Photographer Michael Schauer captures breathtaking views of isolated locations that will definitely appeal to your wanderlust.
His photos capture the world mostly untouched by humans at such a wide view that they almost become abstract works of art. We caught up with him in Munich Germany to find out how and where he takes these amazing photos.
Most of your photos are grand, moody, desolate locations. Where are these taken, and what draws you to these kinds of landscapes?
Most of these images are taken in the northern regions of Europe and Scandinavia. I really, really like the feeling of solitude and calmness and in these landscapes I believe, I can experience this the best. Also my preference for volcanic landscapes.
You choose to focus on wide sweeping landscapes vs close-ups of figures in your work, why is this?
This is because of my shooting setup. When I shoot from above my drone has a pretty wide lens so I am able to capture wide vistas. When I shoot from the ground I almost always use a telezoom lens to superduper compress the scene and accentuate details. You have to find the right balance of these motives to create an interesting body of work.
Ok let’s get a little nerdy, tell me about the gear you use and what your photo editing process is like.
I try to stay as light as possible basically. So my bag is filled with a Nikon D850, 24-70mm f2.8 and 80-400mm lenses and a 50mm for the occasional blurry background portrait as well as a DJI Mavic Pro drone. My editing is done 95% in Lightroom where I try to keep my editing between fairly natural and cinematic (which, is more the composition of the image than the look, to be honest) and only amplify what’s already in the image.
What artists or photographers inspire your work?
Some photographers like Reuben Wu or Ray Collins are surely inspirational in the way that they blow my mind time and time again but in the end our work does not have so much in common. It is more their level of, let’s say, craftsmanship that I find inspiring. Influential in my personal work are more books and bands since literature and music always had and has a great part in my life. I try to recreate the surreal, sometimes dreamlike, sometimes eerie but always serene feeling that I have when I read or listen to authors and artists like Haruki Murakami, Tolkien, Sigur Rós, Tim Hecker, or Have a Nice Life.
How were you able to make photography your full-time job? Any advice to aspiring photographers?
Maybe it was ambition or the lack of alternatives but I really, really wanted it and somehow it happened. It was more of a calculation and a weighing of risks against each other: I make x money from the amount of time I put into this right now. What would happen if I would put all my time into it? Then I jumped. In retrospect, I would advise anyone to make themselves easy to contact, to be present, to be easy to work with and professional.
How do you balance commercial and personal work?
I usually do not. What I shoot on my travels is what I sell on Society6 so my personal work becomes my commercial work. I like to think that companies ask me to work with them because they like the tone of my personal work so this is likely to have an influence on my commercial work as well. With the exception that the client has the last word regarding the final look but they usually know what to expect.
What projects do you hope to work on in the future? Any other countries on your bucket list to shoot?
I am currently planning a bigger project involving the people of Scandinavia. Within this project I will travel to Greenland and Svalbard, both countries I wanted to visit for years now and I am very excited to finally be able to make that happen!