One branch of nature photography is animal photography. It presents itself in different ways: Animals are photographed in their natural environment as well as in zoos. In addition, pets are staged in the photo studio to capture very special moments of the animals. We spoke with Swiss animal photographers for you and asked them questions about their passion. We present two female photographers and one male photographer and their answers here.
Markus Stähli – Wildlife Photography
The renowned photographer Markus Stähli, whose photos appear regularly in magazines, books and brochures, has enjoyed numerous successes. He has been publishing an annual wildlife calendar for 10 years and his book “Rothirsch – Auf der Fährte des Geweihten” (“Red deer – On the trail of the antlers”) was awarded the literature prize in 2010.
„Wildlife photography is probably one of the most difficult domains of photography. This requires comprehensive knowledge of the animals to be photographed, physical fitness, the patience of an angel, persistence, empathy and absolute mastery of photographic technology. All these elements together make animal photography so exciting and challenging for me. In addition, there is no better teacher than nature itself!“
What fascinates you about wildlife photography?
„When I photograph animals, I feel the pulse of nature. I take part in wonderful and impressive moments. The free wilderness – the world of the animals – is like a parallel world to our often unnatural world of prosperity. Outside in nature there is a daily struggle for survival. It is about eating and being eaten. Only the strongest and most intelligent of all species survive. To experience these processes – from birth to death – in nature and to capture them with the camera without the wild animals perceiving me is incredibly fascinating to me.“
When did you discover your passion for animal photography?
„I have been doing animal photography for more than 30 years now. As a teenager I got an old Voigtländer from my father – without automatic, without zoom, only equipped with a lens. From this moment on, I tried to capture wild animals on film (later on chip) and to open my eyes to the diversity and beauty of the native animal world with my photos.“
Photo Passion – animal photography for wild moments
Denise Czichocki and Jörn Schlappinger are behind Photo Passion: “We have been passionate photographers for several years now. But we really only got into animal photography through our own pets. It started with our greyhound mongrel Safran, whom we got from animal welfare. During our holiday in Sardinia we noticed how much he loves sand and dunes and how he “freaked out” and ran up and down the dunes. Of course we wanted to capture this joy and sprintery to show it to our family and friends. That’s where our passion for animal photography began.”
“At the end of 2015, Denise decided to quit her job in order to devote herself more to photography. So we both took an online photo course to learn more about photography and successfully completed it. Since March 2016 we have specialised in animal photography, which we offer outdoors in natural light. Since March we have got to know many animal models and their owners. Our great passion for animal photography has become even stronger, we have been able to evolve further and can say with all our heart and soul that we simply love to photograph animals and their humans as well”.
“What makes animal photography so fascinating for us? The love for animals: We ourselves have two cats and two dogs, our own little zoo, as we affectionately call it. A photo shoot with animals is always something new, each animal behaves differently, has their own character, which you have to go into and which we try to reflect in the photos.
A photo shoot with animals is not 100% predictable, because the furry companion does not necessarily do what we and the owners hope for. And that’s exactly what we like and demand. We always have to be flexible and spontaneous in our photo shootings with animals. There is no routine according to the motto “this is how we do it”. The animal is in the centre of attention and we have to embrace it. Therefore it is always exciting to see what happens next. Even the owners are sometimes surprised about their pets and then there is a lot to laugh and talk about.”
Nicole Hollenstein – Animal photography with passion
“What fascinates me about animal photography is that it is a profession that takes place at the emotional level. Only those who have a lot of patience and empathy, sensitivity and a heart for animals can take pictures that reflect the soul of the animals”.
“What started out as a hobby became my profession 5 years ago and the fulfilment of my life’s dream. My work is far more than a profession, it is a passion.”
“Animals have accompanied me all my life, from hamster to bunny to cat to horse and now my Beagle Joyce, I was allowed to call many animals my own in my life and therefore have a close relationship to the different animal species. What fascinates me is that unlike human models, the right moment has to be in the feeling, out of a non-verbal communication”.
The website of Nicole Hollenstein can be found here.