Autumn has arrived and for October our Photographer Of The Month series take you to Venice, Italy to discover Kinga Leftska’s photography.
Kinga Leftska is a wedding & engagement photographer based in Venice, Italy. The team has selected her to be October’s photographer of the month. Dive into Kinga’s world through this interview.
Kinga, what is the one thing you wish everyone knew about you but (almost) no one does?
Kinga: No one knows, or rather no one believes, that Kinga is my real name – it really is! No matter how strange it may sound to some of you 🙂 Also, I’m a woman – some of my clients were expecting to see a guy at our meeting spot. True story! (There’s a photo on my profile but it still happens…). Yes… 🙂
How did you get into photography?
Kinga: I am self taught and I think every candid and lifestyle photographer should be. How did it all happen? Even though I’ve had a camera in my hands for years now, it had been just a tool to photograph my travel escapades first. For the first years I had been mostly focused on photographing sceneries, towns, abandoned places, cloud formations etc. Then, one day I accidentally captured and elderly couple who kind of photo bombed my picture…
Few years ago, on a day like any other, I accidentally witnessed a very touching, intimate moment between two elderly people somewhere in Croatia. The moment had a profound affect on me as I felt this sudden urge to capture more of those, to freeze these moments in time, so I could return to them, hopefully share them with someone else one day and keep them alive over the years to come. I picked up my camera, clicked the shutter again and what the camera developed transformed my life.
As the image revealed itself to me, I suddenly grasped the inherent value and enormous power within the photograph as well as the infinite possibilities for me as a photographer. The ability to stop time, to preserve a memory, to remember a moment forever and to share an experience with someone else was priceless. After taking the photo mentioned before, I was struck by the feeling of honour for being a part of a significant experience in these two individuals’ lives, hence I had this sudden and consuming desire to fill my life with such rare and precious moments. In an instant, I became aware of of the fact the the passion for street and lifestyle photography started growing in me and that I want my life to be always connected with it. On that day I understood that an image without a human in it isn’t alive, it isn’t complete. Being drawn to the open and honest display of emotions I began photographing various events and random people on the streets, searching intently for rare and intimate moments that happen once only.
Where were you born and how did you end up where you are?
Kinga: I was born in a land of thousand lakes in North-East Poland. I spent my childhood growing up in a small village, dreaming of seeing the world. The older I was getting the bigger the desire to travel was. Since my parents have always been busy working on their farm, they never travelled abroad because of the lack of their free time. Hence, I ended up going abroad for the first time only when I was 13 or so. It wasn’t anything exotic – Czech Republic, Germany, The Netherlands – though, it was enough for me as a teenager to get addicted to traveling. I ended up seeing most of the European countries within the next few years and then started traveling to different continents. What’s more, the very first trip made me buy a small digital Canon camera – this is when I also became addicted to photography and the post processing. This is exactly when I started playing with photo editing and discovered how much an edited photo can differ from its original version – even though I had no idea RAW files existed!
When I was in primary school I was already dreaming of graduating from a university for a sake of living abroad and traveling. The big day finally came and I moved abroad shortly after doing my Master’s in teaching (I studied TESOL only to be able to travel and work as a teacher anywhere in the world). I ended up living on a rainy island first and spent there almost two years discovering that neither teaching is what I really love and want to do in my life nor I want the rain to pour over me every day. One rainy day I decided to book a flight to Italy and catch a bit of sunshine over there… Few days later I was standing breathless and speechless by one of the Venetian canals watching the lagoon waking up under the rising Sun. By that day, photography had always been the second (if not the first) biggest part of my life. I had been spending all my free time doing street photography and human photography, taking part in the contests, playing in Photoshop and Lightroom, listening to my friends and family saying:
Hey, you should start doing it for a living, why don’t you??
In this exact moment, looking at the old renaissance and baroque architecture floating on the glittering water, I thought ‘Yes, photography. Photography in Venice. This is what I really want to do!’ And I did. It took me three months to quit my job, find a place to live in Italy, book a one way ticket and pack only one big suitcase. The next few months were a bit of a hard but oh how enjoyable work – building my portfolio, creating a website, finding first couples in love. After few months everything was ready to kick off and it did! By now I have met and photographed couples and families from all over the world and keep traveling far far away. The best thing is – even when I stay in Venice for a long time, I get to meet couples from different parts of the world and different cultures. Hearing their stories and learning how things such as relationships or wedding ceremonies work in their countries give me a feeling of traveling – this is the best thing that could ever happen in my career life! I am absolutely addicted to what I’m doing.
What is the most difficult part in becoming a professional photographer?
Kinga: Well, I wouldn’t say anything was difficult as I am aware of the fact that making your dreams come true and working on something that requires turning your life upside down is always difficult but that’s just the way it is so there’s no need to complain about it as hard work usually pays off anyway. The only difficult thing I had to face at the beginning of my pro career was something I didn’t expect to happen at all. I was plagiarised by another photographer, who even lives and works in the same place. All of a sudden I started receiving emails from my potential clients asking me if I’m even real as there is another photographer in Venice who showcases exactly the same content. I was really upset as I felt all my hard work went nowhere as someone just took it as his own. Fortunately, after getting in touch with the other photographer he apologized and removed everything he had stolen from me. Some of my friends were even joking that I am just so good that the old pro photographers decided to steal a little bit of my goodies. But honestly, I don’t need that kind of appreciation!
How would you define your style?
Kinga: Raw emotions, natural light, true smiles, no tripod, geometry, architecture and flowers – love is candid!
On my photos I try to show stories – stories built on emotions, smiles, tears of joy, fears or happiness… The best shots are the candid ones – I am sure everyone sees a posed and a natural photo different way and the candid one is always more appreciated and cherished over the years. I shoot in the golden hour or right after the sunrise – it’s all about the love and the light.
What was the best photoshoot you’ve had so far?
Kinga: It’s so hard to choose just one. I absolutely loved all the funny, exciting and sometimes thrilling surprise proposals I have photographed. Honestly, each time something funny happened – once a guy spent only half a second on his knee, once a girl bought a massive bar of soap and her fiancé to be had no idea how to get rid of it so it’s not in the pictures – he gave up right after wondering for half an hour wether to eat it or not;), once a guy was so excited about his proposal that he actually proposed in a totally different spot than agreed so I had to run half a mile to capture the exact last second on his knee (scary!:)), some of the guys got lost as Venice is a maze but eventually they all made it, they all heard ‘yes!’ and each proposal picture came out mind-blowing.
Apart from all the proposals, I absolutely loved photographing a wedding of Rasa and Martins from Latvia who came to Venice with their 2-year-old son, Reinhold. The little man was dressed up the same way as his dad was, and he was an absolute stunner who made each photo more magical and what’s even more important – more natural and candid. You can see this little lovely trouble in one of my favourites below.
What is your dream photoshoot and where?
Kinga: I have many dreams regarding photography. One of them is a rustic wedding in a foggy meadow, somewhere in the mountains where the sheep or cows wander around.
Any advice for future clients who want you to capture their love in Venice?
Kinga: I suggest booking a sunrise photoshoot as Venice gets very busy after 9am, no matter what month of the year we’re in. In this way we’ve got unlimited locations to choose from and all the freedom and privacy you might need.
When it comes to your outfits – wear whatever feels comfy to you and whatever feels like you – the only thing you have to remember is your outfits must match to each other. Bring some smiles and good vibes with you and you’ll be just fine – be close to each other and try to forget the world exists. I’ll capture it.
What are your 4 favorite images ever? Could you tell the story for each one of them?
- Hill tribe minority girl, Myanmar.
One of my favorite shots of all time. I took it in Myanmar when hiking up the hills to meet one of the hill tribes – Palaung. I met this little girl on my way up in the middle of nowhere, near a small cottage high up the hills. Her face was covered with thanaka – a paste made of ground bark to protect the skin from sunburn. As soon as she saw me she got fascinated by my camera and the fact that she could see herself on its screen – children in Myanmar don’t tend to have any toys and seeing a huge dslr only happens when they get to meet a foreigner. She was all busy clicking the shutter when suddenly a cat came over to us. As soon as she noticed it she forgot the camera and grabbed the cat to give him a fuss and cuddle him tenderly. I captured this precious moment when she’s all about the cat and her love to animals rather then the electronic stuff she probably only just discovered.
- Rasa and Martin and their little man Reinhold I mentioned before.
When I thought I was able to capture the couple on their own, Reinhold somehow managed to hide under his mom’s wedding dress and did the cutest picaboo I have even seen. I absolutely love this shot! The photo was taken right after the sunrise, off the beaten Venetian path.
This photo, on the other hand was taken in Rome since I tend to travel for photoshoots as well. Nam and Tome came to Italy to celebrate their wedding anniversary and scheduled two Photoshoots with me – one in Venice and one in Rome.
I love how perfect the match between the dress and the building on this image is. This photo shows my addiction to architecture and geometry pretty well.
- Steven and Laura.
This is one of the engagement shots I took for them right after Stephen’s surprise proposal. Due to some troubles getting to our spot on time, Stephen proposed at the dusk, hence we had to take all the engagement shots afterwards after dark – with natural light only obviously! I love how intimate they look on each and every shot and how romantic each one turned out. This one looks like a screen shot of a movie scene, doesn’t it?:)
- The triplets.
Tanya and Glenn brought their triplets to Venice on their way back to the States when heading from Croatia – they only stopped in Venice to arrange this photo shoot with me – how lucky am I?! The kids were just being themselves – they were being the kids. Running around, pulling goofy faces and laughing laud – even though it was shortly after 6am! I love this candid moment when one of the siblings is running around, pretending she’s a butterfly, when an elderly local gentleman is walking slowly to a nearby cafè. I love how pure the beginning and the end of life is visible in this image and how energetic the youth is shown. Again, the power of candid!
If you are travelling to Venice, head over to Kinga’s profile to discover more of her work and book a photoshoot in Venice with her! You won’t regret it!