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"Even though my own wedding was cancelled on the date that was marked in my agenda, that day felt somehow different and unique regardless. I knew I didn’t want to spend it as if it was any other day, even though nothing was actually happening on that day anymore. I knew I had to take some unique self portraits with my partner to remember all our feelings on that day precisely."

Kinga is a full time photographer and an adventurer, based in Venice. Even though she loves this place with her whole heart and could spend every single day in there, you can often find her all around Europe, Asia and the rest of the globe, too. 

In 2020, Kinga caught our attention due the different series she submitted. Every single one was concerned with the topic that affected all our lives: The pandemic. One of them was her own wedding, where she took self portraits in Venice. Next one was a couple that took a trip from the States to mark their last trip together before they start a family and begin their journey to adopt. Not only the couple had a magic bond, also the empty streets of Venice had something enchanting. Recently,  she submitted photos from a session that had a huge impact, because it made us think about how to work around the pandemic or rather make the best out of it by detecting the opportunities.

1 Kinga, what made you start photography? 

Photography became a part of my life naturally when I got my first film camera as a teen. I used to be into travel photography back then and I was only taking photos without a human element in it. It wasn’t until taking this one accidental photo in Croatia ages ago that I would ever think of actually photographing people at all though. That day, my ‘perfect’ empty frame got literally photobombed by a random elderly couple holding hands and what my camera developed changed my entire view on photography and well, it changed my life. This is when I realised a photograph becomes a whole different artwork when it embraces people and their feelings within its frame. Right after that I really got into street photography and I was never afraid to get really close to anyone. It wasn’t until my friends started suggesting to me a couple of years ago that I should start doing photography for a living though that I started doing it professionally. I was a bit afraid I would stop enjoying it when doing it this way but once I finally tried I realised nothing changes when you’re a freelancer and set your own limits. It was the best decision ever. I did it to do what I love and I did it for freedom, in all its sense. 

2 After being in business for a couple of  years, how have you observed Venice change during the pandemic? Sure, the tourists are more or less gone, but where do you see the downsides and also learnings or even chances for the city in the short and long run? 

Before the pandemic I knew what an empty Venice looks like as I usually start shooting shortly before the sunrise. Believe it or not but it always makes you feel like you’re in a parallel universe when you walk the normally packed alleys all on your own. As early as 7.30 a.m. your parallel universe starts disappearing though and it quickly blends into normality, you’re surrounded by the crowds again. 

Even though I knew what quiet Venice feels like, I couldn’t imagine it being this way during the day and in the evenings, when all the shops, restaurants, museums etc are open. What I had experienced after the first lockdown absolutely blew my mind. I will never forget strolling through the deserted squares in the middle of the day, even on the weekends, seeing empty chairs in front of the cafes everywhere. It did feel magical and scary at the same time. It both felt like daydreaming and like a doomsday. 

Of course, many businesses have been suffering in Venice since the pandemics started and this has been no different to the rest of the world. The good thing about all the travel restrictions is that the Venetians got their lagoon back to themselves for a short while. It’s now possible to walk around freely, to visit our favourite places without worrying about the crowds etc. We are all grateful for this opportunity no one would ever think could happen. Nevertheless, we already can’t wait to see the travellers again since many of our businesses rely on tourism. 

3 Is empty Venice kind of a freedom for photographers? Could you take photos you always wanted to take but never could because of people being around all the time? 

I guess it’s a kind of freedom for all of those who enjoy shooting in a day or in the evenings as it’s definitely more quiet, if not deserted. I’ve been usually shooting at crazy early morning hours when it’s quiet covid or not. That means I could shoot anywhere I wanted. Well, I’m just crazy about the twilight and dawn sun rays illuminating the lagoon that I can show to those who have never been to Venice before. It’s seriously something you never forget. 

4 We talked about the different series in the introduction for short. How did you come up with the ideas for the self portraits and the Facetime session? Did these come to your mind naturally?

All these ideas popped up naturally, yes. Even though my own wedding was cancelled on the date that was marked in my agenda, that day felt somehow different and unique regardless. I knew I didn’t want to spend it as if it was any other day, even though nothing was actually happening on that day anymore. I knew I had to take some unique self portraits with my partner to remember all our feelings on that day precisely. No matter what, looking back at old pictures always helps me to recall all the feelings I had in those exact moments. That’s the precious thing you receive along with a still frame. This is what I want to give to others as well. And that’s why I came up with the idea of FaceTime sessions. Photographing people at their homes is always special. Apart from photographing their feelings you also capture their safe place, something they want to look back at after years when the colours of the walls and all the furniture had changed. During the pandemic our homes became even more to us. For a while it was our whole universe, the safest place in the entire space. I wanted people to remember it. I wanted them to remember the even tighter bond that was born between them, how they cared about each other, the precious extra time they were given to spend with each other and so on. And that’s why I started offering photoshoots over FaceTime. It’s also a great way to express yourself and be able to work with others when you can’t even leave home. 

5  What advice do you have for photographers who are overtaxed by the situation concerning Covid-19?

Think positive and try to focus on the good things that this time has given to you. No matter what, we’re all in this together and we should be grateful we are healthy and alive. Even though this time has been tough to me too, I was stressed the most when my family tested positive for COVID-19. This is when you don’t think about anything, you just want them to make it and to be healthy. Losing a couple of bookings can’t be compared to losing someone you love. 

It’s also important to remember that it’s absolutely ok not to feel ok. It’s just an illusion that everyone around has been 100% productive since the pandemics started. This time has been overwhelming for us all and since we’re all different it means some of us will use this time to stay at their 100% level of creativity whereas some others will be at lower levels. It’s absolutely ok. We should focus on our safety and our mental health first. This pandemic will be over one day and I strongly believe the world will go back to normal too. So relax, meditate, create when you feel like creating, read books, watch movies, do what makes you feel good and spend your time with your loved ones, safe at home. 

6 Think about you being on vacation: On your personal travels, what do you love to photograph the most? How do your travels influence your creativity? Do you miss being somewhere else? 

Honestly, I usually leave my camera at the hotel as I want to experience each new place with my own eyes and focus on everything I see completely. Nevertheless I always regret it as then I don’t remember it all so well! My back is thankful for that though 🙂

However, when I do shoot while traveling every now and then, I mainly focus on street photography and capture random people in the streets. Photographing other places always gives me a different perspective which feels refreshing. 

Do I miss being somewhere else? Ohhh, don’t try to break my heart now! As much as I love Italy – it’s an absolute gem in this world – I miss travelling and exploring new places so much. Travelling, right next to photography, is something that keeps me alive. A freedom of travel is the thing I wait for the most at the moment. It’s actually my first winter in Europe in years and it feels so weird! I should be in the tropics now, not in a heated apartment! I miss carrying my travel backpack all around for a couple of months in a row so much I feel pain in my heart even just thinking about it now that I can’t do it…

7 Sometimes you leave your camera at the hotel. However, what do you like to do, if you are not behind the camera in general?

I love doing all sorts of things with my partner, even if it’s being lazy or bored together! We travel as much as we can, cook a lot, deepen our knowledge of the world of wine (wine lovers here, hey!), plan future travels, watch a lot of independent movies and so on. 

During the lockdown I’ve been reading Murakami a lot. His books transfer me to a whole different world of magical realism. It really helped me to stay sane, especially during the first weeks of pandemics in Italy, before the virus spread all across the world and we were kind of all alone along with China in this new and scary situation. 

8 At times you need to travel far for a wonderful location, sometimes you don’t. Seems like you do both. But where was the best location you’ve been so far?

That’s a tough one! As of countries I’ve already mentioned Italy is a real gem and I love it eternally but a piece of my heart will always belong to Japan too. The Land of The Rising Sun is a whole different state of mind to me and I’m blown away by this place every time I go there. I see beauty in the Japanese minimalism you can spot almost everywhere. Plus going there feels like landing on a moon, every. single. time. 

If thinking of a certain place though my mind resonates somewhere between the Himalayas and the Dolomites. I still can’t decide which of these I love more. The beauty of the Italian Dolomites is breathtaking but seeing the vast scale of the eight-thousanders all around made my eyes water when I was trekking in Nepal. 

9 Tell us about your future plans! What are you excited about in 2021? 🙂 

The vaccine! Haha, I honestly put all my hopes in it and I keep my fingers crossed it will help the world get back to the previous ‘normal’. I really hope I can see all my lovers who couldn’t make it to Italy in 2020. I also keep my fingers crossed I will spend the next winter somewhere in Asia as usual.

May 2021 be good to us all! 

Thanks, Kinga! 
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