photographer + stylist, kara rosenlund

Shelter How Australians Live

Kara Rosenlund is a storyteller. In her gorgeous new coffee table book, Shelter: How Australians Live, Kara invites us into beautiful homes with interiors influenced by the Australian bush.

Can you tell us a bit about what you were like growing up, were you interested in photography as a child?
I had the type of childhood where everything seemed possible, growing up in a small street knowing everyone, Mum and Dad would have a project on every weekend. My family likes to get stuff done. It was always exciting. I would take photography classes in the school holidays while my friends were out shopping. I got interested in photography in my early teens. When I get obsessed by something, I can’t let it go. Photography took hold of me. I loved live music and it was a way to capture the emotion in front of me. Shelter How Australians Live You didn’t style the homes in Shelter. Which was your favourite interior to shoot?
Even though I’m a stylist, I thought it was essential that I simply documented the real home. I feel like we’ve entered an age that’s over-styled and not reality. I don’t have any favourite homes, as they all captivated me in different ways – it would be like choosing a favourite child.

Did you have any unexpected experiences on your travels?
There are plenty of stories in the book that show unexpected experiences. One of my favourites is when I arrived at Lucy Culliton’s house. Her love for animals was something else. I spent the evening eating dinner with a cockatoo on my shoulder and by the end of the trip I was talking like one. Shelter How Australians Live Of all the photography projects you could do, why this book now?
This wasn’t just a photography project for me. As I’m a photographer, I drive a lot and I tend to fall in love with every country town I drive into. The fabric of country towns is slowly disappearing. As I continued to see this, I had to go out and capture it. Not necessarily because they might disappear, but more to remind us all of the beauty and to inspire us to start rebuilding the communities in these amazing towns.

Can you tell us about your favourite place in Australia?
Hill End is one of my favourite places in Australia. It’s an old gold mining town that’s now inhabited by all sorts of incredible artists who’ve rebuilt most of the stone cottages.

What was one new thing you learnt about Australian homes from doing this project?
I learnt to trust human nature and instincts. You know when you walk into a home and it just feels good? This is the thing I’ll always carry with me. A home is about the feeling inside of it. The people I met on my journey have loving homes. There’s nothing like it in the world! It’s so Australian.

What are some misconceptions people may have about regional Australia?
There could be a general misconception about the liveliness of these towns, which continues to surprise us all. You always have a good time in a country town.

Favourite light to shoot in?
I love all light. I have to be up early to catch the first morning light and I follow through to dusk, as the light offers so much emotion no matter the time of day. Shelter How Australians Live Read more about the Hill End home of Genevieve Carroll and Bill Moseley (pictured above) home in Shelter: How Australians Live.

People that most inspire your creativity?
I like to be with real people. The most inspiring and creative people are those in each town who pull into service stations, are drinking in pubs or who are behind the counter of a corner store. You have no idea how much inspiration they give me!

Top 5 tips for new photographers?
I’ll give you five tips in one: just be in the environment around you, feel, look and see. Don’t get obsessed by technology, learn the basics of course, but just capture what’s around you and let your instincts guide you.

Kara Rosenlund is a 30-ish photographer, stylist, adventurer, author and storyteller who’s frequently on the road. When she returns home, it’s to her husband, Timothy O, and her three chickens, Bettina, Nigella and Trixie, in Queensland. Visit her blog and follow her on Instagram.

Images are an extract from the book Shelter, by Kara Rosenlund, with photography by Kara Rosenlund, published by Lantern, out now.

Interview: Bron Bates / Photographs: Kara Rosenlund