About Tanya Zouev


Sydney based, Australian Professional Photographer

Photography for me, from the very beginning of my career, has been about capture. Not just in the literal mechanical sense of a shutter capturing a fraction of a second, but also in the capturing of a moment, the capturing of the viewer and in turn the capturing of emotion. The Oxford Dictionary defines capture as “to take into possession”“to exert influence over” and “to record accurately in words or pictures”.

Whilst the latter is probably the most logical definition, I prefer the former because a truly successful image will always do just that. After all, I don’t think that Robert Mapplethorpe, Mary Ellen Mark or Diane Arbus were particularly concerned with simply “recording accurately”. Their images were and still are very much arresting, relevant and influential.

My story as a photographer begins in 1987, in high school, at age 16. I’d had my heart set on becoming a graphic designer and creative director from my very early teens as I’d become quite enamoured with typography and work experience stints and Young & Rubicam and Ogilvy. But then I got my hands on a Pentax P30 35mm camera along with a roll of Kodak Plus-X black and white film and the wizardry at which the latent image presented itself after its magical chemical bath, had me quickly choosing photography over a career at an advertising agency.

The deal was sealed after I convinced my mother to take me to the 150 Years of Photography exhibition in 1987 at the National Gallery in Canberra. The images of the aforementioned Mapplethorpe, Arbus and Mark that were exhibited alongside those of Weegee, Ansel Adams, Cartier-Bresson and other artists spoke directly to my 16 year old soul. I fell in love so deeply with photography that the thought of spending my life as anything other than taking pictures just didn’t make sense. I became notorious with my teachers for skipping out on class in favour of the darkroom and I began assisting several well known Melbourne photographers, often truanting school to go to shoots (a fact still unbeknownst to my parents some thirty years later). I went onto study a three-year Bachelor’s degree in fine art photography under Dr. Les Walkling at RMIT university which I completed in 1993, three years of my life I still consider some of the best.

In the first ten years of my career I pretty much ran the gamut of what a photographer could shoot. I worked seven days a week for years shooting everything from car rallies to Santa pictures to several hundred weddings. In addition to this, I also worked as a retoucher and darkroom operator printing colour and black & white images in pro-labs. I didn’t care, just as long as it was taking pictures, being knee-deep in prints and Patterson film developing tanks in darkrooms and utterly immersed in photography. I wanted to build a solid foundation as a photographer who could face any challenge out in the field and I really got to know my stuff. A tad obsessive perhaps, but it was that driving force that has led me to become the photographer I am today.

Most days, my life revolves around photography in some shape or form. I have a love of food that comes a close second to that of taking pictures. I cook as I shoot, a marriage of heart and intuition. When I’m working in the studio, I just know when I’ve got the capture. The same goes for when I’m in the kitchen, I just know when the flavours are right. When I’m not reading photography books or briefs, I’m reading cookbooks. Understandably then, nearly twenty years ago I bought those two loves together and started shooting food. Today, my work is based in Sydney Australia where I have lived since 2000, shooting food, still life, lifestyle and interiors photography for advertising and editorial clients.

In my spare time (a term I use loosely because I never seem to actually have any), I love travelling to far off places to shoot landscapes and travel pictures. I also enjoy locking myself away in the studio for periods of solitude to shoot still lives of natural and found objects. A special selection of these fine art landscape and still life images is available in my online shop for purchase.

It’s been some thirty years since I first picked up that Pentax, and twenty-plus years as a pro. Now in my forties and with my Santa photography days well and truly behind me, I take on commissions with confidence and skill, knowing that with my years of experience I can fulfil a client’s brief and exceed expectations. Whether it be a portrait, a product or a plate of food, my intention is that each photograph I take be evocative, beautiful and of the highest technical standard.

Tanya Zouev, February 2020.

My professional photography career and experience spans over two decades in both analogue and digital formats and I am available for commissions both in studio and on location. I specialise in food, lifestyle, interiors and still life photography and am available for advertising, editorial and commercial clients. My work is shot with a Phase One digital medium format system and on Canon. I am a Phase One Certified Professional and have over fifteen years experience as a Capture One operator and over twenty years experience working in digital photography. To contact me, click here.