Posted on October 24, 2017
VARIATIONS IN TREES | LES VARIATIONS DE L’ ARBRES
( Available December 2017 |Disponible Décembre 2017)
– A photographic journey through uncommon compositions of an ordinary subject.
Trees, we often pass them by without even really seeing them –
– Une recherche photographique de compositions autour d’un sujet ordinnaire.
Une arbre qui nous est famillier et à côté duquel on passe sans même le remarquer –
“This book will take you in a graphical journey of subtle colors and structures, because Variations in Trees is a graphical search for the innermost impressions of the Auvergne trees. As you turn the pages, they will lead you in a dance that is both intimately photographic and deeply inspiring” –
“Ce livre va vous transporter au fil d’un voyage graphique fait de couleurs et de formes subtiles. Variations in Trees est une quête graphique des plus profondes impressions issues des arbres d’Auvergne. A mesure que vous tournerez ces pages, vous serez entraînés dans une danse intimement photogénique et d’une inspirante profondeur” –
Photographs & Texts: Kristel Schneider
Foreword: Heike Odermatt
Design : Duncan Baumbach, Creative Communications, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Translation: Fabienne Rousseau
Size: 26,5 cm – 24,5 cm
Pages: 68 + cover
Paper: Condat Perigort Matt. 170 g/m²
Printing house: Roelofs B.V., Eindhoven, the Netherlands
Edition : Hardcover
Texts: English and French
First published 2017
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 August 18, 2014
by Kristel Schneider
‘ …nature photography is just like a book, that no human being can really read …’
I can still remember the first image I saw from Heike, trees in the mist with fresh greens and a line of blue bell flowers. A strong image with great graphical lines and color contrast, this is what you see in all her landscape images. Heike has a great photographic eye. Her graphical translation of a landscape in combination with a good feeling for combining mood and contrast makes her images just ‘ pop-out’ and you hear people say ‘WOW, a real Heike ! “. My personal favorite subjects by her are the landscape details and trees but Heike’s wildlife series are also a lust for the eyes, full with action and emotions. The penguin series she took on the Falklands Islands are real story tellers. For those who do not know Heike Odermatt, I am very happy I can introduce her to you on Visions and Nature. Enjoy and be inspired by her work!
Can you introduce yourself in a few lines, explain your background and how you got introduced to (nature) photography?
I was born and bred in the south of Germany, on the edge of the Bodensee. Beautiful surroundings with a lot of nature, mountain views and a lake on your doorstep. I have always been very visually inclined and have always loved pictures, especially those of animals and nature. As a child I dreamed of being the person behind the camera, making those beautiful pictures of wild animals and stunning landscapes. I had never dared to dream that this would become a reality. My parents couldn’t afford a camera, so I reverted to paper and pencil. My motives were mainly horses, my passion. When I was 16, we made the move to Holland and a new life began. I was no longer surrounded by big nature and I was not used to being in such a crowded place that was so dominated by both people and culture. I lived primarily for my one passion: horses. Whilst being a student, I acquired my first camera. It was however years later that I had the opportunity to emerge myself more into photography. I tried all sorts of different photography, but nature kept calling. I realised that nature was my “thing“ and that it was where I felt at home. In 2002, I seriously started to work in nature photography.
When I look at your images my personal favourite subjects are the trees and the landscape details. Capturing structures and details from a landscape or an intimate scene with one tree is not easy and will be overlooked by many people. You have a graphical background, do you think this helps you translate the landscape scene into an intimate or strong graphical image ? Can you explain how you ‘scan’ a landscape before you select your frame?
My graphic background has nothing to do with my photography. As I already mentioned in my previous answer, I have always really enjoyed looking at pictures. This has probably given me a strong sense of what I do and do not like, what appeals to me and what does not. As a result, I do not take pictures according to the rules and regulations of picture composition, but purely from a gut feeling. There has to be a balance in the picture. I always try to avoid things that disturb me. Graphic lines in nature make a picture “clean and balanced“. The art is to create a balanced picture out of the “chaos” in nature. Often I hear photographer colleagues say “look at her, she is photographing the opposite direction again”. I do not stay focused on just one thing, but try to remain awake to everything that happens around me, so I can capture it.
Every photographer will enter nature in a different way, prepared or unprepared.
When you go out in the field do you already have a combination/subject in mind or do you let yourself get inspired by nature? To capture a kind a mood you need a certain type of weather, what is your favourite weather and why?
I love being surprised by nature. That is why I usually carry a lot of my equipment with me. A large number of people have an idea in their head or the sort of picture they want to capture. I am open to surprises and very often come home with totally different pictures than the ones I set out to take. My favorite seasons are autumn and winter and my favorite weather conditions snow and fog. In my archive you will not find many pictures of sunrises or sunsets, but you will find more pictures that may feel cold, unexpected and surprising. I love experiencing winter and raw nature, and my aim is to get this feeling across in my pictures.
You once said that nature photography is just like a book, that no human being can really read, every time you enter nature it is as if the book gets thicker and thicker ? Can you explain what you mean with this?
Nature is always different, every time you go back somewhere, you find something new. You should never ignore that one beautiful moment with the wonderful light, because you can return to he same spot 100 times and never see that very moment again. Nature is constantly moving, areas change, the climate changes. Fortunately, we will never be able to finish this book, and it will always be fascinating to look for new images. The beauty of this book is that there are no words in it. Nature speaks her own language and those who are open to it will understand it. And that is exactly my style of photography, my pictures tell their own stories and do not need words to tell stories or evoke emotions.
Although I understand it is very personal but I think many of the readers know that you are struggling with your health lately and for this reason you are not able to spend as much time in nature enjoying your camera. Knowing that your main goal is to feel better again I realise that my normal question in the interview series about photography goals and destinations in 2014 and 2015 feels a bit awkward so I just take this opportunity to wish you a fast recovery and hope that you can enjoy your camera soon again !
Many thanks Kristel. My first goal is indeed recovery, so that I can enjoy photography even more in the future than I already had in the past. In 2014 I will still work on my recovery and my first photographic steps will be close to home. People have asked me before why I mostly do my photography so far away from home. My answer has always been: As long as I am capable of traveling to the places close to my heart, I will do so. When I am no longer capable of that, I will find my photographic challenges closer to home. And obviously, that is what is happening now. I do however have still a lot of plans and hope that I will have recovered enough by 2015 to fulfill my dreams of photography in the Arctic, Antarctica and surrounding areas.
Share with us one of your favorite personal photographs? And tell the story behind it?
In 2002 I visited Iceland for the first time and this was also my first trip purely aimed at nature photography. In 2004 I visited Iceland again, this time with a small group of photographers, still using analog technology. During this trip we hardly had any snow and the temperature was mostly above 0°C . On the way to the Gullfoss waterfall, all we had was rain and as a result, very green surroundings. The more beautiful the Gullfoss presented itself. Due to the water flying up, it was difficult to see across to the other side – the side covered with “cauliflowers”. I took advantage of the few seconds it was visible through the mist of water. Sometimes you make a picture that you think you are going to be really proud of. The picture you cannot wait to see developed. This was one of those pictures. To me, this was the most important picture of this journey, and I could hardly wait until I got the slides of the photo lab back in the hope that this particular roll was not damaged. This picture is now 10 years old, but to me it still signifies all I love: a wintery, fairytale-like image that takes you into another reality.
Do you have any exhibitions or other events coming up?
Until now, I have no exhibitions or events planned, let’s wait and see what 2015 will bring…
Before the interview Heike had a look at Kristel’s website (www.kristelschneiderphotography.com) and picked out images that really popped out for her and she explains why:
The layering and the different stages off he autumn leaf appeal to me.
An image with a story, focused on the important things. Less is more, like in this picture.
I really love trees. They all have their own character which becomes very visible in the autumn. The softness of the colours and the structures in these two images are very well done.
© Kristel Schneider
Beautiful, silent, mystical image in all it’s simplicity. The blue in this image intensifies this feeling.