Photography copyright © Stefan Hefele. All rights reserved.
1. What according to you is more important in Landscape photography, right location or right time?
This question is easy to answer. It´s the right time. Why? Because right time means nice light. With nice light one can make an average location to an outstanding location.
2. What are the main factors you consider before deciding on a shoot location?
I always try to shoot locations which speak to me. This can be a totally unknown place somewhere in a remote forest or a well-known place. If the location appeals to me, I shoot it in a way I´m feeling the location. Second thing is the weather. Best case is lots of clouds and some sun early in the morning or late afternoon. In some cases I prefer fog.
3. Do you have a set of preconceived images you aim to achieve before going on a shoot?
This is totally different. Some images arise spontaneously out of the situation. Some images are already created in my mind. From other motifs I’ve already seen beautiful pictures, I try to implement with my ideas.
4. What is the biggest source of inspiration for you as a landscape photographer?
The biggest source of inspiration is my mind. I´m a huge fan of fairytales and mystic stories. I’m a dreamy person and always find inspiration while dreaming. Of course I also use the Internet or print media to get ideas. The modern medias are truly a treasure nowadays from which one should really draw.
5. Your portfolio has landscape images shot across the globe spanning from US to Europe to Asia – what according to you are the key challenges you faced whilst shooting across varying geographical locations?
Facing different climatic environments is a challenge. The curiosity to learn about our planet and to feel the environmental influences with my own body. I´m faced with extreme temperatures, as well as extreme weather. That´s what draws me into landscape photography. I also often have to pass extreme efforts to reach a location. Extreme efforts, which are not seen in the finished photo.
[highlight2] Piercing-the-Forest [/highlight2]
6. What is the future of Landscape Photography – where do we see it heading to?
I´m not a fortune-teller. But I predict landscape photography is again coming to a point that says: “Quality pays off”. In recent years much has degenerated in average “snapping”. We as professionals with the highest standards of quality will swim on top. I also see the market of the photo-workshop continuing in the upward trend. Especially the 1:1 Workshop is getting more and more popular. Contemporary landscape photography will also orient more towards industry and commercial. Exciting times!
7. How’s the technological advancements in cameras and lenses and accessories helping you with your imaging – what according to you is one key thing which you never want to miss going out without?
Dolomites with Milky Way
I´ll be honest. For me, the step of tripling my megapixels, meaning from 12 to 36, was a key element in getting more into business. What often is just a fun factor, affects the entire way of working. Consequently the rising quality of the resulting photos: The joy of work. This does not mean that I always need the latest technology. On the contrary, I own a smartphone only since 2014, and love to work with familiar materials. For me, sealed cameras against external environmental influences such as sand and water are very important. This innovation was a huge step for me, but may like to be refined!
8. What it is like a day in a life of a “Professional Landscape Photographer” ?
There is no standard answer. It depends if I´m on field or in the office. In the office my images arise in the digital darkroom, as well as texts and interviews for various publishers (like now). Unfortunately, also the boring office stuff is always on the agenda.
And this is how a typical day on location looks like: I get up before sunrise and hike to the location with heavy equipment. After shooting I went or drive to the next location for scouting on site. Sometimes image processing on the laptop is on the program now. In the afternoon I walk back to the scouted location. After a successful sunset-shooting either a night-shoot is on plan or I plan for the next day. Finally I crawl into my sleeping bag until again the alarm clock rings at 5 o’ clock.
9. How important are colors, according to you in Landscape photography? Have you tried Landscape Photography in Black and White? If not then what is your thought about it?
For me colors are most important. I love the rich variety of colors and the possibility to transport moods and feelings with the different impact of colors. Of course I also tried to shoot in black and white but I could never fall in love with these images. Nevertheless I appreciate the art of b&w-photography as a unique and pure style.
10. Tell us something about your evolution as Landscape Photographer?
Evolution is the key-word. It is a slow process that needs a lot of patience and tenacity. It is important that you identify yourself with it, and always keep your original motivation and your dreams in mind. The decision to be a landscape photographer was very spontaneous. Since the days back in 2009 I work and file my dream incessantly to a certain perfection.
11. What is your advice to the beginners in Landscape Photography?
For Beginners I recommend to take a manually adjustable camera as often as possible and foremost taking pictures. In the best case get up early every weekend morning and enjoy the special morning moods. In the evening you often have the opportunity of nice light – use it. Practice is everything. Also of importance is the discussion of images of your favorite pros. How is the composition, the light, the color, etc. Get inspired!
12. What are your experiences and thoughts on ‘surviving’ a life as a professional nature/landscape photographer?
I do not want to talk long bush. It is hard earned bread. Especially the first years you have to stay afloat somehow. 2014 I am in the fourth year and have achieved a lot, but I´am still far from being where I´m heading to. It is actually hard work, always having excellent pictures in stock, to sell it and at the same time to generate new jobs. It is not a profession it’s more a passion. Anyone who follows his dream with a certain tenacity, it will be worth it sooner or later. That´s my opinion. That´s what keeps my dream alive.
Photography for me is not just a means to an end – it is like a “second” mother tongue. It is a language in which I can visually write and express my view of subjects because as the saying goes, a picture tells more than a thousand words. I try to put all my heart and soul into the process to get a perfect result. Today I live with my wife and son in a small town and enjoy the exchange between the security of my family and the harsh solitude, which lures me into the wilderness.. My Landscape Photography is predisposed by my panoramic wide-angle style with the aim to lead the observer into as much depth as possible into the subject.
You can see most of Stefan’s creations on his website – http://www.stefan-hefele.de/