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Lavinia Cernau's Golden Light


She had us at "liquid gold". 

We found a soul sister, and muse, in exceptionally talented photographer Lavinia Cernau. Not only does she spend most of her time chasing sunsets, she is most inspired while exploring new places, embracing the local culture, and paying attention to the details – preferably in proximity to the sea, with wind in her hair. She's become an expert at capturing that perfect golden Mediterranean - Aegean - Adriatic light. And to top it all off, she has a soft spot for Balearic treasure island, Mallorca. She's dedicated a whole Instagram Highlight to "Summer Skin" and her entire repertoire is an ode to high summer living. She gets us and we get her.

Naturally, we wanted to know about her favorite destinations, which she said: "I find myself drawn to nature and sea. I always say to myself, I'm an island girl at heart. My favorite is Italy for its dolce far niente mood and easy to be around people. Apart from its coastal beauty, I found that the area of Como makes me long to return; there is just something so magical about mountains surrounded by water".

We've long admired Lavinia's work in publications such as Condé Nast Traveler, Suitcase, and AFAR, and it's an honor to feature this interview alongside her unique photography on Golden Edit. We need more girls like you inspiring the next generation of women travel-fashion-lifestyle photographers.    

Tell us about your upbringing and where your love for photography stemmed from

I was born and grew up in the mythical region of Transylvania, Romania – which is what I call home to this day. My sister and I spent most of our childhood summer months in the countryside with my grandparents. I now know it was the peacefulness and the simplicity of life there that made me who I am today. We used to take a lot of pictures on film, my sister and I, but it was only some years ago that I found photography to be my calling, my way of seeing the world anew.


What made you focus on travel and lifestyle?

I actually began sharing photos of the Transylvanian countryside as I felt and still am tightly connected to my roots; we escaped the city at weekends and so the sheep landscape or the haystack sunset would often catch my eye. From those scenic landscape moments I would start to notice all the little things that made seasons so very wonderful in their own particular way and started to bring wild flowers or autumn leaves in and create stills around them. In time I developed a love towards sunset light, that golden light that no matter the season bathes everything in amber hues and makes a painting out of the most ordinary of scenes. I began chasing those golden moments that give you the feeling that everything is possible and make for those cinematic stills that remain imprinted in your memory. It still gives me great pleasure when people tell me they just know a certain image is mine just by the light that’s captured within that still.  


You're based in Transylvania, Romania, which you wouldn't guess by looking at your sun drenched Instagram. Give us a snapshot of what living there is like

I actually do have some images from this fantasy Dracula land that I call home, too. Life here is not at all hectic, it has a slow pace that I love and identify with – especially in nature, where I seek to be spending my time the most. I love to see the seasons change and while my Instagram is also a “sun and sea” moodboard, my viewfinder will also return to the transhumance or haystack-filled landscapes that are so unique to this area of Europe.


Lavinia Cernau

Transylvania has a number of resort towns, famed for their therapeutic waters – what would be your advice for anyone visiting for the first time?

My birth town is actually one of them; the neighboring Baile Felix resort is worldwide famed for its thermal waters and many flood there even in autumn to benefit from their regenerative powers. We’re beyond lucky to be blessed with such natural wonders and my only wish is that the leaders of this country would focus more on restoring and building around our amazing gem.

Where and how do you find inspiration?

Mainly in photo books, old movies, but I'm most inspired when I travel. It's all in the wander of exploring a new place with a curious mind, an openness to the locals, and just paying attention to details. Coming home with a full heart gives me a creative energy like no other.

Any tips or tricks for achieving that gorgeous, vibrant golden hue that decorates all your photos on Instagram?

First, shoot when approaching golden hour or early in the morning; it's easy when the light is pretty much engraved in your shots straight from your camera and all you need to do is tweak the brightness and shadows afterwards. 

Oh, hi there sunshine!

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