When travel and the sense of adventure are being redefined, exploring one’s own backyard can be quite fulfilling. Travel and lifestyle photographer Lavinia Cernău (@lavinia_cernau) opens her window on her childhood landscape in Romania, and her roaming at home gives us the chance to travel from ours. As time seems to both fly and stand still, Lavinia’s images provide a delicate pause in an unspoilt scenery.
This photo series is an ode to Transylvanian countryside, my whole universe when I was a child and the place I feel most at peace with myself nowadays.
Transylvania is a central region of Romania. It is one of the most known internationally, due to the vampire legend of the infamous Dracula, supposedly inspired by Vlad the Impaler who was supposed to have lived in the Bran Castle. The region has indeed its lot of elegant castles (spooky or not), and medieval villages, witnesses of an eventful history leading to a rich cultural background. But Transylvania also offers a comforting peacefulness, definitely worthy to be as popular in the traveller’s mind. Spreading in the center and northwest of the country, the region’s name means land beyond the forest, and is the setting of a generous nature and way of life.
Whenever Lavinia contemplates the surrounding mountains, she deeply feels the words of great photographer and environmentalist Ansel Adams : "The whole world is, to me, very much alive - all the little growing things, even the rocks." Thus, she takes in the limestone formations’ grandeur and serenity...
The particular place Lavinia calls home, is located in the western part of Transylvania. The Apuseni Mountains are sprinkled with beautiful villages and numerous caves. Still an off-the-beaten track destination, this region discloses a preserved rurality, maintaining centuries-old agricultural methods. To wander in its wonderful environment, Lavinia advises renting a car and stopping along the way. Spending a night with locals is the chance to taste hearty meals prepared with locally grown produce, feel the warmth of a homemade firewater, and learn about ancestral traditions. To adjust to the pace, hiking trails roll out and take you around farming dreamscapes.
The whole region of Transylvania is scattered with villages that make for a charming sight whether in summer when round, bell-like haystacks litter the landscape or in winter, when sheeps seem to be the only living beings to wander across the frozen hills.
What ignites Lavinia’s urge to regularly come back to this beloved countryside, is her passion for horses and the calm they bring her. She stays in awe of their quiet strength, the way they simply belong to this backdrop while their silhouettes pave the way to poetic daydreaming. Through her eyes and picture renderings, the horses blend into the sky and the clouds, the relief of their muscles echoing the local hills. Bathed in the golden summer light, they invite the homecoming photographer to notice a familiar setting with a different perspective.
Rediscovering known locations, whether to find them changed or preserved allows us to recenter and develop a sense of self, highlighting the path traveled and offering a new outlook on forthcoming journeys.
Lavinia Cernău was born in Transylvania and mostly works in travel, fashion and lifestyle photography.She collaborates with renowned brands and magazines like Condé Nast Traveler, Vogue, Suitcase Magazine ... Her work is invariably imbued with a sense of nostalgic freedom and summer sensuality.