Winter in Italy: An Interview with Portrait Photographer Anna Karnutsch

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Portrait by Anna Karnutsch

When photographers take portraits outside it is interesting when the seasons themselves become part of the images. Some parts of the world, such as the North Island in New Zealand (where I live) don’t see much seasonal variation. But in others there’s a stark difference between the four seasons, and it’s something you can utilise as a portrait photographer to give your images a sense of time and place.

Anna Karnutsch is an Italian photographer who uses the seasons as a backdrop to her emotive and beautiful portraits. She lives in the north of Italy, a beautiful part of the world, and takes full advantage of her local environment in her images. You can see more of her photos on Flickr and 500px. Enjoy the interview:

Anna Karnutsch interview questions

Anna Karnutsch self-portrait

Self-portrait of Anna

Can you tell us a little about yourself? Where do you live and? How long has photography been a hobby of yours and what motivated you to get started?

My name is Anna, I’m 22 years old and live in Bassano del Grappa. I’ve always been attracted by photographic images and art in general (my father often lent me his old camera when I was a child to play with), but photography turned into a real passion about 5 years ago, when I bought my first digital SLR.

How would you describe yourself and your personality? This may be bit of a deep question, but how does your personality affect the way you take photos?

I’m really a complicated person (wink). I’m a perfectionist, never quite happy with the final result. I always try to improve my pictures, details are very important to me. I believe that my pictures tell so much about myself: romantic, emotional, creative… I’ve got plenty of flaws too, but I’ll save this list for the next occasion!

Who inspires you? Who are your three favourite photographers?

I belong to the generation that grew up with the internet. There really are many photographers that I love and that inspire me! But since I have to choose “only” three I would say Anastasia Volkova, Julia Trotti and Andrea Hubner (aka “Quadratinges”).

Anastasia’s photos are always delicate, sensual and fresh, I think she’s my main source of inspiration.

As for Julia’s photos, her pics are very intense! Her photos always amaze me, I find her work to be very original. I mostly love the expressions she manages to capture.

Andrea has been a recent discovery. Her photos have a certain warm vintage feel, they are minimal and touching. I love them.

What camera equipment do you use to create your portraits? And out of all your lenses, which is your favourite?

I have an EOS 5D mark II and I only use fixed-focus lenses: at the moment I’m using a 50mm 1.8 (that I will replace soon with a 1.4) and a 85 mm 1.8. The lens I use the most is the last one, it gives me great satisfaction: the blur is delicate and I found the price/quality relationship to be excellent.

I can see that you use natural light in a lot of your photos. Why is that, what is the appeal of natural light for you?

I love natural light, it conveys many emotions and makes the photo unique. In fact I’m getting acquainted to the use of artificial light only now, because of its convenience in different situations. However, for me natural light is the best!

You are lucky enough to live and study in Venice! How does living in such a beautiful place affect your approach to photography? Does it inspire you?

I live very close to Venice (yes, I’m that lucky!). It’s such a beautiful place, everything is about history and art. I would like to use its narrow streets more often as a stage for my photos, but it is quite inconvenient to move around the city. As I have mentioned earlier, I am a romantic person and Venice is basically the capital of love (together with Paris). It’s the reason why it inspires me.

Portrait by Anna Karnutsch

How would you describe the quality of the natural light in Venice? How does it change with the seasons, and how do you use this in your photos? Is it different from the light in your home town?

The light in Venice is spectacular, it reflects in the canals and illuminates the ancient buildings all around.

The light does obviously vary depending on the season. I try to avoid Venice in summer for many reasons: the heat, the crowd and the light is way too strong (my advice is to visit the city either during fall or winter, a foggy day in Venice is one of those fine things in life that cannot be missed!).

My hometown is also very rich in history and absolutely pretty; it’s crossed by a river and surrounded by mountains. The light and the colours are very different from Venice but I highly recommend a visit!

The changing of the seasons, and the colours of winter and autumn appear a lot in your work. What is the appeal of these seasons for you? How do they inspire you?

For my photos I let myself get carried away by the light that I think is the most important thing. In summer my photos are vibrant and bright, spring is usually rainy and this leads to softer and more delicate tones.

Autumn colors are my personal favorite because they are warm and earthy and sunsets are spectacular!

Portrait by Anna Karnutsch

Where do you meet your models? Do they tend to be people you know, or strangers? How important is your relationship with your models to the creative process?

I started taking pictures of friends (my first subjects), then I met a fashion agent in my area (Umberto Dall’Alba), who believed in me and introduced me to professional models.

A good relationship with the models is really important: the success of the shooting session depends on how they feel, so if I can create a relaxed atmosphere the pictures appear more natural and the work becomes enjoyable for everyone!


You can see more of Anna’s work on Flickr and 500px, and visit her Facebook page.

Photo gallery

Here are some more of Anna’s photos:

Portrait by Anna Karnutsch

Portrait by Anna Karnutsch

Portrait by Anna Karnutsch

Portrait by Anna Karnutsch

Portrait by Anna Karnutsch

Portrait by Anna Karnutsch

Portrait by Anna Karnutsch

Portrait by Anna Karnutsch

Portrait by Anna Karnutsch

Portrait by Anna Karnutsch

Portrait by Anna Karnutsch

Portrait by Anna Karnutsch

Further reading

The Natural Portrait ebook coverMore interviews with portrait photographers:

Colour and Light: An Interview With Portrait Photographer Alessio Albi
Colour and Contrast: An Interview With Portrait Photographer Cristina Hoch
The Creative Portrait Photography of Tori Mercedes
An Interview with Miss Aniela
An Interview with Photography Patrick Wack

Click the link for a list of all my interviews with photographers.

My ebook The Natural Portrait teaches you how to take beautiful portraits in natural light.


All photos Copyright © Anna Karnutsch. Please contact the photographer for permission to use in any way.

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