Dora Kontha is a film photographer who specializes in wide-open spaces, rough nature, and undiscovered Nordic landscapes, turning them into magical depictions of the earth’s breathing skin. Her work focuses on the form of unreal nature. She creates melancholic and dramatic photographs that get under your skin in pursuit of feelings of freedom and wanderlust.
You usually photograph Nordic Landscapes. Was it a conscious choice or something that just happened? How did you know this was what you wanted to do?
For some reason, I have always been drawn to remote, dramatic, and wild landscapes, so it came naturally for me to photograph these places. One part of my work focuses on outer landscapes – the rough, wide-open spaces and the form of unreal nature. Experimentation has always been part of my process, and I slowly started developing series about inner landscapes as well. These photographs are about abstractions, feelings, and moments where it’s difficult to distinguish reality from dream, virtual from tangible environments.
Looking through your images, there is a feeling of skin. Like you are capturing the earth’s living skin. Does it ever feel that way to you? Or what is the sensation you get when you look at all the layers in a landscape?
Fascination. I am constantly amused by the diversity, power, beauty, and roughness of nature, whether it’s a mountain, a geyser, a lava field, a desert, a valley, an ocean, or an active volcano.
While it is so real, your work is also very unreal. How do you achieve this effect?
During the last couple of years, I have been solely working with traditional film cameras, and I am very selective when taking photographs to only capture moments, places, and feelings that resonate with me deeply. The analog process is also supporting this way of working as there is always a limitation to a certain amount of frames. With this medium, I am becoming more and more concentrated and patient and also learning to accept and embrace mistakes such as light leaks because they make the pictures authentic, honest, and beautiful.
If you think of skin as a barrier, have you ever felt there was a barrier between you and a certain landscape?
Absolutely. Being outdoors is a constant reminder of how small, insignificant, and vulnerable we are compared to nature.
Your photographs are glimpses into your secular universe. What does this incredible universe look like?
It’s an endless space with unreal scenery, dreamlike mountains, wilderness, vast landscapes, and unexplored spots with no human presence at all. My work is originating in escapism, a feeling of longing for illusive places, and the eagerness of discovering otherworldly sceneries. In general, I feel relieved, carefree, and calm in nature, and I always appreciate those quiet and tranquil places. That is also the time when I use my camera to capture my surroundings and, in a way, immortalize those special moments.
Which place would you love to photograph but haven’t visited yet? And why?
Antarctica is definitely my ultimate dream to visit because of the untouched nature, tough weather conditions, unique and remote geographical location, rich wildlife, endless snow, and icebergs. It would be such an extraordinary and unforgettable experience to discover, observe, and document those rough conditions and unreal landscapes for some time. Although arctic locations have always been my preference, there are also countless other incredible places all around the world that I would really like to explore in the future.