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Chester County Press

Chadds Ford photographer to join expedition in Mongolia

01/30/2018 11:33AM ● By Richard Gaw
By Richard L. Gaw

Staff Writer

Over the last several years, in a portfolio that has been celebrated as both ethereal and intimate, the work of Chadds Ford photographer Alessandra Manzotti has explored the fabric and texture of Chester County.

As seen at galleries in Delaware, Pennsylvania and Maryland and in private homes, Manzotti's camera holds rural landscapes, wildlife and the people of the Brandywine Valley in still-frame continuity: The playfulness of foxes in a snowstorm; the bristle of a horse's mane; the wide and empty swath of an open field; and the well-worn peaks and valleys of a human hand.

Beginning on Feb. 10, however, Manzotti will take her talents to one of the most remote parts of the world. She will join BBC and Human Planet photographer Timothy Allen, and six other photographers from Europe and South America, on a two-week expedition of the Altai Mountain region of Western Mongolia, where she will document the spring migration of a family of Kazakhs eagle hunters, their prized eagles, and a herd of 1,000 cattle and camels.

“This expedition will allow me to potentially come home with a cohesive body of work,” said Manzotti, who was selected by Allen to join the trip after a Skype interview with him, and will be the only American on the expedition.

“Working in Chester County, I often shoot one image at a time, and often, there is no link to other images,” Manzotti said. “With this trip, I am hoping to create a collection of images that make sense together. I want to be able to create a story on this trip, from start to finish, that tells what it is like to live and thrive in these conditions.”

Working alongside Allen, Manzotti will be in great company. A seven-time winner of the Travel Photographer of the Year award, Allen joined the BBC in 2008 to begin work on the documentary project, Human Planet. He spent more than a year and a half traveling with four teams, covering stories of human endeavor in more than 40 countries around the world. Allen shot content for the program and its accompanying multimedia projects, as well as imagery that was published in a best-selling BBC book, formed an exhibition, and was used in the program’s worldwide branding and publicity.

With temperatures dropping as low as 40 degrees below zero, Manzotti will sleep in traditional round tents called gers. She’ll use this opportunity to become immersed in the life of the nomadic people of Mongolia while witnessing and photographing areas very rarely seen by outsiders.

A native of Milan, Italy, Manzotti said she was inspired to join the Mongolian expedition by her father's longtime interest in the region.

“My father has been a world traveler throughout his life, and has always had a passion for learning about Mongolia, even though it's one of the only places he's never been to,” she said. “When I was a kid, he would pass books about the region along to me. The vastness, isolation and remoteness of the region has always been attractive to me. In the chaos of our society, it's fascinating to think there are still people who live nomadic lives, who change their homes every year, live with minimal possessions in very harsh conditions, and yet are still very content.”

Manzotti said some of the images that will come from her Mongolian expedition will appear in her next gallery show, beginning March 1 at the old forge in Fairville Village, 522 Kennett Pike, in collaboration with artist Susan Iserbyt, from Belgium. To learn more about Alessandra Manzotti, visit

To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email [email protected].