
Please say a few words about yourself.
I am a professional freelance photographer based out of San Francisco.
In my work as photographer, I enter each shoot with a plan. But when time comes to photograph, I watch for the happy mistakes — those unexpected moments that bring out the mood and beauty of the location and capture the true personality of my subjects. The results are energetic portraits of a stylized real life — that somehow feels bigger than life. I achieve this by balancing the spontaneity and daring style of my Fine Art work with my years of professional experience.
As the first in-house staff photographer for the Discovery Channel, I planned shoots and photographed everything from products and corporate headshots, to destination imagery and full editorial campaigns.
For my Fine Art work — done with plastic cameras — I was named Grand Champion in Urban Outfitters’ “Urban Nomad” Photography Contest. The winning photograph was sold in Urban Outfitters stores nationwide. My work has been featured in two solo shows and exhibited in three international juried competitions. It also won First Place in Lomography’s “Wanderlust” Photo Competition.
I love making the mundane seem otherworldly. My best photographs are full of emotions, textures, and surprises.
What is it that you love about analog photography?
I love the process. And I don’t just mean processing film, which I also love doing, but the overall process of photographing and handling film. There is this simple joy I get out of preparing for a shoot. Walking along side my army of plastic cameras to select the perfect one for the job, then thinking about my subjects, the location, the look I want to achieve, and rummaging through my giant bin of film to find one that best fits my goals. I also love loading my cameras, and feeling the film advance. From the gentle clicks of my Lomo LC-A to the smooth glide of my Holga to the quick pull of my SuperSampler ripcord. And when a roll is done, I have a little cylinder of history in my hands. Every roll is like Christmas to me. I just can’t wait to pick it up from the lab and see what treasures I created. All the resulting images are something that can’t be compared to digital in my opinion. The colors, grain, and textures are immaculate in film, and I will never give up shooting it.
What kind of achievement in photography do you strive for?
Everyone loves to win contests and be recognized for their work, but for me, I just want to continue to be able to do what I love. All that other stuff is just a bonus. I made so many sacrifices to follow my dream to become a professional photographer, and I will do whatever it takes to continue to do so. Photography is my life and I would be lost without it. One day I hope to photograph an area of the rain forest that is going to be destroyed. I want to create a series that is so powerful, they decide to save it and put it under preservation.
What kind of film camera do you usually use?
All of my film cameras are plastic. My collection more than doubled after winning the Urban Outfitters’ “Urban Nomad” contest, which makes choosing a ‘go-to’ camera rather difficult for me. Even though I have so many different ones, I know all my cameras very well, because they are like family to me. Each one has a different personality and reacts uniquely in certain situations. If I had to pick I would say I use my Holga (square format), Diana with the 35mm Back (panoramic/sprocket holes), and my Horizon Perfekt quite frequently. Right now I am trying to procure a used Bronica medium format 645 with 80mm lens – it would be my first non plastic film camera.
Male nudes or female nudes?
Both. I think the human form is beautiful in both sexes. We are all so different. But I never photograph nudes. I like fashion way too much to ever sacrifice removing it from my photographs.
If you could take a picture of just about anything RIGHT NOW, what would it be?
Conan O’Brien. I absolutely adore this man. I think he is the cat’s pajamas. I have loved him since he first started on Late Night with his drab set and crazy hairdo. Whenever his name is mentioned I smile – he is hysterical! I think his fiery red hair, playful personality, and great sense of humor would make for amazing portraits and one heck of a shoot. Maybe if I tweet this interview to him he will let me photograph him. A girl can dream.
If you could be anything else other than a photographer, what would you be?
I don’t think I would want to be anything else. However, I always wanted to be able to sing, draw/paint, and be a master of mix martial arts. Not saying I want to do these things as my career, I am just jealous of people who have these talents and would love to have them.
I think that’s why I love photography so much, it’s my way to sing about adventures I have been on and paint moments in time through my lens. Not sure how to connect mix martial arts, it’s just something I find fascinating. :)
Tell us about a unique moment with your camera.
I went to Six Flags one summer with my dearest friend and his two daughters. I decided to take my Holga, since I was dying to take it with me on a ride. The first attempt I was told I wasn’t allowed to bring anything loose on the coaster. I really wanted to do this so I had to call upon my amateur ninja skills (hey, I tied it in!). I shoved my bulky Holga under my sweatshirt until I was seated. When the operator wasn’t looking I took it out, slipped the strap around my ankle and hid the camera under my pant leg. They never noticed – success!
Photographing on roller-coaster was much harder than I thought, it was so jerky! I couldn’t quite see through the viewfinder or tell how far I was advancing the film. I just had to guess, but it was such a rush! Snapping, winding, and twirling, flying around upside down. Somehow I managed to shoot a whole roll during the very short ride. One photo of the coaster going around the loop came out so well I put it into my portfolio. I have to say, it doesn’t get any more in the moment than that.
Color or black and white photography?
Both. Some situations call for color and some black and white. With color I usually cross-process my film. With black and white I try to shoot 400 or faster when lighting allows. I just love having film grain in my black and white photos.
Do you think photography has somehow shaped your life? If so, then how?
Most Definitely. I owe everything to photography. I have trouble expressing myself with words. Writing doesn’t come naturally to me like it does for most people. I’m kinda struggling to answer the questions for this interview. Photography has helped me express my thoughts, my dreams, and my views of the world. I think if I had the time I would have answered each of these questions with a series of images.
Mahila’s LomoHome: http://lomography.com/homes/mahila