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Raw and unexpected

Updated: Mar 15, 2021

For Yoan Jolly, a photograph is a success when it manages to catch someone’s attention for at least one second. “Two if they really love it. And if it makes it onto a fridge under a magnet, bingo!”

He talks to Francesca Emms.

Jolly is a professional photographer, illustrator, and graphic designer and also works in video and textile design. But his Instagram (@it.already.exists) is mostly landscapes. “I’m interested in how years of human occupation have tamed every single part of the natural world,” he says, “I might see a hill glowing yellow in the sunset. It is pretty, but the underlying story is that humans have stripped all the trees that once covered it. Landscape photography bears a social message for me, even though it might not be that obvious when first looking at my images.”

His personal photographs capture a raw and unexpected side of the region. He says great landscape photography requires effort. "It means getting off the beaten track, braving the weather, planning and searching for locations that are not popular, and spending time in places that are not your typical postcard shot, mostly on your own.”

Born and raised in a small French village, Jolly felt claustrophobic when he moved to Paris for his first job. He needed to get out. “Back then, there were only four countries offering a working holiday visa. The only country that appealed to me was the one I knew the least about: New Zealand.”

Spotting Wellington in the middle of the map, he thought it would be a perfect starting point for exploration. He booked a flight and arrived in 2008. “My first year, I lived in a small house near the Botanic Gardens. I used to walk through the bush every day to go to work. One day I saw dolphins in the harbour: it was one of those magic moments where the ocean was completely still. I fell in love.” Twelve years later, he’s still here. “I can’t imagine living anywhere else. Poneke is home.”

First published Capital #70

Images courtesy of Yoan Jolly


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