Interview with Photographer Lavinia Cernău

Interview with photographer Lavinia Cernau

Lavinia Cernău

They say a photograph can speak a thousand words. But not all photography truly speaks to you. Working on this interview I realised just how lightly we use the phrase “beautiful photography”. I myself sometimes use it to describe the composition, or the mise-en-scène, the subject or the place, or even the mood, without it implicitly evoking emotion. And this is exactly what makes Lavinia Cernău’s photography so special. Her entire portfolio fills you with emotion and a lust for beautiful, meaningful living.

The Romanian countryside is the place where I feel the happiest and most at peace, and, somehow, it has never looked more beautiful than in Lavinia’s photography. But it’s more than that. Lavinia is able to transmit to me this incredible tranquility and sense of place through her photos, every one of them – they have a soul.

It is a pleasure to have Lavinia Cernău as my guest today, talking about her work, her favourite shooting locations in the whole world, and what makes Cluj-Napoca wonderful to live in.
Lavinia Cernau photography
Lavinia Cernau photography

photos above: Cluj-Napoca


Lavinia, do you always carry a camera with you?
Yes, almost always. If not, my trusty smartphone will always do.

What is a photographer’s most important trait?
Emotion. And the ability to relate to the subject; I believe that if you have established a connection with your subject it will easily translate into the picture. As it should, for that matter.

How did you get into photography?
Might sound as a cliché, but I got into taking pictures through Instagram. Over the past years it has honed an eye I didn’t even know I had.

Galen Rowell said: “The combination of pictures and words together can be very effective, and I began to realise in my career that, unless I wrote my own words, then my message was diluted.” How do you hope that your photos are interpreted? Is it important to you to tell the stories behind your photographs?
I hope that most of the time my photos speak for themselves – as such, my wording is rather short or inexistent, at least in recent months. However, since photography is so very personal to me, I find that words do convey a little extra about my visual experience.
Lavinia Cernau photography

The Transylvanian countryside

Lavinia Cernau photography

The Museum of Ethnography, Cluj-Napoca

Travel is an important element of your photography. Tell me, do people make the place?
I like to think they coexist, that people do take what’s the best of a place and make it their own while everything around adapts to best accommodate them. At least this is how it should be, a perfect symbiosis..

It is obvious from your work that nature is a favourite subject. What’s the biggest challenge when you work with nature?

Most probably, the weather.
Lavinia Cernau photography
Lavinia Cernau photography


Lavinia Cernau photography-2

The Transylvanian countryside

Take or make a photograph? Do you wait for a good photo? Or is it always spontaneous?
There are times when I simply witness the moment without taking any picture. I often found myself trying too much and instantly stopped and since then, somehow, the frames come to me. I know, silly, but it really feels that way.

Some of my most loved shots are spontaneous ones – the ones my subject enters the frame for a brief, amazing moment, and there you go.

When do you know you’ve taken a good picture?
When the connection I felt is translated into my photograph.

Favourite shooting location, in Romania and worldwide: The Romanian countryside and anywhere in Italy.
Lavinia Cernau photography
Lavinia Cernau photography
Lavinia Cernau photography

Lake Como

Who and what inspires you? Do you have any favourite photographers?
I feed myself insane amounts of photography on a daily basis – which is not always healthy; I could mention Alice Gao and Robert Doisneau.

Favourite moment of the day for shooting: early morning or dusk.

You are very active and have a strong following on Instagram. Do you prefer it as a means to present your work? Why/why not?
I think it has become a rather simple and accessible way to put your work out there for people to see – I also post daily stuff too, though.

One favourite thing to do in Cluj-Napoca and which you would miss if you lived anywhere else in the world: Get coffee in my favourite café and feel the vibe of the city in its laidback atmosphere.
Lavinia Cernau photography-3
Lavinia Cernau photography-4

photos above: Cluj-Napoca, the old-town

One thing you can’t start your day without: Muffin-making Felix (my cat) and kisses from my husband.

Where would we find you when not taking photos? Any other hobbies?
Cats, books and fashion.

Best travel book you’ve come across: Koya Bound, by Dan Rubin and Craig Mod. Have not held it in my hands yet, but I get the feeling it’s one of those books that make you want to explore as much as you can of this world.
Lavinia Cernau photography-1

The reed beds of Sic, Cluj

Lavinia Cernau photography

Jidvei Castle, Transylvania

Lavinia Cernau photography

The Transylvanian countryside

You wish people appreciated more: Genuineness.

If you could be anywhere in the world right now (old or new location), preparing to take a photo, where would you be?
Rome – we plan on visiting, so this is the first location that comes to mind, but, really, anywhere. You know what they say: “So many places to see, so little time.”
photos: Lavinia Cernău

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