Catherine Karnow was recently on assignment capturing Switzerland for Traveler magazine. Follow along as she shares glimpses into her work photographing the majestic Swiss landscape.
Sometimes I aim for one great shot that sums up a place. Other times, it’s fun to create a short story if the experience is, say, a weekend escape. Lake Blausee was just that. Only an hour from Bern, Switzerland, and near a main road, you feel like you are far away in a peaceful sanctuary once you arrive.
As soon as I came upon Lake Blausee, I knew that it would make a great short story. The color of the lake was a breathtaking aquamarine; I was immediately drawn in. I can’t explain it, but somehow when a place is really photogenic, there is always a good story behind it.
For over a century, travelers have been going to Blausee to stay in the small grand hotel, the Blausee, and eat the organic trout raised on its fish farm. I had seen what the place looked like online and called ahead to chat with the manager; I always get permission ahead of time to photograph, so we can be prepared.
I knew I wanted to shoot the lake, the hotel, and the trout.
Though it sounds simple, the preparation can take two days, as I shoot each subject in many ways. I take time to interview my subjects, so that I can understand the history and philosophy of the place. I want to understand what I am shooting, and, just as importantly, I want my photographs to be authentic.
An hour after I got there, the light was disappearing behind the high mountains. I knew I had to photograph the trout first. It was important that the photos in my essay exude the same look and feel and capture the pristine essence of the place. This place was all about the purity of nature. Avoiding the restaurant kitchen, we opted for the outdoor grill, where Daniele Scheitlin, the restaurant’s head chef, used wooden sticks to grill the fish. The trout was done in 15 minutes, and I can say that even unseasoned, it was the best fish I have ever eaten.
We chatted while I photographed, and I learned that the extremely cold mineral-rich water of Blausee gives the fish its uniquely delicious flavor. The trout grow very slowly, developing strong muscles, not fat, and combining that with a diet of organic vegetable feeds creates the great taste. All the ingredients in the kitchen are organic and sourced from within the canton of Bern.
That evening, in my calm guest room, I slept to the sound of the water gently lapping in the lake. Capturing the simple essence of Lake Blausee in just a few images gave me a sense of being in harmony with this magical place.
Photographed with a Canon 5D Mark III, Canon EF 24–105mm lens, and a Canon EF 16–20mm lens.