a mexican road trip and stolen camera resulted in jesse lizotte’s new exhibition

We sat down with the photographer ahead of his 'Alto Aqui' exhibition at China Heights to discuss beautiful scenes and silver linings.

by Briony Wright
Mar 19 2018, 4:49am

We've made no secret of our fondness for the photographs of Jesse Lizotte. Working predominantly between the US and Australia, Jesse has left an impressive catalog of portraits and documentary photographs in his transitory wake. His work contains ample heart and soul and his respect for people, places and his craft is evident in each image.

Ahead of his new show at China Heights , we asked Jesse for a sneak peek at the photographs and for some context around the beautifully serene landscapes.

Firstly, can you tell us a little about the photographs we'll see in your upcoming exhibition at China Heights?
I’m showing a series of photos from my road trip up and down the Baja coast of Mexico. It's a departure from what I have done in the past because the majority of the photos are of landscapes and there is a certain stillness about them. They are more personal - just me, my girlfriend Maya and these desolate spaces we passed through. I had taken portraits of strangers I met along the way, but after my trip when I got back to LA I had a camera stolen. I was so gutted at first, but I guess the silver lining is that I was still left with these photos as a memento and the shitty situation kinda altered my editing process, haha.

The scenes look kind of beautiful but wild. What is it like irl?
What struck me about the landscape was the polarity. You have this arid and harsh desert, dotted with huge saguaro cactuses and then the most crystal blue ocean water lapping up on the shores. It really seemed like an oasis!

It sounds like heaven. What's your favourite kind of photography?
Documentary, reportage, portraiture. That’s what turned me onto photography from a young age.

Read: My Crew: Jesse Lizotte's Friends Reign Supreme, from L.A to Sydney

China Heights has for so long been such a special creative space in Sydney. Can you tell us about your relationship with the gallery and its owners?
I had my first solo show there three years ago. I’ve know Ed Woodley since I was a teenager, just kicking around! He’s fostered a lot of great Australian artists over the years and is a fixture in Sydney’s creative community.

Can people buy the prints on the night?
The works are for sale, but I never really give that too much thought. It is nice though to be able to give back to the gallery that’s supported me. I just really enjoy the process and throwing a party with beautiful things to look at, haha.

Where would you ideally like to take photography?
I can take photos anywhere! I’ve been in some bizarre, banal situations and said to myself, "it’s not where you’re at it’s where you’re going!" Whatever inspires me in the moment. If someone asked me tomorrow to do an assignment on Mars, I wouldn’t pass!

What makes you happiest?
Traveling light. Just me and my camera.


Alto Aqui will show at China Heights this Friday 23rd March, 6-8PM, 16 Foster St Surry Hills.