Behind the lens

Jessica Antola: Near and far



Where are you based?

Brooklyn, NY (via Paris and Los Angeles, where I still spend part of the year).

How do you make a living?

I’ve been shooting commercially for over fifteen years – editorial, advertising as well as fine art photography.

What camera do you use?

Canon 5DS digital and Hasselblad 501 CM

How has travel made an impact on your life?

Travel has always been a major part of my life. I’m lucky that many of my shoots take me abroad and I also make time to shoot personal projects farther afield. My parents are two of the most adventurous people I know. From a young age, they showed me how to feel comfortable traveling the world, whether I was sleeping on the floor of a monastery in Tibet, at the age of sixteen, or wandering the souks of Damascus, or staying in a Yali tribal village in the highlands of West Papua, there was no location too off the beaten path or fellow human being too challenging with whom to communicate. These experiences from a young age completely shaped who I am and how I relate to the world.

What is your relationship to travel/adventure, and what does it mean to you?

I hold travel in the highest regard and hope there is never a time when it is not part of my life. I see travel as the best form of education and a way to end prejudice.

Palmyra, Syria

I took this photo in 2001 when Syria was a very different place. Palmyra linked east and west and uniquely blended Greco-Roman with Persian architecture. I’m saddened by the Islamic State militant’s destruction of this ancient caravan city, which, for 2,000 years, has served as an important part of human history.

Tyre, Lebanon

Tyre is about 50 miles south of Beirut on the Mediterranean Sea. It’s an ancient Phoenician city and the legendary birthplace of Europa and Elissa. Tyre has several ancient landmarks, including the Roman Hippodrome, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Valley of the Kings, Egypt

I shot this while on assignment in Egypt. It was the second time I’d traveled there. I’m fascinated by the tombs of the great queens and pharaohs and wonder what more lies under these sandy hills.

Sunrise Over The Valley of the Kings, Egypt

I took this photo from a hot air balloon while during sunrise. As I saw this view with the ancient tombs behind the town I thought about how Egyptian history is inseparable from modern life. Newer structures are built beside the old and life continues.

Entering The Omo Valley, Ethiopia

The Omo Valley is a remote region of Ethiopia, bordering South Sudan and Kenya. We were among the only cars on the road during our drive into this area, known for the numerous tribal groups living an isolated existence. These boys were on stilts in the middle of the road, wearing elements of their traditional Bena tribal attire and westernized cotton briefs. I thought this was a creative way to make a few birr off the occasional tourist on the road.

The Omo River, Ethiopia

The course of the Omo River is entirely contained within the borders of Ethiopia and empties into Lake Turkana on the Kenyan border.

The Saloum River, Senegal

I stopped in a town along the Saloum River while driving in southern Senegal, near the Gambian border. I met these boys while walking across a bridge. I hung out and photographed them as they jumped into the water, showing me their best diving skills.

The Night Market in Marrakech, Morocco

I was shooting an ad campaign for the American Express Black Card in four different countries. Morocco was of my favorite locations for this project. This shot is of the night food market in Jemaa el-Fnaa square in the medina. It seemed that everyone was there – locals, tourists, snake charmers, and food stalls as far as the eye could see.