The compelling beauty of landscapes and unpredictability of analogue photography come together in Dora Kontha's work. Visual communication has always been a strong interest for the Denmark-based film photographer, who often travels to remote locations to capture the rawness of nature and its wide-open spaces in different film formats – 35 mm, medium format, and instant. "I use my pictures as canvases for capturing and creating dreamlike places, where it’s difficult to distinguish reality from dream, the virtual from tangible environments."
Hi. Dora. Who or what influenced you to pursue photography?
It all begun when, a few years ago, I put my hands on my grandma’s old Praktika. I still remember how fascinated I was by the mechanism of that camera and the whole process of developing film. My enthusiasm and excitement are still as high now as years before, when I am taking a photograph. The challenge of analogue photography is not seeing the result right away and also the limitation to a certain amount of frame. So it’s all about the here and now, as there is no chance for corrections or second takes but it makes the process authentic, honest, and beautiful.
What does photography mean to you?
Photography is a form of communication that allows me to express myself in a way that no other medium can provide. My photographs are reflections of my vision, feelings, dreams, imagination, and surroundings. The process of creating a picture gives me relief, challenge, unpredictability, calmness, and happiness at the same time. It’s important for me that with my traditional cameras, I am able to immortalize special moments, places, emotions, and people, so in this way, they will stay with me forever.
What do you like about experimental and landscape photography?
For some reason, I have always been drawn to remote, dramatic, and wild landscapes, so one part of my work focuses on rough, wide-open spaces and the form of unreal nature. Experimentation has been always part of my process and I slowly started developing series about inner landscapes as well.
Among all the places you visited, which is the most memorable?
All places were special for different reasons, but probably the most adventurous journey was to Li river in China. When we saw the first karst mountains from the train windows, it was a moment I will never forget. Those dreamy landscapes are completely breathtaking and it really felt like being in a different world. Despite the language barrier, we managed to find our way around in the region of Yangshuo and discovered the area by hiking, biking, sailing, and in a hot air balloon. The views were completely mesmerizing.
Given the current global situation, how does this affect your creative output?
These are weird, difficult times that we all experience at the same time and the quarantine can mean very different things for all of us. Personally, I appreciate the value of time much more than I ever did before and I use it for experimenting more with my cameras, learning new photographic techniques, reading the books I have always wanted, trying out various alternative processes and working on new series. These are the activities that help me to stay focused and positive during these months when I can’t spend time together with the people I love.