Stefan Hefele - Germany
1. Stefan, you decided to get a classical education in commercial photography. How did you realize that the camera may become an important part of your life?
Back in 2005 I toured through Australia with a Work&Travel visa. I always carried a little digicam with me to capture the unique light and landscape of Australia to show it to my family. I was a young men and but already felt a deep connection to photography. It gave me an opportunity. Like kind of an expression or statement without getting lost in words. After my return to Germany, I did not want to lose this connection and sought a lasting activity with photography, with which one could still earn money. Making a living out of landscape photography was then a dream, but one that I was only able to realize later.
2. At the moment you practice landscape photography as well as architectural and commercial photography. Please describe the main differences of the various genres in your personal eyes.
I´m not quite sure when I did my last shooting in commercial photography. My last assignment for an architect was about two years ago. That doesn’t mean, I´m to lazy to do those jobs, it means I fully concentrate on landscape photography. The passion I dreamed of since I had the first camera in my hands. Nevertheless I worked on a project in 2017/2018 that shows abandoned places in the incredible landscape of the Alps. It´s kind of a mixture of landscape and architecture photography which guarantees high tension.
3. On your website there`s the following quote: “For me photography isn`t just a functional instrument but like a second mother tongue. A language that gives me the chance to express in a visual and creative way.” Visuality and creativity is obviously important for yourself. What does it mean for you?
When I´m creative I create something. I practice photography to create pictorial worlds to stimulate the viewer´s imagination. Visuality means everything before and after creating the photograph itself. I would describe the planning phase and the time until the creation of a photo as the phase in which I implement a vision. Visuality and creativity is connected and playing together. It's like the language you want to express yourself with. How to achieve this and in which way I can decide for myself.
4. Do you think that creativity is important for human beings in general?
I think creativity is the main reason that sets us apart from the rest of all living beings. Everyone has his or her own unique way to use creativity. This sometimes can be beautiful and sometimes barbaric. That makes us humans.
5. You live in Bavaria, close to the impressive Alps. Did the area where you live influence your passion for nature and mountains?
The Alps and my homeland was a huge inspiration for my career as an artist. One of my first projects called „My Home“ is found in my portfolio and showcases the natural landscape close to where I life. About five years ago, I started working intensively with and in the Alps. In autumn 2018, my second coffetable book will be published, dealing with the Alps. It is titled "Geisterhäuser" / "Ghost Houses" and shows abandoned places in the incredible landscape of the Alps. My first work was "Alpenwelten" / "Alpine Worlds". An extremely large-format coffetablebook, which focuses purely on the scenic beauty and diversity of the Alps.
6. Your stunning landscape portfolio is full of breathtaking captures from all over the world. It seems as if there`s a special connection to the Northern regions. Is that true? Do you have a favorite area?
My connection to northern regions is absolutely true and certainly also because of the fact that even as a child I have devoured stories from these regions. A lot of this regions I also discovered in winter, when it´s ice cold. For example Alaska, Iceland, Norway and Scotland. The relationship to the cold has shaped me and I love the work in wind and weather. Most of the time I live outside or in the car without having a real roof over my head. I like to feel nature with all my senses to create good photos.
7. Recently you also traveled the Seychelles. Even if this is an island full of beauty it`s not a top spot for landscape photographers. How do you think about it? Do you prefer to explore new countries or do you like to be familiar with a place?
I don´t choose my locations in order to check off a "must be" checklist. I more try to get a geographic and scenic diversity in my portfolio. Often very spontaneous and also from the gut. This is a reason why I have an extremely critical relationship to the modern hunt for "must be" places. But that does not mean that I avoid all known locations. If I like a motif well, then I would like to have it in my portfolio. In short: I like to photograph what I like and not what is mainstream right now.
8. Where do you find inspiration? Which artists have been a source of inspiration for you? Are there more forms of art that inspire your photographic path?
My biggest inspiration comes from Mother Nature. I often realise this when I try to implement a certain photo and something unplanned, sometimes much better comes out of it. When I started my career the Australian Photographer Ken Duncan was a huge inspiration to me. His style of photography was a great role model for me back then. Nowadays I love to surf in the internet or get lost in a coffeetable book or magazine to find inspiration or new places that suit me. Regarding the last question I think the film maker Tim Burton and his unique style was a huge inspiration on the way to find my own style.
9. How does a perfect day look like for you?
A perfect day in terms of photography starts with a hot coffee and an epic photo in the morning. After a little road trip and some hiking through stunning wilderness I enjoy a sunset behind my tripod than getting back to my beloved ones in the camper van. One or two chilly beers with a delicious meal later and a romantic starry sky above my wife and me is the last thing before we jump into our sleeping bags.
I probably won´t be able to not take a wonderful night shot of this starry sky. But what would be a perfect day without a perfect wife who wouldn´t understand that.
10. Final Question: This project is called "Vision and life". What do the terms "vision" and "life" mean for you, Stefan?
Life is reality, vision is dreaming. My job is to combine both - to make a perfect blending of reality and dreaming.
I often get asked if this is my dreamjob?
Yes, I try to make a living from my very own vision. When this works, it´s able to combine dreaming and living without compromising on the family and the children.
Then the difficulty lies only in keeping the carousel running smooth.