A landscape photographer in a classical sense, I use large-format camera systems (4×5?) almost exclusively, but don?t feel old-fashioned in doing so. I see myself more as an artist, like a painter, with the creative freedom that comes with this concept, and I am pretty sure I use the digital darkroom as much as pure digital photographers do.
I had to finish my ?first life? as professional athlete (basketball), save some money and travel and have lots of adventure before deciding photography would be the thing to do. Since all that stuff has been my hobbies anyways, I can honestly state, that I never really had to work on a ?real? job in my whole life!
I try to let images speak for themselves, rather than having to explain something. Not being the true marketing genius, I tend to flee all assignments that smell of work instead of fun, and feel I do my best work when having lots of time at hand and no pressuring schedules and am free to photograph whatever comes in front of my lens? Now, having said that, I think my best artistic achievement is, to be able to sustain a life with that kind of attitude?! Well, yes, and my wife (Wild Wonders of Europe photographer Verena Popp-Hackner) shares everything with me in respect of having a family and running this freelance job. Without her, sure enough, I would have starved in beauty a long time ago.
Why nature photography?
Best way to unite all my major interests ? travelling, adventure, nature, art.
What’s best about it?
What I enjoy most is the freedom. My life (at the moment) is dictated by my family and me only. Nobody can decide for me, wherever I shall go, what I have to do, when and where.
What’s worst about it?
The worst thing is, you can?t really get rich quickly. You always have to have a looong financial plan. So one always has to live with the fear of ending up as a poor slug in the ghetto one day. I wouldn?t change a thing in my life, if I?d be a millionaire, but I would have one fear less?
Also pretty bad is having to get up so darn early, especially in the summer!
Favourite species and places in Europe?
So many. I also love my backyard, to sleep in the shade and to watch the butterflies dance around.
What’s in the bag?
Toyo camera, LF lenses and all that stuff one needs in large-format photography. (unfortunately a lot!) The lightest backpack I manage to pack takes 15kg.
Your specialities / skills?
To go to places I have never seen before and come up with interesting images. Hmmm ? that doesn?t sound all that great, I know. I?m also pretty good, I think, in developing photo projects of any kind.
What will you do in your next life?
Not work so hard!
3 tips for beginners
1) Just do it! (that was a Nike ad slogan when I was young, but I always felt it?s a good one!)
2) Do it as good as you can. (so there are no excuses afterwards)
3) Make sure nobody does it better!
Georgia ? I have never been there previous to my mission, and never heard much about it (it was before the war with Russia). Just perfect. I must say it is one of the most diverse and spectacular countries of Europe, with 5000m peaks (huge glaciers and all), large old growth forests, desert regions with landscapes like the American southwest and much, much more. In fact it would take a couple of missions to really capture all that beauty, I felt overwhelmed most of the time. I already know I?ll return. There is so much eco-tourism potential there, it?s unbelievable. Let?s see what Georgia will do with it.
What’s cool about it?
Because it is photographed in the most traditional sense. I tried to step back as photographer, not to be fancy with a composition or any effects or anything at all. It?s just the place, as beautiful as it is, and the right light, and the way a large-format camera is able to catch it, that made it all work so well.
Could it be better?
For what the image was meant to be ? No. There could be some things different (like a deer somewhere in the frame?) but then it would be a completely different image.
Behind the Scene
It was made when going on a stroll with my little daughters, looking for mushrooms and blueberries. My kids always climbed some of the boulders that can be found in that forest and jumped down from them, into the soft moss. So I climbed one too and found, it would be perfect to make a photograph from a little higher up.
Location: Stora Sj?fallet National Park, Sweden
Gear: Toyo Field 45 AII, 120mm, Velvia 50