Lara Caspari: Building a Collection
Taking friends and family on a journey from your coffee table.
Storyteller: Lara Caspari, Germany
What inspires you to take photos?
My day job is in a corporate environment in the industrial sector, but photography has become a true passion for me. It’s my creative outlet, a hobby that I can take with me everywhere I go, even on my business travels—it gives me balance. I take photos to capture the moment, to freeze a little piece of it forever. Whenever I go back and look at photos from trips we took a while back, I remember the stories behind them, the way I felt back then, the smell of a place. It just brings it all back. Also, I love being able to share our experiences with our family, friends and even strangers. Giving them a glimpse into a foreign place and allowing them to see it all through my lens, perhaps even inspiring them to travel there, can feel very rewarding. Ever since my husband picked up on videography himself, it’s become even more of a passion for us that we love to incorporate into our travel adventures.
Why did you create your first photo book?
I found MILK Books when I was looking for professional-level photo albums for our wedding pictures. I didn’t want our photographer to create one for us, because I wanted to pick our favorite shots and design our album myself. Many services recommended by photographers are for (registered) professionals only, but then I found MILK Books! I love the option of creating high-quality albums for special occasions as well as travel photo books with linen covers and a choice of designs, papers, covers… The first photo book I created was of our trip to Nepal. It was sort of the “test run” before ordering all the wedding books, but it’s actually still one of our favorites. Since that time, I keep creating these books for all of our trips!
What themes do you create for?
Mostly travel—one trip usually gets its own album. I love that we get to share our photos with dinner guests or family this way, it’s just so different than looking at a screen and flipping through single shots. Our Nepal album has been an especially popular coffee table book in our living room—very few of our friends have been to Nepal and it isn’t getting much coverage on social media yet, so they’re curious!
Why do you continue to create?
First of all, I have to say that creating these books is actually a ton of fun to me. But what motivates me most to keep making them is to build up a collection of all our major travels and moments to treasure forever. To me, the memories that we have printed are usually much more present than those that just end up on some hard drive. Whenever I feel the wanderlust crawling up to me, I flip through our photo books and it’s like I’m on vacation for five minutes!
How do you select what photos make it into your books?
I usually make a selection of favorites that are a good mix of people shots, detail shots, landscapes etc. and add all of those to the library online. Then, as I create the pages, I use maybe half of them, depending on how they work together on the page. Sometimes I’ll add a similar photo of the same thing (one portrait, one landscape) to the library at first and then decide which one works best in combination with the other photos and the page layout. I look at each page as a collage – the photos should work together, not just individually.
What are some of your favorite images from your books?
It’s so hard to pick just one! So here’s my favorite three: This one (above) I love because it was such a spontaneous snap from inside a driving car with the windows down. We were headed to the airport to go back home after our ten days in Nepal, and I was sad to leave—I absolutely loved getting such an authentic glance into a country so different from Europe. I saw this lady just standing at the side of the road and I instantly picked up my camera and shot! Thank goodness the camera settings were already correct…
I love this image (above left) because it’s so natural—there’s absolutely nothing posed to it, those kids were having the time of their life. Notice the right one is holding a toy-pistol? I remember looking at these two kids thinking: There are so many differences between the people here and the people back home, so many differences in culture, language—but here we have two kids on a sunny afternoon playing, pretending to be cowboys/police officers/whatever... Not that different to kids everywhere in the world, after all! I like this shot (above right) mostly for its golden hour light and colors. I love how the two monkeys are perfectly positioned in the sunset overlooking a temple in Kathmandu, going about their day as if no one was around.
What is your favorite story behind an image in your book?
When you flip through the book, you might be a little bit confused as to why we are eating traditional German “curry wurst” (sausage with curry sauce) on one page. Funny story, when we arrived in Kathmandu on day one and checked into our hotel, we couldn’t believe our eyes when, suddenly, an old friend of ours from university stood in front of us. We knew him to be half Nepali, but we met and studied in Germany, so we were so surprised to run into him in Kathmandu! We then learned that he had moved to Nepal with his mother and now runs the family hotel, and it was such a delight to see him again and meet his fiancé—and of course get to know the city with locals! Now, to get back to the photo: to bring some of his half-German roots with him to Nepal, the two of them actually opened a “Currywurst-Bude” right in the middle of town, so of course we had to try that for lunch one day! What’s more meaningful to us is that, after meeting again in Nepal, we are actually back in touch after losing sight of each other for a few years after university, which is the most important part of the story to us. I love how travel can connect people this way!