What makes you tick?

What makes you tick?
by Kristel Schneider
 
 

What makes you tick?
Photography for me and for you?

Today I read a blog post from photographer Kari Post about an interview she had with a little girl for her school project. The girl wants to be a nature photographer one day and  one of the questions she asked Kari was; do you like what you do?  “I love it, I think it is really important to find something you are passionate about. If what you are doing doesn’t make you happy, then you have to ask yourself why you are doing it.” – Kari Post

Do you like what you do? A question I think everybody has to answer once in their lives.
A couple of years ago, I also had to answer the same question and my answer back then did not start with, I love it…..and  in 2007, I made a choice: I decided to follow my spouse and moved from the Netherlands to the Auvergne| France I traded my good earning job as a communications consultant to become a photographer and devote myself entirely to my passion; photography. And if someone  asked me the same question now, in 2013,
I can say without no doubts, I love it!

Some nature Photographers who I interviewed for Visions and Nature answered with:

” I came to photography because of nature, I was always extremely interested in nature. I painted it, and as a child I was a hunter. I grew up in a culture with a very deep hunting tradition. I hunted until I started caring and feeling about animals so much that in the end I did not understand why we had to kill them. So I traded my guns for cameras when I was 14 years old. It felt so natural to me. Since then I have been out every day to look at the tracks in the snow or to listen to the birds and look at the animals. Nature for me goes very deep. Nature Photography is my language; I speak it better than English…” – Jim Brandenburg

” I have worked as art director, and later a creative director, in advertising for over 15 years. I have created myths; worlds of make belief, using images that are far beyond reality. What I like about nature photography is in the first place nature itself, but also the fact that nature can be just as impressive or touching, and often even more, than the fake world that we see on billboards and in commercials every day. In many ways my switch to nature photography is basically an escape to reality…”Marsel van Oosten

” Having worked in the fashion industry for many years as a fashion designer I realized I was always working and thinking in boxes which limited my creativity. By working as a full time nature and wildlife photographer I have now limitless possibilities in making creative  images. Moreover  nature is the most beautiful “office” to work in…” – Jeroen Stel

You can feel that they are passionate about what  they are doing, Nature Photography.
Their desire was to be in Nature, creative and enjoy every minute of it.

What would your answer be on:
What makes you tick? What would you do with your life if money was no object?
How would you really enjoy spending your life ?

Photographer Hank Perry replied on the same blog post I read today with a video link.
A link from Alan Wilson Watts (6 January 1915 – 16 November 1973) was a British-born philosopher, writer, and speaker.

I like to share with you the same link ….

What do you desire ?

Montier en Der Photo Festival 2012

Montier en Der Photo Festival 2012
by Kristel Schneider

Between November 15th and 18th Montier-en-Der (and some surrounding villages)  was  full of life again. In the village the festival spread over many different locations, from the City Hall to the local schools and other halls. You also could enjoy some great outdoor exhibitions for free.

It was my 2nd visit to Montier and again I was impressed by the many inspiring images that were on display.

In my opinion a couple of exhibitions stood out,  especially those of :

  • Jim Brandenburgusing the camera to make a difference-
    A great exhibit with some renowned images. As I knew the background of some of the  pictures after interviewing Jim in 2011, they looked even more powerful in large prints.
  • Ansel Adamspreserving the land with a camera
    A very unique show: If you knew how old some photos were you could see that he really had a vision and a feel for photography, that many of us would wish to have now.
  • Elisabeth GaillardDouceur florale
    Very colourful and delicate exhibit. This photographer has a real eye for light and  detail.
  • Xavier Jamonet, powerful landscape photography : lots of great details and colour contrast. Moreover  the way he displayed his images was a real treat for the eyes.
  • GDT  – European Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2012-
    A selection of the contest winners of 2012.  I was very happy to see this one because many of the winning images were from photographers I know.
    Altough a lot of images could also be seen in the church of Montier en Der, in the show of 2012 Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year, I personally liked this one more as the  size of the images and their display were professional and clear.
  • Michel Lecocq -B&W images from trees
    Readers who visit this blog more often know how much I love trees. This show was, in a way,  ‘simple‘ but very strong. A  selection of trees put together in great compositions. Loved it!

A Photo festival provides you with not only inspiration but also good networking possibilities. This year again  I met some nice new photographers and I could speak to those I know from social media on the Internet. Nice to meet you in person finally !

Interview with Jim Brandenburg (part 2)

Visions and Nature
Photographers interview
Jim Brandenburg by Kristel Schneider 

The series of interviews with Nature Photographers is coming to an end and I thought with Jim Brandenburg I have a real Grand Finale.  Missed Interview with Jim Brandenburg (part 1), click here.

Jim Brandenburg

Do you have any tips for Visions and Nature readers who would like to become   professional nature photographers?
Nature photography is so accessible nowadays and you do not have to shoot 20 rolls of films and be disappointed after spending a day in Nature. Today you can always come back after a day out with a happy reward and enjoy it. Do not start to see it as a business, but study nature, follow some workshops, read your Blog and fully enjoy it. When you start to see it as a business it will spoil the fun. I see it every day- people who are enthusiastic photographers next to their busy daytime job, go off on vacation and come back with some nice images and are thrilled about them. This takes them to the next stage, wondering if they can publish these nice images and then they change…. when they start to look at it as a profession next to their daytime job. It is a job what I have enjoyed for many years now and it is sad and odd to see people play in a way with your profession as a Nature Photographer by thinking they can do this ‘on the side’.  But on the other hand as I mentioned before, I love to see these people out taking photos, it changes their lives. So that is the double thing.

In addition to this, all those social media and forums are puzzling me sometimes. I do not say it is bad –  it provides people a tool to get in contact with other photographers more easily –  but it is so far from my own world.  I have been in the photography business for so long now – almost 50 years – and I have never posted a tweet in my life. Everything is changing so fast that by spending a lot of time behind the computer people miss out on the best part, walk by them selves in nature, study it and feel the intimacy – which is the best part of Nature Photography.

Do you have any exhibitions coming up ?
I have a retrospective exhibit in Germany right now and it will be in France later on in 2012. 120 Pictures, amongst which the very first one I took when I was 14 years old and the last one recently from the Dalai Lama. The retrospective is not all about nature as there are a lot of people in it actually. Share with us one of your personal favourite photographs?

My first attempt at nature photography… the red fox. I made it with a cheap $3 plastic camera with no settings available. It was shot at the same place as the Bison in winter.

‘the very first one I took when I was 14 years old’

Retrospective exhibit:
- Iserlohn Germany on the 27th of January 2012
- Salo Finland on March 16th 2012, openings talk at the Museum.

Share with us one of your personal favourite photographs?
Four of my images where chosen for inclusion in a unique collection that represents the ’40 most important nature photographs of all time’. The images were chosen by members of the International League of Conservation Photographers (ILCP) a fellowship of the world’s top professional conservation photographers and editors. And what is odd is that amongst the 4 photos they picked, three of them are also my personal favourites, what about coincidence?
Here are the four images that where chosen:

The Arctic wolf  jumping is from my favorite. Nat. Geographic story and the most rewarding and thrilling professional experience. It is also in a very remote and wild place that has always drawn and attracted me: the Arctic. I lived on and off with this family of wolves for 3 years. Much like the primate researchers do in Africa. I lived in a tent near the den and spent intense time, almost 100%, watching and photographing them. This represents a time in magazine photojournalism that is virtually gone now in that this kind of complex and expensive support is no longer possible. Photographers need to do it alone now and be self supporting. I was indeed fortunate to have worked during that time. In the 1980’s.

The Gray wolf peeking from behind a tree is perhaps my best known and most successful image. I moved from the agricultural treeless prairie to live in the remote and wild forests on the Canadian border. The wolf was the main reason to come here where I live now. The only way one can truly tell the honest story of the wolf is to live with them because they are so illusive and shy. (I have spent many weeks in the French Alps looking for wolves- only seeing tracks)  This image speaks clearly of the wolf’s illusive and mysterious ways. At the same time it pulls one in and then for some creates a bit of mystery and perhaps a bit of anxiety or fear. That is the reputation of the wolf. I shot this image within walking distance of my home.

The Oryx ( Gemsbok ) is in the Namib desert. This image along with the jumping wolf illustrates my style of putting the animal in its environment and not necessarily trying to get as close as possible. I feel it is often more important artistically and tells a better story. I also grew up on a treeless landscape where I also learned my photography. I seem to often do better in that kind of simple land form. It is in my subconscious. This was from also a Nat. Geographic story I did on Namibia. It was a full cultural coverage and also included war/battle photography during their civil war. It is the strongest image that came out of the story, nature being my main passion. This image has won many notable awards such as BBC Photographer of the Year and American NPPA Magazine Photographer of the Year awards.

The Bison in winter was taken where I grew up, the place where I learned how to do photography. It is almost in the exact same spot where I made my first “keeper” image of a fox at age 14. It is not one of my top favourites but represents an important part of my history and work. Also it is part of the group of 4 that ILCP chose so it makes a nice and compact theme. This was not shot on assignment. It also shows that I often use wide-angle lenses for wildlife.

Before our interview Jim had a look at my website a couple of times and he picked out some images that really pop out for him. We had a nice discussion about my portfolio and he inspired me to move on and follow my goals. Thanks Jim!

We walked together through some of my galleries on my website:

Winter gallery

  • The sunrise view on Puy de Dôme ; very beautiful, the pastel light in combination with the white snow. Great light.
  • Snow waves structures, the two images from the snow waves  made me think about Ernst Haas. You would be surprised how identical it looks; it is one of Ernst Haas most famous picture.
  • Road in Winter scenery, Abstract frozen shape in water; I like these.
  • Three tops in pink sunset, Love this one, beautiful lighting. I like the soft delicate pastel colors in some of your images. This kind of images I enjoy taking.

Autumn & Tree gallery
In these gallery there also several but the one that made me very happy is the Beechwood in autumn vertical. It tells you something, I can not always explain, photography is obviously something that does not need to have words to describe it, that why it is a photograph, it communicates something…..for me when I looked at it I changed, something vibrated inside me, felt familiar, it made me happy it just felt right, Everybody has a different feeling when they look at each picture. I know you have a horizontal version of the same scene but I like the vertical better, it feels together for me, feels good.

  • Cascade in wood scenery:  beautiful, it remind me of right here, it looks like my front yard.
  • Autumn hill, another images that makes me happy to look at. For me this is what France looks like when I think about it.

Dream and Mood gallery
An image that also interests me is Abstract grass in snow; lines, dots, simple and that is the kind of image I would shoot also. I like it.

Mushrooms gallery
When I started in photography I was also very attracted by mushrooms, their shapes and there colors, yours are just great! Love the purple ones; I have never seen those before ever, I don’t think we have them in the US. The first three images with these purple mushrooms (Amethyst Deceivers) are just amazing. And I like these little tiny ones with the soft focus, you call them Milking Bonnet Mushrooms soft focus.

END

Interview with Jim Brandenburg (part 1)

Visions and Nature
Photographers interview
Jim Brandenburg by Kristel Schneider 

‘Nature Photography is my language; I speak it better than English. It is a very personal intimate thing to me’.

The series of interviews with Nature Photographers is coming to an end and I thought with Jim Brandenburg I have a real Grand Finale.

Jim Brandenburg

When I first got in contact with Jim’s work I was still very young: I can remember that I was amazed by the images and it was via my parents that I had the opportunity to look in the National Geographic Magazines. It was much later that I connected, the images that had inspired me with the name Jim Brandenburg. And now when you read a lot about Nature Photography you know that Jim is a living legend and that he had inspired many other photographers all over the world.

I am very happy and honored to have this exclusive interview on Visions and Nature.
As for me it was a real personal joy to talk with Jim; he is the kind of person that speaks with so much enthusiasm and spirit that after hanging up the phone I immediately wanted to go out in Nature and take photos.
I Hope you feel the same after reading his interview that will be published in two Blog posts (part 1 and part 2).  

Short background
Minnesota native Jim Brandenburg traveled the planet as a photographer with National Geographic magazine for over 3 decades resulting in 23 magazine stories, several television features and many National Geographic books.
Over the course of his career, Brandenburg received a multitude of prestigious national and international honors for his work. Four of Jim Brandenburg’s images have recently been chosen to be part of a unique collection that represents the “40 most important nature photographs of all times.
Brandenburg was the recipient of the World Achievement Award from the United Nations Environmental Programme in Stockholm, Sweden, in recognition of his using nature photography to raise public awareness for the environment.
Brandenburg has published many bestsellers including: Chased by the Light, Looking for the Summer,Brother Wolf, White Wolf and Minnesota Images of Home.
More information about Brandenburg can be found on his web page  www.jimbrandenburg.com

Who is your inspiration?  
That’s always a difficult question as so many things influence us, but I have always been interested in art ever since I was very young.
I think all kinds of art influence us. When I was a teenager I was quite successful as a musician – I played with the Everly Brothers and Chuck Berry. Then I studied art at the university and started painting. The French impressionists had a very powerful effect on me. In photography there is maybe one photographer who inspired or influenced me: Ernst Haas. It keeps surprising me how few people know him. The work of Ernst Haas is amazingly powerful and contemporary as if it had been shot today. He was the fist person to use 35 mm cameras for magazine photography. Color and B&W.He must be almost a hundred years old now. Remarkable talent!

Then there is a whole bunch of people that inspire me, amongst whom a lot of painters. There is no one in particular that really comes out powerfully but definitely hundreds who influenced me and will continue to do so.

What do you like or do not like about Nature Photography?
I came to photography because of nature, I was always extremely interested in nature. I painted it, and as a child I was a hunter. I grew up in a culture with a very deep hunting tradition. I hunted until I started caring and feeling about animals so much that in the end I did not understand why we had to kill them. So I traded my guns for cameras when I was 14 years old. It felt so natural to me. Since then I have been out every day to look at the tracks in the snow or to listen to the birds and look at the animals. Nature for me goes very deep. Nature Photography is my language; I speak it better than English. It is a very personal intimate thing to me on the other hand I do not understand people very well especially when the world gets crazier and crazier. Even if I like a lot of people, nature is a more consistent force. It is something we came out of millions and millions of year ago, and we have to cherish it. I am always surprised that so few people have a deeper passion for nature, and how much of the world never thinks about nature.
Business like Nature Photography has changed. It has become a bit bizarre. In the old days, when we were still using Kodachrome cameras, you really had to understand photography and be really good at it to survive. Nowadays, take someone with a moderate amount of talent but who has never made a picture in their lives before. They go to the camera store and buy even a cheap camera. In the same day that someone can make a magazine-worthy picture, if they have some sense of composition.

There are ten – even hundred – thousand photographers out there doing this and they have destroyed the Nature Photography business in terms of income. In terms of magazine photography, books and photo publishing, there are so many photographers that are willing to give their images away just to be published, just for the fun of it.
And I don’t say this with anger, just if you ask me what is the worst part in Nature Photography then this has totally changed my income and I had to think about changing my perspectives, doing other things next to it such as making movies. And of course I have nothing to complain about, I am the luckiest person in the world but for those young new talented photographers it will be almost impossible to make the same career or even make a good profit in Photography as I said.

Still the good thing about Nature Photography is that it brings happiness and joy. All these thousands of people are in contact with nature, they enjoy it and they love taking photos. That makes me happy.

Do you have any tips for Visions and Nature readers who would like to become   professional nature photographers?  Jim’s answer to this question and  more will be published in: Interview with Jim Brandenburg (part 2).
Coming soon on Visions and Nature.

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