ISO Serenity with Lucia Zolea

Zolea pic 4 na nin

Lucia Zolea ft. Na Nin

If there is one thing Lucia Zolea wants to contribute to this world, it’s more romance.

Zolea is a student, photographer, and freelance stylist based in Richmond, Virginia, and her starry-eyed aesthetic calls to mind the emotional tunnel-vision of first love. She has become the darling of daydreamers (more than 50k of them on her Instagram) all over the world, and the crush of Lisa Says Gah, The Cut and Vogue.

Zolea Pic 2 J Hannah

Zolea, ft. J. Hannah polish

As grating as analysis is to romance, I had to wonder exactly what chord Zolea’s work is striking with her audience, and what trail is leading the way for Zolea’s rising star.

Zolea pic fruit

The granddaughter of an Italian seamstress, Zolea’s personal style combines the modern, classically cool look of Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy and designer Sophie Buhai with the naturally minimalistic look of 1940s and 50s Italy. Looking at Zolea’s aesthetic, I was reminded of the Giuseppe Tornatore film, “Cinema Paradiso”, but not so much because of their shared Italian tones. There was something broader, a more general connection, like seeing the resemblance between a friend and their distant relative.

In “Cinema Paradiso”, the main character is able to break free from the confines of life in post-war Sicily by seeing films at his local movie theater. It is a familiar portrayal of cinema as an escape, presenting images that have the power to take you away from reality. In today’s media-centric world, where we are constantly bombarded with new information, it’s natural to long for our own escape. Zolea’s photography, like the films in “Cinema Paradiso”, present us with an alternative.

Zolea pic ft. lisa marie fernandez

Zolea, ft. Lisa Marie Fernandez

“To me, photography is so real and raw that it takes me right back to a certain moment,” Zolea said. “I can look at a photo I’ve taken and almost feel what I felt while being in the moment itself. I haven’t found any other mode of art for me personally in which I can feel that.”

Zolea’s photographs read as love letters to interior design, fashion, and food. Her focus is often lingering, slowing down time to luxuriate in the overlooked details of everyday tableaus—a glass of limoncello on the beach, the buttery yellow satin of a pair of Suzanne Rae mules. Zolea’s eye injects you with a sense of calm and heart-eyed longing, and the impact is nothing short of dreamy.

Zolea pic 1

In Zolea’s world, the everyday hierarchy of stress and relaxation is reversed. While we scroll on the same screens that can deliver so much chaos, she presents us with a brief sanctuary. Her uncluttered, muted photographs gently dip us in serotonin, we remember to breathe, our shoulders lower. For a moment, we look through a small window into a quiet place.

Zolea pic 8

For me, Zolea’s work is a reminder to take things slowly, and to fall in love more often. To write a letter, to take my time with a butter croissant, to marvel at someone’s hair caught in the wind. To ask myself how I am feeling, not in general, but in a moment. To pause.

Zolea pic bug

All photos courtesy of Lucia Zolea.


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