Artist in Focus - Carina Okula
After residing for three years in Spain and Portugal, Australian Carina Okula arrived in her adopted country France in 2001. In a culture filled with crunchy warm baguettes, lighter than air pastries, and gorgeous wines, Carina seeks out the hidden charms of the City of Light and the tranquillity of the much-adored Gallic countryside.
Prior to Europe, Carina had a previous life in print media: Marie Claire Australia, MODE (now Harper’s Bazaar), along with other wonderful titles that haven’t survived the evolution of the digital world. Arriving in Europe on a spouse visa all those years ago, not granted permission to work, Carina turned to her camera for passion and joy.
How would you describe your photography?
I never really think in terms of how to describe my photography as it’s hard for me to put a label on what’s in front of me. People comment that my images are dreamy – so perhaps that’s an apt word, dreamy… places that we’ve been, or want to go, the magic of where an image can take us to, a memory made or one in the waiting… the stuff of dreams.
How do you feel when you work?
Blissful. I love what I do – my husband comments how it isn’t a chore for me as I enjoy it so much and he is one hundred percent accurate.
How have you adapted to current restrictions?
Lockdown was a time for reflection. My family spent lockdown apart – my husband in one country, me and the children in another. It was a tough experiment in resilience but one that brought home what really matters in life.
Photography assignments have been cancelled and some destinations I had planned have been pushed back. Once confinement ended and borders opened, I headed to Italy where I packed in four weeks of photography. Now I’m sticking closer to home, seeking out different places in Paris.
What are you trying to communicate through your photography?
Be it a romantic image of Paris, a quiet moment in a café, a gentleness of the ocean, a happy capture of colour - I like my images to take me to a place and remind me of a moment, hopefully they do that for others as well.
What inspires you? Artist, Photographer or otherwise?
Gosh, where do I start! Living near Paris where so many great photographers found their inspiration. I lament not being around when photography was somewhat more pure – where an image of a moment in time didn’t come with the anxiety of needing authorization slips. How I would have loved to hang out under foggy Parisian street lights with Brassaï… or take me back to Australia with Max Dupain and Olive Cotton.
From the past to the now, I am in awe of work created by my peers and mentors Jackie Ranken, Marina McDonald, Clayton Hairs, Caroline Fraser, Alessio Fangano and many others.
Do you have a favourite photograph of your own?
Just one? I have so many favorites that it’s difficult to zoom in on a standalone image. So many memorable images taken in Paris, so many peaceful captures by the sea. If you pushed me against a wall and forced me to choose – I would opt for the set of my two ballerinas in Paris. They are about a beautiful friendship, an innocence, a purity, a delicateness.