Travel photographer Cynthia Lynn didn’t just inherit a love for capturing her day-to-day surroundings from her father; she also received her first camera from him. “Ever the perfectionist, he kept it in mint condition,” says the photographer whose inspiring travel images caught the eye of the Indagare team (click above on the thumbnail for a slideshow of her work). She still sometime shoots with her father’s 35mm camera as she travels the world in search of new inspiration. “I truly fell in love with photography once I began to shoot travel,” she says.
Lynn, a passionate amateur cook who has lived in Italy and has shot extensively in France, Spain, Italy and the U.K., spoke to Indagare about her favorite places in Europe and the challenges and rewards of travel photography.
What do you think makes travel photography unique in the field of photography?
The experience of shooting while traveling is like no other. I enjoy shooting in the studio, but there’s something different about being out in the world with your camera. You do worry about when the sun will hit just right or when will that man walk through that door, but the unpredictable is what makes it such a great experience.
What are some of the places you have found most inspiring on your journeys?
Having spent a great deal of time in the Italian countryside, I’ve learned a lot about the Italian way of life. They cook and eat with the freshest, most sustainable ingredients. Italians walk almost everywhere or as much as they can, keeping an active lifestyle that I believe keeps everyone looking so young. And they always put family first, something I feel strongly about. Being in Italy inspires me to keep my life simple, and stick to the basics.
How do you shoot people?
People have stronger emotions about photographs these days, for fear of what might end up on the internet, especially in metropolitan areas. You never know what kind of reactions you’re going to get when you walk around with a professional-looking camera. I find most stray away from it, merely because of its size. Most people aren’t as bothered by point-and-shoot cameras. I always try and ask before I shoot someone head-on and sometimes get the reaction I want, other times I don’t. If I want to catch someone in a particular moment, I usually just go ahead and shoot; stopping to ask permission has the tendency to ruin the shot and eliminate that spontaneous element. It’s also difficult communicating in a foreign language, let alone trying to explain to an 80-year-old Italian how you would like him to pose.
With such iPhone apps as Hipstamatic and the easy usability of post-production softwares, many consider themselves photographers these days. Where is the line between amateur and professional drawn?
I do believe the applications on the iPhone and Hipstamatic serve a purpose: to be fun and provide instant gratification. It’s wonderful that so many users can express themselves in a creative way, but it doesn’t make everyone a professional. Just like everyone who touches a frying pan isn’t an amazing cook. To be successful at anything it takes time and patience, and a lot of hard work. With photography there comes skill and talent, which has to be there before anything else. I come from the generation that used analog, so I know what it’s like to shoot with film and still do. I remember cross-processing my film to get the look that these apps generate in only seconds. I’d have to wait days before I could get the results that appear instantly! And of course, shooting with an iPhone or iPad doesn’t compare to the results I get from my Hasselblad.
You have lived and traveled extensively in Italy. What are some of your favorite regions and why?
One of my favorite regions in Italy has to be Tuscany. I’m in love with Montalcino, a very small city in the heart of the Brunello wine region. It has a great little town center with a 14th-century fortress, which has been turned into a tasting room. Visitors can climb to the top of the fortress and walk the perimeter of the building and have amazing views of Tuscany and the rolling hills of vineyards. At sunset it’s absolutely beautiful, especially with a glass of wine.
Siena is another favorite Tuscan city. Also a medieval town, it has a little bit more of an urban feel with a few shops, places to eat and a more bustling atmosphere. In the center of town lies the 13th-century Piazza del Compo, the original open-air marketplace and venue for the annual Palio horse races. It’s a wonderful place to sit and relax on a warm summer’s night and the piazza feels the same as it must have in the middle ages.
You are a passionate chef. What were some of the most memorable cooking classes you have taken and why?
Castiglion del Bosco in Tuscany has pizza unlike any I had ever tasted. They start with the freshest ingredients, grown in the property’s garden (just outside the kitchen). Tuscany grows some of the most amazing tomatoes; this is what makes the sauce so amazing. They also use very little yeast and let the dough rise overnight; this is what keeps it so crispy and light. The key factor in the whole process is the wood-burning oven. My husband and I took their pizza-making class, and it was just us with the chef, who was very personable. Learning how to make pizza with a good glass of Brunello on a cool fall afternoon was an incredible experience. We’re determined to someday build a pizza oven in our yard.
When visiting the Burgundy region region, I would suggest staying in the town of Dijon and traveling southwest towards Beaune. Dijon is one of the largest towns in the area and in my opinion is a perfect central location. Driving the wine road of Burgundy is similar to visiting Napa, where all the wineries are just off the main road. It’s very easy to make stops along the way and everything is very condensed, which makes for an enjoyable drive. Some of my favorite wineries in the Burgundy region are Joseph Drouhin, Michel Voarick, and Charles Thomas.
Can you share with us the story about your wedding planning, which lead to you living in Italy?
When my husband (then fiancé) proposed in April of 2010, we knew we wanted to have a destination wedding and the only location would be Italy. After having our original venue cancel on us, we decided to stay in Italy for six weeks while we shopped for our venue. We rented an apartment in Rome on the Via Margutta, and traveled throughout the country, Spain and the UK. We finally decided to have our wedding at L’Andana, a small property just outside the town of Grosseto, near the seaside in Tuscany.
Do you sell your travel photography? Do you have any upcoming shows?
All of the photos on my site (www.cynthialynn.com) can be purchased as prints or stock. I do all of my own printing on archival papers and can print up to 24 inches wide. I am also currently part of a group show which will run from January 12-20 at the Calumet Gallery (22 West 22nd Street, Second floor, New York City).
Read Indagare’s Five-Day Itinerary in Seaside Tuscany