Instagram Takeover: Zoe Wetherall’s Aerial Art

Follow along @americanphotomag

This week on Instagram we've handed the control over to Zoe Wetherall, an aerial photographer originally from Melbourne who recently relocated to New York City. Although aerial photography has become increasingly popular with easy accessibility to drones, Wetherall still prefers to shoot the old-fashioned way. Here's why.

Many people who are making aerial photographs today use a drone to capture their images, but you don’t. Tell me why?

Drones are a whole different category—I would need a drone license, knowledge of air space regulations (which can be very restrictive), and a drone capable of shooting quality images like from a high-end DSLR. Also, I feel that it’s the drone taking the picture, not me. Drones are great for going places an aircraft can’t go, but I prefer to be up there to see the patterns myself.

You often shoot from a hot-air balloon—why is that?

Hot-air balloons move slowly and give me the time and space to gaze straight down without doing any tricky maneuvering or having to first remove doors like in a helicopter.

What is it about the bird’s-eye perspective that you find so interesting?

I think bird’s-eye is still an unusual and intriguing way to see the landscape. For me, when looking down I like seeing forms pop out and manmade structures resolve into patterns. Studying the landscape from above, I get a chance to spot unexpected shapes, textures and colors, all of which I find fascinating.

What are you looking out for when composing your images?

I am usually looking for simple shapes, patterns and textures. I don’t always go out on a shoot with set ideas in mind for composition. I tend to just see what I think works and doesn’t work. I have a graphic, minimalist way of seeing things, so I will almost subconsciously look for things that fit with how I like to see the world—creating order from chaos.

It seems that since you moved to the States your work has shifted away from natural landscapes and toward more industrial scenes and urban areas. Why is that?

While I do still love to shoot natural landscapes, urban areas are more accessible to me on a daily basis living in New York City. To go up in a hot-air balloon takes some planning, expense, and the right weather conditions, so it’s not something I can shoot all the time.

I now have the opportunity to shoot urban areas in the same style as my landscape work, and it’s great that it’s something I can be shooting constantly. I find there are as many patterns and textures in the manmade world as there in the natural one.

What are some of your favorite accounts to follow for inspiration on Instagram?

There are so many! For minimalist architecture photography one of my favorites at the moment is @cimkedi. Great composition and lots of color. Similar accounts I like are @le_blanc and @marcuscederberg .

For aerial photography it's hard to pass @jeffreymilstein. @dailyoverview is also an interesting account with aerial images of the earth taken from satellites.

To see more traditional landscape photography, I love looking at the work of @greg_dubois.

For work that is completely different to my own, people and animals, I go to @elena_shumilova. The lighting and treatment in these images is amazing. I also frequent @jermzlee for some photos of an entertaining pug.

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