“I didn’t grow up in a creative environment,” begins travel photographer, Carmen Huter, “but I was surrounded by beauty and nature every day, living amongst the Austrian Alps. It was really when I travelled to New Zealand at age 18, to study and to see the world, that something clicked – in my case, literally. The experience of leaving my tiny little nest for the first time, flying for so long, all on my own, and arriving as a kid in this new country where I didn’t know anyone… It actually made me feel free and I wanted to capture that feeling, and what I saw and pass it on to others.”
“I basically decided that travelling was pretty cool and much more accessible than I’d thought as a kid,” she continues, “and of course there’s a lot to see in the world, and a lot to learn! So I ended up travelling all across the globe, living and working in a few different countries.” Now a professional travel and commercial photographer, Carmen “shoots mostly landscapes because they inspire me,” she explains, “and that feeds into work with the tourism industry, where I create for a number of different clients including airlines, hotels, consumer goods and magazines.”
Though she also shoots ‘regular’ landscapes and interiors, lots of Carmen’s work is characterised by including human figures in her scenes, sometimes herself and sometimes models. It’s something she says is squarely aimed at communication and helping the viewer place themselves in that environment.
“It’s definitely a newer thing in landscapes,” she says, “and it’s also appealing because we’ve seen so many traditional landscapes shot in a traditional and polished way. Adding a human element means we create something new, and in some ways, I think it also helps us realise that when we’re travelling, we’re part of the planet, not separate from it.”
Usually travelling with her Sony Alpha 7R IV, “my go-to lenses have been the FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM, the FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM and also the FE 35mm f/1.4 GM and FE 85mm f/1.4 GM,” explains Carmen, “but as soon as I saw the new FE 14mm f/1.8 GM, I knew it’d fit right in, probably replacing the 16-35mm lens for me. Despite being a high-quality G Master lens, with a big maximum aperture of f/1.8, it’s so much lighter and smaller than I expected it to be. And that’s vital for when I’m hiking to locations or carrying my gear as hand luggage. And yet it’s still very sturdy and weather sealed, which is also important for the places I go.”
“The other thing that came straight to mind with this lens,” she continues, “is how useful it’ll be in my commercial photography for hotel interiors and similar. Having such a wide angle that is so sharp corner to corner, thanks to its two XA (extreme aspherical) elements is going to be extremely useful for those sorts of images, and there’s virtually no vignetting to be seen.”
Whether it’s working in those richly detailed interiors, or out in the wilderness, a wide-angle lens is vital for Carmen’s work, she says, because when it’s used, the viewer can almost reach out and touch the scene you’re recording. Combined with the shallow depth of field created by the wide maximum aperture, “I’m going to find it so useful when it comes to shooting big landscapes where there’s also nice foreground interest, like wildflower fields. That sharp focus on the foreground is always a great way of grounding the viewer and passing on your experience.” The FE 14mm f/1.8 GM’s speed also lends itself perfectly to astrophotography, Carmen says, “and ever since unpacking it I’ve been praying for clear skies!”
“But with its fast and quiet AF, this is really a specialist lens that can be used for so many subjects,” she finishes, “whether that’s travel and landscapes, real estate, commercial subjects, low-light, and even weddings. But overall, a speciality prime lens like this can help photographers who’re looking to try out new things, new angles and new perspectives. It’s a lens that pushes your creativity and it’s definitely pushing me to get out and create as often as possible.”