Posted on February 15, 2015
Interview Series 2014 : Final interview with Kristel Schneider
by Kerstin Langenberger, Orsolya Haarberg, Alessandra Meniconzi,Cindy Jeannon,
Andrea Gulickx, Misja Smits, Heike Odermatt, Daisy Gilardini, Sandra Bartocha
I think you do not have to travel all around the globe to find interesting photography subjects.
They are all around you!
The last of the interviews about women photographers is about Kristel herself.
In 2011, she started a series of talks with amateur and professional nature photographers. Interestingly, all of them were men. So in 2014, she decided to put some women photographers into the spotlight. I have never met Kristel in person, but got to know her through her pictures over the internet. From the very beginning, I was impressed and fascinated by the fact that her photos were all taken in Central Europe. It is easy to wow people with pictures of exotic locations or foreign animals, but it’s a whole different league to search for motives in areas that seem normal to us. Kristel takes on that challenge through a wide range of photography, capturing the mood of the European forests. Subtle details of fungi, leaves or flowers, abstract motion blurs and bokehs of the forest canopy or trees in their surroundings. Her portfolio conveys her love and passion for the nature that is all around us. (Kerstin Langenberger)
Orsolya Haarberg : After doing all these interviews with female nature photographers, do you think that women in general have a different approach to nature photography than men? No…I think the approach to nature photography is the same for both genders. They both respect nature and like to express the beauty of it. I often hear people say that women tend to capture the emotions of nature, more than men do, but to be honest, I really do not know what the assumption is actually based on. I know a lot of male photographers who are perfectly capable of capturing emotions in nature (smile). Looking at my workshop participants, it is maybe true that male photographers are more interested in the technique or in the background of their equipment. Nevertheless, I realise that this remark is also very generalised. One should focus more on what your interests are or on how you see the ‘nature’ world. Studies show (by Israel Abramov of the City University of New York (CUNY)) that the two genders have different ways of collecting visual information. Men are more sensitive to moving objects and to seeing small details, whereas women tend to be sharper in seeing color changes.
Alessandra Meniconzi: What do you think about the future of professional photography?
The photography industry is being treated with little or no respect for the professionals. This lack of respect is in my opinion, one of the main problems for professional photographers. I once read that you must not blame the economy, your clients, the weekend warriors, the high level of competition or even the lack of markets in your area but look at yourself: if you don’t run your business as a business there is no business. So it is important to make plans and be professional: respect one’s work and do not treat it like something you got easy. Another point is the quality of your work. Now that cameras are getting better and even cheaper, photography is more accessible for everyone. But that does not mean that the ‘quality’ and ‘the art of seeing’ will be the same for everybody. There will always be a future for those who can make a difference and be innovative.
Cindy Jeannon : Reading your interviews, people can feel that you really went deep into the work of the photographers. This impression was confirmed when I read the introduction of the questions you submitted to me. Your words were true and you could really grasp the idea behind my work. To dive into these photographers’ works take a lot of time. What does it bring back to you? What motivates you to do it?
When I became more and more interested in photography I remember that I just loved diving into the pictures of all those photographers from all over the world. And when I became older I wanted to grasp the meaning behind the images. I think you can learn a lot from other photographers, by reading how they look at photography, how they prepare a photo trip or just what they feel in the field. With my interviews I try to connect people with great nature photography and hope they get enthusiastic about the subject so that more people will see the beauty around them.
Andrea Gulickx : Are you preparing your images beforehand or are you going with an open mind ? I do both. I like to get inspired by nature or weather conditions, this helps me to be more creative and to try out other techniques. But I also go prepared, when I look for certain flower-species or insects for example, it is important to know their natural habitat and which season you can find them. When I have a photo-assignment, then I need to know what the best time or the best place is, to take certain shots. But even then sometimes you can get unexpected situations (change of weather) so you have to be flexible and creative with the light of that very moment.
What made you decide to be a workshop instructor ? And what did you learn from being a workshop instructor ?
When I moved to France I loved being alone in nature but it is also nice to meet new people and exchange ideas and thoughts about photography with them. I find that during workshops sessions you learn a lot from each other. Not only the photography techniques but also the way people look (at nature) and translate what they see into images. Details and textures in nature are not so easy to ‘see’ for everybody, and what is a very common subject for one can be an inspiring one for the other. This makes photography a great tool for personal expression, be it in an artistic or in a realistic way. Other interesting part is the way people work with emotions or light, it is very personal and the image result can be so different.
Misja Smits : When I take a closer look at your tree pictures I see different ways of showing them: within a landscape and in a more abstract or creative cadre. Do you agree? If yes, is this a deliberate choice? If no, how do you see your tree images? Can you explain your love for tree pictures? Would you like to specialize in one type of tree image or would you like to keep having different approaches?
I inherited my love for trees from my father. As a child I did not always appreciate the long walks in the forest. It was much later, when I took more interest in nature myself, that I saw what my father loved in trees: the interesting shapes, the colors, the power. As for me the older the tree the more ‘character’ it has. A great photography subject to explore.
It is difficult for me to just take one type of tree image, I notice that over the last couple of years I have liked to experiment more and translate my own personal feeling to nature into an image. By playing with the light or depth of field. It all depends on the personal mood and the way I think a certain nature scene comes out best. Sometimes this can be a very classical realistic translation, but captured intimately. Like some of my tree images within a landscape. On the other hand, when I think certain light conditions are perfect for a more abstract or creative cadre, I take a different approach.
In what way did your moving to France influence your photography? I was a weekend/holiday photographer. Before I made the step to move to France I worked 6 years as a communication advisor and travelled a lot. One day I decided it was time for a change in life and in 2009 I became a full-time photographer and could spend as much time as I wanted taking photos. The last couple of years my photography has changed a lot, my knowledge, my photography style, my personal interests. By creating a photography network and making plans I was able to start organizing my own photo-workshops and got my first big photo-assignment here in Auvergne. Gradually I am expanding my goals and for 2015 I have planned to have my first own photo exhibition “Variations in Trees” shown at many photography fairs and festivals. Successfully enough, the first one was this year at Festimages nature in Pays de La Loire, France (at the end of January) and the next one will be “Festival de l’oiseau et de la nature 2015”, in Picardie | France, (at the beginning of May). Then the exhibition will be in Denmark at the end of May. (See website for more info)
Heike Odermatt: What is it that you would like to achieve with your nature photography ?
I did not choose this profession to get rich but I see it more as a way of living. Being close to nature made me look different to the (nature) world. Seeing how beautiful the area is around us and also how fragile and vulnerable it is. Photography always makes me happy and I hope, by showing my work to a wider public, people will also pick up a camera and start exploring and looking for details. Once you start noticing details or play with light, you see how much beauty there is all around you. I hope I will always keep enjoying photography in the way I do now and be able to push myself to ‘ keep thinking out of the box ‘ so as not to land in a kind of pattern that feels comfortable but try to learn every time I go out in the field.
Daisy Gilardini: What does photography represent for you?
My passion, I think. Photography is for me the best way to express myself creatively. Photography makes me look at the (nature) world differently.
To put it in single words, : relaxing, challenging, learning, exploring, creating.
Sandra Bartocha : What makes a good image ?
I think an image has to be in balance. I always say, it is good to know the rules of composition but it is even better to put them aside. Composition is very personal, it is your expression, your visual interpretation of the subject in front of you. You can add emotion or create a mood by playing with colors and light. As for me a well-compost image is a balanced image.
Kerstin Langenberger: I love the fact that you don’t travel all around the world to photograph nature, but stay in Central Europe. Has this been a deliberate decision, and if so, what are the reasons behind it?
When I moved to Auvergne I had the feeling I was everyday on holiday. This region has such a diversity in nature and landscapes that I am still not bored exploring it. And every season has its own charm too. One result of the decision to move to France is that we have to live with much less income. In the past I had a good salary but no time, now it is the other way around, more time but….(smile) But as I said before it was a decision that brought me closer to nature and gave me the opportunity to explore my own living area. And I think you do not have to travel all around the globe to find interesting photography subjects.
They are all around you!
Read all the other interviews here .
Category: Genereal, Series Photographers Interviews Tagged: Allessandra Meniconzi, Andrea Gulickx, Cindy Jeannon, Daisy Gilardini, foto workshops Frankrijk, Heike Odermatt, Interview Kristel Schneiderr, Interview with nature Photographer, Kerstin Langenberger, Kristel Schneider Photography, Misja Smits, Nature and Landscape Photography, Orsolya Haarberg, photography interview, Sandra Bartocha
Posted on March 19, 2014
Interview Cindy Jeannon
by Kristel Schneider
I sometimes happen to dream about photos, imagine atmospheres and to be inspired by music, books, paintings and photography in my sleep. Then images come to life once I’m in nature.
Reading French magazine, Nat’images introduced me to Cindy Jeannon in 2011. We were both part of the publication ‘Special about nature female photographers’. The introduction explained that she had decided to live her life closer to nature and that ever since she had left her job in 2005, her live has been like a journey. Cindy’s images show that this private journey has developed into a great life experience full with emotion and creativity. Traveling in the French Vosges or in the northern part of Europe, in Norway Cindy’s images show her love for Nature. Beautifull winter mountain scenes picture impressive clouds and silhouettes or the serenity of emptiness and minimalistic subjects.
Can you introduce yourself in a few lines explaining your background and how you got introduced to (nature) photography?
In 2005 I gave up my job in computers and a way of life that was too « conventional » to be more in tune with myself and with my wish to live closer to nature, to live a life that would be “different”. I first started with a career change and trained to become an Eco interpreter. Back then I already wanted to do nature photography, but it was impossible to change everything at the same time. I therefore focused on what seemed to me then as essential: a lifestyle closer to nature. For four years I led a “nomadic” life – I lived in many different areas in France to deal with nature awareness projects all over the country – such a lifestyle lightens you up from the heaviness of the material and allows you to reconsider your views and thoughts altogether. I have always materialized my thoughts visually, or so it seems, but I started materializing my emotions through images while strolling along the deserted Atlantic coast on long lonely nights. That’s also the moment when, in Autumn 2008, I decided to start a new life again, around the main question, “how do I relate to nature?” I then started a new journey, the one of my own personal experience based on intervals of total immersion into nature, looking for the primal link that connects us together, pondering on my own personal connection with nature, on Man, on society. I therefore moved to the Vosges Mountains at the eve of winter 2009 – a very icy winter.
My photos came to life after these moments when I be one with nature, when I dived into its roots to be able to read it, feel it and express it. I have always been attracted by the hardships and loneliness of mountains and great wilderness. So in autumn 2009 I left for the Sápmi area in Lapland (in the north of Sweden) along with Jean-Pierre Frippiat. This was the first of a series of journeys to the North, mainly in Norway – journeys that I did nearly without any assistance, to be “cut off from the society ” and to make one with great wilderness, journeys where living takes over time, where you can feel nature at large. These trips – in the Vosges Mountains and in Norway – are the moments from when I have developed another language, a language through images.
When you look at Nature photographers in general you see that woman are in the minority, why do you think this is? Do you think it is more difficult for a woman to be a nature photographer? An often said, maybe cliche expression is that female photographers are not in performance but in emotion. What is your thought about this?
It is true that there are less female nature and landscape photographers than males. First, maybe because it is not as easy for a woman to combine motherhood and a field job in nature, as it could be for a man. And so it goes in a way, which is imposed on us by society, however unfortunate it is on a cultural point of view though. And then again, such is the case almost everywhere, not just in nature photography.
Then, of course, we have to take the physical aspect in account. Especially when you carry heavy equipment and bear harsh weather conditions. As far as I am concerned this never has really stopped me, although I’m not the sportive type. So, I guess everything can be dealt with even if my hiking and camping experiences with male photographer friends have shown that we don’t have the same physical aptitudes.
Now, is there a difference between photos taken by a woman and photos taken by a man? I tend to think that sensitivity and strength can be represented in both, whatever the gender. However I think that personality-traits are different depending on gender; and that can be seen in the images.
Your project ‘ Métamorphose dans l’immensité du Bleu‘ is set in Norway, what is the origin of this project and how did you prepare this project. The creative part and the travel part.
I started the series during my solitary 4-month trip in Norway in 2012, when I had planned to merge even longer into the mountains. Unfortunately, I slipped on my first base camp and injured myself. How much worse can it get when you are no longer autonomous on a self-sufficient journey? I could not walk any more, still I decided to stay in Norway, alone, and think my trip over. On the first days I had to stay in the mountains because I couldn’t walk or drive. But my original idea was still strong: the trip had to go on, I had to live it through, whatever it took. As far as I’m concerned trip and nature are both a walk into the unknown. So as soon as I could drive again, I left the mountains for a safer place nearer a water place – first the lakes then the sea. That was how my images became the reflections of moments spent near water.
As for preparations for that trip (or for any trip in Norway), I make sure my vehicle, my bivouac and of course my photo and computer equipment can be self-sufficient. For that specific trip I had planned a 4-season logistics.
I also leave with a lot of books and music, which play an important part in my inspiration, and a travel book – my writing companion on the road – but no phone and no internet.
Preparing a trip is also to organize the before and the after of the journey, in order to manage it all well.
The subjects and compositions of your images are they a resolt of lots of preparations at forehand or is an image created in the field, like you see the composition building up at that moment.
I sometimes happen to dream about photos, imagine atmospheres and to be inspired by music, books, paintings and photography in my sleep. Then images come to life once I’m in nature. I don’t focus on which lens to use, I just let myself be driven by the outdoors. This is what I call “breathing” : I inspire what nature gives into myself and expire photos. Movement and light really inspire me, hence my big attraction to clouds. I often write down phrases which express what I feel then – I generally draw lines between what I feel inside, human interactions and what happens in nature. Photography is a philosophy in life: by observing and living within nature, I get to know myself and others better.
What are your personal photography goals for 2014 and what would you like to achieve in photography in the long term? Do you have any exhibitions or other events coming up ?
I’m planning to keep expressing myself through photography. There are moments when I’m in nature and take photos and there are also moments when these photos have their own life and materialize…in exhibitions for example, or in publications. It’s also very important to share my work with others: I think it would be meaningless if it was not shared.
Exhibitions, books and workshops – that are very dear to me – are ways for me to spread my philosophy with nature ; I can observe, accompany people, I can see the changes: human nature is as rich as nature itself.
Photography is not only a means to express myself; it is also a means to make people express themselves especially in training sessions and workshops. If I had to put what I would love to fulfill in photography in a nutshell, I would say “exchange”: expressions and interactions between nature, myself and others. I plan long-term projects because things happen slowly. I draw the big lines, then combine them with what happens in my life and then gradually build things up. I have ideas and plans for the coming months, but it’s still too early to talk about them. For the coming year, I have a couple of exhibitions planned.
In April I will be in the Bird Festival in the Bay of Somme (France). Later on in October I will be at the Traveling Festival of Saint Valéry en Caux and the international Photo Festival Montier en Der.
There are other places, but it’s still too early to talk about them.
Last October GDT invited me in Lünen. That exhibition had a big impact on me, as I really enjoyed meeting and exchanging with Northern Europe and Italian photographers. I think I really love showing my work abroad, public response being totally different.
Can you share with us some of your personal photographs you like best?
And can tell us about the conditions and your emotions when you captured this image.
I chose the image of an atmosphere that pictures me the most: night and blue. I took it during my 4-month trip to Norway. I was on the Lofoten Islands at the end of August, it had be quite a chaotic day. So that night, I found peace by taking photos of the bay at nightfall. There was hardly any light. I love it when dark becomes black, when only the faintest light of hope remains. That’s what I meant to convey: even when situations surround us with darkness, there is always hope. I did a series of long exposures then.
This technique really appeals to me, as it seems to me that each image was created by nature and myself… as in a communion. I decide on how long the exposure has to last depending on light and what I want to say. Then, by looking at what movements happen during that length of time, I can imagine shapes and light traces that will appear on the image.
This is the last image of the series, the very last faintest light that could reflect on it, as of to give it more chance.
I wrote a text to go long that image, a text about the depth of blackness: The depth of darkness, Emptiness, absence, darkness, All reflecting the stars of the heart of the matter.
Cindy had a look at Kristel’s website (www.kristelschneiderphotography.com) and picked out some images that really popped out for her.
She explains why:
Coming up next, in the “Interview-Series” : Andrea Gulickx, don’t miss it!
See other interviews here