BJP, Documentary, Editorial, New Talent, Ones To Watch

Ones to Watch: Marco Zanella

Image © Marco Zanella

“I do not trust my memory, so I need to record it,” says the young Italian photographer, who takes a new photograph every day

“I’m not based anywhere yet,” says Marco Zanella. “I live and work between Sala Mandelli, Parma, Pianello val Tidone and Sicily. I like to switch it around.” Since inheriting his late Uncle Giorgio’s camera collection, the Italian photographer has been on the move and taking pictures every day for the past 11 years. “I do not trust my memory, so I need to record it,” he says.

Zanella was born in Parma in 1984, and 20 years later graduated from the Istituto Tecnico Leonardo da Vinci. He discovered creativity in 2006 when he met artist Matteo Ferretti, but it wasn’t until he attended a masterclass with Magnum photographer Alex Majoli in 2011 in the studio of Cesura – an Italian photography collective that has published much of his work – that Zanella was able to nurture his talent.

“The experience helped me transform the passion into an obsession,” he says. Zanella’s keen eye for observation and awareness of the things around him is clear. Shooting mainly in black-and white, while also making use of a harsh flash, there is a spontaneity about his work that adds to its dramatic narrative.

Image © Marco Zanella

At Majoli’s workshop, Zanella met Daria Birang, the Dutch-Iranian artist, curator and photobook editor who nominated him for BJP‘s Ones To Watch. Birang, who has worked with him in post-production projects, such as Moises Saman’s photobook Discordia, says “he’s a little bit secretive about his work”. Birang would not hear anything for months, then suddenly be inundated with imagery and inspiration in the middle of the night.

With no website or any social media platform, Zanella’s relationship with photography can be considered very private. He explains that for him, engaging with photography began as a form of therapy: “I had a troubled mind for several years – I wasn’t taking enough sun and I was living unhealthily: too much darkness and too many screen lights.” His aesthetic, he says is “like a beautiful lie. I think lying is the only way to express the inner truth.”

“He uses the camera to better understand the world around him and to connect – it even makes me look at the world differently,” says Birang. “He’s not an easy person to communicate with, but he feels very deeply about people. Yet there’s also always a sense of loneliness in his pictures.”

This article was published in the June 2017 BJP, issue #7860 – Ones to Watch, The Talent Issue, which is available via

Image © Marco Zanella

Image © Marco Zanella

Image © Marco Zanella

Image © Marco Zanella


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