Anna Brauns is 26 years old, born and raised in Lower Saxony on the countryside of North Germany. After graduating from high school, Anna started a 2.5 years professional training at the Academy for Photography in Kiel. Part of the education was practical work with several well known still life and food photographers. That gave insight in the daily studio routine and also the possibility to take over photo projects independently. She now lives in Hamburg and works as a freelance photographer for various advertising agencies and publishing houses. Occasionally teaching photography students the basics for light settings, food and still life at her old academy. “Traveling is a big part of my life, I love to journey to the most remote corners of this earth such as the temples in Cambodia or the desert landscapes of Morocco or the crystal clearness of the frozen Baikal lake in Russia. My last trip was a dog-sled-adventure to the Arctic circle with Fjällräven (https://www.whats-cooking.com/home/fjaellraeven-polar?lang=en) and the next one is scheduled for Peru.” She shares her experience in India and the images taken with the Leica X-U.
How did you first become interested in Leica?
Once you start getting interested in photography Leica is a name you will inevitably meet along the way. There is no other label I connect more with prefect combination of sleek design and high quality parts. I was very lucky to be able to shoot many image campaigns for Leica Camera during my time as an assistant at Bernd Ebsen Studio. I believe it was also then when I developed my undying love for Leica cameras, they just fit so well in my hands! 🙂
Tell us a bit about your travels through India – why did you go there and what were your objetives?
India had me under its spell since my first journey there in 2012. Back then they told me “It´s a love or hate country, either you never want to come back or you always will”. Well, it was the second option for me.
India captivates me: its people, the culture, the colors, the food and the various landscapes. India is a subcontinent, so huge a billion human beings lives there. You have subtropical jungle, deserts and the ice cold mountains of the Himalaya. There´s so much to discover! I took these pictures during my 5th trip there.
This time had to be all about water. I was there in summer, while the monsoon has the country in its clutches for months. And I wanted to explore the south, where I hadn’t been before.
You’re used to other types of camera equipment, what enticed you to use the Leica X-U?
The weather resistance of the camera was mandatory. I wanted the possibility of taking picture in any condition, without the limitations of a waterproof protective gear. Furthermore the weight and compactness of the Leica X-U played a role, I’m used to work with a much heavier equipment, shooting with this camera was a freeing experience.
What can you share in terms of performance and quality of the Leica X-U?
This is a fantastic camera to explore Leica’s world. I would say “And though she be but little, she is fierce”. Nature has nothing on it: waterproof, dust-tight and shock-resistant with a brilliant quality. The APS-C sensor ensures sharp pictures with amazing details. All in all it is the ultimate travel buddy, I’ve never had a better outdoor camera in my hands.
You shot several landscape images as well as portraits, including subjects immersed in water. How do you judge the outcome of these photographs?
I wanted water to be the primary theme of my reportage, I wanted to capture this element in all its facets and I was impressed how diverse it could be.
I had traveled to India expecting strong monsoon rains. Life as usual, has always other plans and it presented me with an unseasonably weak monsoon, almost at its end. I had to rearrange and find new subjects for my pictures. Since the weather wasn’t being helpful I had to take matters into my hands.
The submerged portrait for example, happened on a nice afternoon with friends. We went for a swim in a jungle river, to cool off and spend some time together. Of course I could have taken this photo with any other camera, I was really happy to have the Leica X-U with me though. We had to drive on a dusty road to get there and the last part of the way was a trek where we we had to cross the river hips deep. It was so freeing to go in the water and take the camera with me! I think it was this exact mindset that allowed me to shoot such a beautiful portrait in the river.
I am also very satisfied with the portrait of the Indian woman directly after a short rain shower, I love the details and the quality of the water drops on her face.
As an avid food and travel reader, India certainly must have been a continual source of inspiration. With strong colors, scents and aromas, Indian food is quite unique. How did India impact you in terms of your food attraction?
Most definitely the plethora of dishes and scents! I love to try new things and India has a never ending variety to offer. My highlights are always the markets with their fresh, exotic fruits, unknown, fascinating smells and fabulous colors.
I prefer places out of the beaten paths, away from the masses of tourists. My advice: always ask the locals, they know the best spots and you never know where you might end, one of the best experience is to find yourself in the middle of a family dinner, with fabulous, authentic food and real people.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers; maybe other projects you’re working on?
I just came back from an incredible experience; a polar adventure. 300 km of arctic wilderness, more then 230 huskies and people from the hole world came together for a breathtaking dogsled trip in the vastness of Scandinavia.
Besides my work in the studio I am planning an Amazon expedition. I’ll have the opportunity to accompany a group of scientists in September of this year, who will be discovering one of the last unexplored regions of the world; The area of the Chachapoyas in the Amazon rainforest.
Until about 500 years ago the tribe of the “cloud people” lived there, until they were enslaved and eradicated by the Incas. Up to this day, the researchers know very little about them.
The aim of the expedition will be to find the old trade routes connecting the cities of the Amazon with the highlands of the Andes. For us there will be only one way: walking through the jungle! There is no other option, neither with the helicopter nor with the horse you get there.
I would like to do the reportage of the expedition and also portrait the people of this remote area, discover how they live and what was important to them; try out new food specialties, watch the countless biodiversities of animals and fall in love with the breathtaking landscape.
To know more about Anna Brauns, please visit her official website.