Interview with Verena Panzitt from Austria

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Verena Panzitt

Verena Panzitt, a midwife with two decades of experience in Austria, found an unexpected path in the realm of photography within the delivery room. Intrigued by the raw emotional moments of childbirth, she undertook a mission to capture and immortalise these precious instances for parents.

Interview With The 2023 European Photography Awards Winner – Verena Panzitt

1Can you introduce yourself and talk about how you got into photography?

My name is Verena and I have worked for the past 20 years as a midwife in Austria. My journey took an unexpected turn as I delved into the world of photography within the delivery room. Captivated by the raw emotional moments of childbirth, I embarked on a mission to immortalise these precious instances for parents.

What began as a focus solely on birth photography gradually evolved into a comprehensive exploration of pregnancy and infant photography. However, it was the realm of underwater photography that truly captured my artistic imagination, drawing me into its depths and allowing me to express my creativity in new and captivating ways.

2Where did you study photography?

I am a self-taught individual when it comes to photography. I honed my skills through independent learning and experimentation. Along the way, I sought guidance from various photographers to further refine my craft.

Notable among these learning experiences were coaching sessions with photographers such as Christian Zink in Weimar and Delphine Denans from France. These interactions enriched my understanding of photography and contributed to shaping my unique style and perspective.

3Do you remember your first shot? What was it?

When asked if I recall the first picture I ever took, my answer would be no. Photography has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember, so singling out the very first image is a bit of a challenge. However, I do have a distinct memory of the first photograph for which I received an award for.

Surprisingly, it was captured using a mobile phone and edited right on the device itself. This recognition marked a significant milestone in my photographic journey and highlighted the potential of modern technology in the world of art and creativity.

4What equipment do you use?

I work with a Canon camera paired with a Nauticam underwater housing to delve into the captivating realm of underwater photography. This combination allows me to seamlessly merge my passion for photography with the mesmerising underwater world. The Canon camera provides me with the technical capabilities and creative flexibility I need to capture the intricate beauty beneath the surface, while the Nauticam housing ensures that my equipment remains safe and functional in aquatic environments.

This setup has become an extension of my artistic expression, enabling me to create stunning visual narratives that celebrate the mystique of underwater scenes.

5What do you hope to achieve?

My goal in my photographic journey is to evoke deep emotions and connections through my images. I strive to capture the most intimate and significant moments of life, whether it's the miracle of birth, the tender moments of pregnancy, or the ethereal beauty of underwater landscapes.

Ultimately, I aim to create a lasting impact on the viewer, stirring feelings and memories that resonate with them. I hope that my work can inspire others to appreciate the profound beauty and emotions present in every stage of life, and to see the world through a lens of wonder and empathy. Along the way, I aspire to continue growing as an artist, pushing boundaries, and discovering new ways to tell stories through my photography.

6What compliment inspired/touched you the most?

For me, the most touching compliment is when a woman looks at her photographs and sees herself without self-criticism, feeling strong and beautiful. Knowing that my work can help someone embrace their true self, appreciate their uniqueness, and feel a sense of empowerment is incredibly rewarding. This kind of response reinforces my belief in the transformative power of art and photography.

It fuels my dedication to capturing authentic moments that allow individuals to connect with their inner strength and beauty, and to see themselves through a lens of self-acceptance and confidence.

7What inspires your unique storytelling?

My unique storytelling is inspired by the intricate tapestry of human emotions and experiences. Every individual's journey is a rich source of inspiration for me. The raw, unfiltered moments of joy, vulnerability, connection, and growth are what fuel my creative drive. Witnessing the nuances of life, from the anticipation of pregnancy to the profound moments of birth and the ethereal beauty of underwater landscapes, all evoke a deep sense of wonder and curiosity within me.

Additionally, my background as a midwife adds a layer of empathy and understanding to my storytelling. I draw from my experiences of being present during the most intimate and transformative moments in people's lives. This vantage point allows me to capture not only the visual aspects but also the emotional undercurrents that make each story unique.

Incorporating the technical aspects of photography with the emotional essence of the human experience, I strive to create visuals that resonate on a profound level. My goal is to transport viewers into the heart of the story, allowing them to feel the emotions and connections that weave through each frame. Through this approach, I hope to create a timeless and universal narrative that speaks to the shared human experience.

8What THREE (3) words describe your photography style?


My photography style is deeply emotive, capturing the feelings and emotional moments of my subjects.


My images aim to support women in their self-perception and empower them in their self-confidence. Through my photography, I strive to capture the essence of women's strength, resilience, and authenticity. By portraying them in moments of empowerment and vulnerability, I hope to inspire a positive and empowered self-image.

My work serves as a visual reminder of the beauty and significance that each woman possesses, encouraging them to embrace their unique identity with confidence and self-assurance.


My photographs tell powerful stories, weaving together visual elements and emotions to create compelling narratives that resonate with viewers.

9Congratulations! As the winner of the European Photography Awards, what does it mean for you and your team to receive this distinction?

Winning the European Photography Award means a great deal to me, as it serves as a validation of the journey I undertook. It signifies that venturing beyond my comfort zone and embracing the world of underwater photography was a decision worth making. The recognition confirms that the countless hours spent perfecting this craft and pushing my creative boundaries have borne fruit.

This award acknowledges the significance of the emotions and stories captured in the depths beneath the surface. It's a nod to the dedication I've put into mastering the art of underwater photography, which has become a unique and defining aspect of my work. This achievement is not only a personal triumph but also a source of inspiration to continue exploring new artistic horizons, all while staying true to my commitment of narrating powerful stories through my lens.

10Can you explain a bit about the winning work you entered into the 2023 European Photography Awards, and why you chose to enter this project?

The winning work I submitted to the 2023 European Photography Awards revolved around the theme of "Beneath the Surface: Unveiling the Emotions of Water." This project was a culmination of my fascination with underwater photography and my desire to capture the interplay between human emotions and the aquatic environment.

I chose to enter this project into the competition because it represented a significant evolution in my photographic journey. Exploring underwater photography allowed me to delve into a whole new realm of creativity and storytelling. The project aimed to convey the deep connections between water and human emotions – both symbolic and literal – by showcasing individuals in various emotional states underwater. The fluidity of water and the vulnerability of emotions were intertwined, creating a powerful visual narrative.

By entering this project, I wanted to highlight the unique perspective that underwater photography offers and how it can evoke emotions in a distinctive way. It was an opportunity to share my passion for this art form and to contribute to the larger conversation within the photography community.

Receiving recognition for this work at the European Photography Awards not only honors the effort invested in this project but also acknowledges the beauty and complexity of the emotions I sought to capture beneath the surface. It's a validation of the journey I undertook to push my boundaries as a photographer and artist, and it motivates me to continue exploring and innovating in the world of visual storytelling.

11How has winning an award developed your career?

Winning an award has had a transformative impact on my career as a photographer. It has opened doors and provided valuable opportunities for growth, recognition, and professional development.

Winning an award validates the hard work and dedication I've invested in my craft. This recognition boosts my confidence and encourages me to continue pushing creative boundaries and exploring new avenues in my photography.

The recognition from winning an award can serve as a powerful source of inspiration and motivation. It encourages me to continue refining my skills, experimenting with new techniques, and seeking out fresh perspectives.

Overall, winning an award is a significant milestone that can propel a photography career to new heights by fostering growth, recognition, and a broader range of opportunities.

12Name 1-3 photographers who have inspired you.

Natasha Ince

Natasha Ince's work stands out for her portrayal of women in their strength and self-assurance. Her ability to capture the empowerment of women aligns with my dedication to showcasing emotions and strength in my own photography.

Delphine Denans

Delphine Denans' emphasis on showcasing the elegance of women resonates with my approach. Her work, which highlights the graceful aspects of femininity, complements my focus on capturing the emotional essence of my subjects.

Christian Zink

Christian Zink's pursuit of technical perfection in his lighting and photography has clearly influenced my own dedication to refining my craft. His expertise in the technical aspects of photography has contributed to my growth as an artist.

Each of these photographers has left a distinct imprint on my artistic journey, helping me shape my unique style and approach to photography.

13What was the best piece of advice you were given starting out, by a mentor or your role model?

The best piece of advice I received when starting out came from one of my mentors, who encouraged me to "capture the moment, not just the scene." This guidance emphasised the importance of going beyond the surface and delving into the emotions and stories within each photograph. It taught me to focus on the human connections and intricate details that make an image come alive, rather than just aiming for technical perfection or aesthetics.

This advice profoundly shaped my approach to photography, inspiring me to seek out the deeper layers of meaning in every shot I take. It has guided me to prioritise the emotional impact of my work and to tell compelling narratives through my lens. This perspective has not only influenced my style but also enriched my connection with the subjects I photograph, allowing me to create images that resonate on a more profound level with both myself and my audience.

14What advice would you give someone who would like to become a photographer today?

If you're aspiring to become a photographer today, here are some pieces of advice to consider:

Learn the Basics:

Start by understanding the fundamental principles of photography, including concepts like composition, lighting, exposure, and camera settings. A strong foundation will serve as the basis for your creative growth.

Practice Regularly:

The more you practice, the more you'll refine your skills. Make a habit of taking photos daily or weekly. Experiment with different subjects, techniques, and styles to find what resonates with you.

Study Great Work:

Analyse the work of renowned photographers in various genres. Study their compositions, use of light, storytelling techniques, and overall style. This will broaden your visual vocabulary and inspire your own creativity.

Find Your Niche:

Photography is a vast field. Discover what subjects or themes resonate with you the most. Whether it's portraits, landscapes, street photography, or a unique niche, specialising can help you stand out.

Embrace Feedback:

Seek constructive criticism from peers, mentors, or online communities. Constructive feedback will help you identify areas for improvement and grow as a photographer.

Experiment and Innovate:

Don't be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. Experiment with new techniques, equipment, and styles. Push the boundaries of your creativity to discover your unique voice.

Build A Portfolio:

Create a strong portfolio that showcases your best work. Your portfolio is a representation of your skills and style, so curate it thoughtfully.

Invest in Education:

Consider taking workshops, online courses, or attending photography seminars to deepen your knowledge and skills. Learning is a continuous process.


Connect with other photographers, both online and offline. Networking can lead to collaborations, learning opportunities, and exposure.

Be Patient:

Building a successful photography career takes time. Don't get discouraged by setbacks or slow progress. Stay dedicated, keep learning, and remain passionate about your craft.

Embrace Technology:

Stay updated with the latest advancements in photography technology. Equip yourself with the tools that align with your creative vision.

Remember, becoming a photographer is a journey that requires dedication, continuous learning, and a passion for storytelling. Embrace the process, celebrate your successes, and learn from your challenges. Your unique perspective and dedication can lead to a fulfilling and impactful photography career.

15What is your key to success? Any parting words of wisdom?
Remember, success is a personal journey and its definition varies from person to person. What matters most is that you're fulfilled by the work you're doing and the impact you're making. It's a continuous process of growth and self-discovery.
16Anything else you would like to add to the interview?

I have a curious mindset. I approach every topic with a sense of wonder and a desire to learn more.

I dedicate time regularly to read, explore, and engage with new ideas.

I seek information from various sources, including books, articles, podcasts, videos, and experts.

I stay open to ideas that challenge my current beliefs. An open mind leads to growth and expanded knowledge.

17Anything else you would like to add to the interview?

I would like to extend my heartfelt gratitude for the honour and recognition bestowed upon me through this prestigious award. It's truly humbling to be acknowledged among such a talented group of photographers who are pushing the boundaries of visual storytelling.

This award serves as a tremendous source of inspiration, affirming my commitment to capturing the depth of emotions and the intricacies of the human experience through my lens. I am deeply appreciative of the platform you've provided for artists like myself to showcase our work and connect with a wider audience.

I am excited to continue my journey in photography, further exploring the intersections of art and emotion, and contributing to the captivating narratives that photography enables. Once again, thank you for this incredible honour and for your dedication to promoting the art of photography.

Winning Entries

Verena Panzitt

Verena Panzitt, a midwife with two decades of experience in Austria, found an unexpected path in the realm of photography within the delivery room. Intrigued by the raw emotional moments of childbirth, she undertook a mission to capture and immortalise these precious instances for parents.

Read more about this interview with Desiree Sydow from United Kingdom, the Gold Winner of the 2023 European Photography Awards.