Mirko Vecernik - Germany
Thoughts about me: What drives me forward?
All my life I felt something deep inside myself that should finally lead to a special connection to nature and wilderness. Digital photography was the vehicle I needed.
I observed the developments of this era perfectly well. Young professionals like US-based Marc Adamus crossed my way and were my inspiration. The process still grows and evolves, and I`m sure it`ll never end.
The artistical part of my work becomes more and more important. A few years ago I was satisfied by traveling places already photographed a lot of times. That doesn`t work any more. Nowadays I`m searching for untouched places, something new, something that`s not easy to get at. And that`s exactly where the circle closes.
Being outside in the wild, without any chance to live the usual life, is kind of a catharsis. Traveling wild places and getting in touch with wild animals gives me kind of a calmness I can`t find anywhere else. I`m inspired by people who aspire to a special target, without any concession even if I know that this is not my way. Rather I love the life that I live: I love my family and like to spend as much time with my wife and my two daughters as possible. I love my job and the people I meet in this way. And I love the preparations and rework around my travels into the wild. All this triggers a deep happiness inside me.
Sharing those ideas with the people outside is a great honor. Every time when someone tells me that he feels concerned by watching one of my pictures I know that it is worth all the effort.
Thoughts about artistical development: Why do I shoot landscapes?
I held my first SLR camera in my hands when I was a child, about 40 years ago. But I just took pictures by fortune. In my mid-thirties I rediscovered photography on my search for more creativity. But a lot of things changed. The digital technology caused an upheaval. For me it was a chance to develop a completely new understanding of the whole process.
When I was a child I never had the chance to work in a darkroom. Nowadays I have the freedom to carry out the whole thing and create something that feels complete.
I felt inspired by several photographers who used those new technologies, too. I loved landscapes as much as portraits. So I experimented a lot, only to finally realize that landscape photography filled a gap. I was attracted by everything wild. I read several novels and biographies about mountaineering or dropouts. The most inspiring work of my life was "Into the wild" by Jon Krakauer, the story about Christopher McCandless who died in the wilderness of Alaska at the age of just 24 years. Even if it was a huge contrast to my usual life the kind of living in the nature fascinated me.
I discovered the camera as a medium that gave me the chance to enter new grounds. I began to make several solo trips to Scotland and learned a lot about my own personality. Nevertheless I experimented a lot, took portraits and accompanied weddings also. I love the work of Jose Villa and Elizabeth Messina. Shooting a wedding is amazing. You get to know nice people and you are an intimate attendant during that big day, being able to share all those feelings. But this work isn`t just exciting, it`s also pretty stressful. And that`s the most conspicuous difference between shooting people and nature.
Furthermore landscape photography gave me the chance to confront myself with my fears. Years ago I felt uncomfortable being outside, alone, at night. Something I highly enjoy today. Also I never loved heights. But on my trips to all those beautiful places I have to overcome this regularly.
A short example of my 2016 solo trip to the Pacific Northwest: I planned to go to Sparks Lake, Three Sisters Wilderness. A few miles before I reached it the road was closed due to snowfall even if it was May. I drove into the woods for sleeping. But at 3 a.m. I woke up and immediately knew that I had to give it a try. So I grabbed my photo bag, took my headlamp and wandered about 5 miles through a deep dark night, just to make sure that I would be at Sparks Lake at sunrise. Maybe this is nothing special for someone who`s experienced by living outside, but it`s miles away from my normal life. It definitely helps to become a stronger personality because you learn something about yourself. The camera gave me the freedom to travel places I never would`ve seen without. And I`m thankful for all those people I met through the years. This international network is inspiring and drives me forward a lot.
Thoughts about life: Why is creativity essential?
In my eyes creativity is essential for human beings. Everybody pursues happiness, but it`s not the easiest challenge. Life offers many obstacles, again and again.
One of the most effective ways to free your mind is creativity. It`s objective, doesn`t demand anything and there are no rules restricting your attitude. But to be able to begin a creative process you first have to work on your own vision. I think Oprah Winfrey is more than right when she says that you become what you believe.
Think about several examples in history of sports, business or arts: Would Wilma Rudolph have won a golden Olympic medal in spite of polio disease without the vision to completely recover and free from her restrictions by simply running? What caused Steve Jobs pooling his whole energy for a weakened group? Without a vision he would`t have been able to become the personality of computer industry and to form the most successful company of our times. And what about van Gogh? Would he`ve been driven forward to become a painter at the age of 27, creating some of the most popular paintings at all (not finding much recognition all his life through) without a clear vision?
It doesn`t matter if you`re an artist, an engineer, a teacher, a salesman or a mother. Every single human being needs some creativity. It doesn`t matter how it looks like, it`s solely an enrichment.
Thoughts about nature: Which contribution can a photographer make?
You can find a lot of essays and statements about climate change. I think it`s the responsibility of every single persons to make sure not to exploit our globe. Unfortunately even international politicians are not able to pulling in the same direction.
The chance of a landscape photographer is to show the beauty of nature and point to its transiency. One of the most inspiring photographers in relation to this is Guy Tal. His essays about the fragility of nature are breathtaking.
On the other hand the landscape photographer himself has to be careful. I`m not without sorrow when I travel to places at the end of the world, just to realize that it looks like a zoo sometimes. Tons of tripods, one next to the other, just to take this single shot that already exists many, many times. When I saw a situation like this and thought about myself being there I was confused sometimes.
But there`s a chance to go different ways. The search for the untouched place is kind of this chance. What saves nature on the one hand lets grow your artistical abilities on the other hand. But that`s not enough. When you tread new paths you also have to be careful where to walk. Watching a range sign is the easiest part, not trampling on fragile plants should be obviously, too. Guy Tal describes this in one of his essays and finally asks: "Can trees die of a broken heart?"
Thoughts about future: Which plans do I have in mind?
The special things about passion is the fact that it may change but it never dies. Through all the years making serious photography I never had any doubt that it`s worth all the effort. Rather it never felt like any effort.
The creative process is always present even if it looks different from time to time. So I`m full of ideas actually. Just now I`m thrilled of my "Vision and Life" project, hoping that I`ll be able fill it with life. It`s amazing to get in touch with all those creative minds around the globe, gathering all their thoughts about vision, creativity and inspiration. I`m excited to see where it will go from here.
Also there are tons of travel plans in my mind, maybe more than I`ll ever being able to get to in one single life. Next January I`ll travel the Canadian Rockies. Alaska, Namibia and Patagonia are on the top of my list. I hope to find as many untouched places as possible the next few years. But not the number is the decisive factor. Rather the quality of every single point of contact to nature is important for me.