Interview: Daniel Ernst

Daniel Ernst - - Outdoor Photography

Daniel Ernst

Outdoor Photographer

Tell us a little about yourself (who you are, where you are based, what you shoot, etc.)

I’m Daniel, a 28 year-old self-taught photographer based in Frankfurt, Germany. I got into photography almost 9 years ago (around 2009) and made the step into self-employment 3 years ago (around 2015).

My photography reflects my passions and is inspired by nature. I’m focusing on the outdoors, adventure and lifestyle.

How and why did you get into landscape photography?

I actually started shooting portraits and people. At one point I wanted to shoot in more exciting areas and started bringing them on hikes – that is the point where I slowly got into landscape photography as well.

With time, my interest in hiking and climbing grew more and more, and I started visiting more remote places only by myself – that made the transfer into landscape photography done. But still I mostly try to put people in my shots: pure landscape shots are not my favorite.

Daniel Ernst - Outdoor Photographer-

Daniel Ernst - Outdoor Photographer-

What is an average day like for you?

I usually get up early: I feel like I am more productive in the hours before noon so I try to get all work done until then.

Basically I have two lives: one is where I’m at home, which basically feels like a day in the office. I’m doing my emails, creating slideshows for job proposals, and brainstorming about campaigns and new trips, plus how to get this on a client.

The other life is the one living on the road during a trip for example. This life follows no schedules, no certain rules or scheme. But I usually sleep in the trunk of my car and get up long before sunrise to drive or hike to a location for a sunrise shoot. On days like these, I sometimes find myself working for 18 hours straight, especially when being in a great location with good conditions.

Somehow it still feels more like pursuing my passion instead of actually ‘working.’

Daniel Ernst - Outdoor Photographer-

Daniel Ernst - Outdoor Photographer-

In your opinion, will photography become overly populated to the point where professionals can no longer get jobs/make a living?

I see it as a challenge to stand out more. Of course it can and it does affect my job, but that is the best time to think about yourself and your photography and try to make it more special than the others.

Where do you find inspiration to keep going, even when things get tough?

I usually go on a longer journey, a longer trip to a country with no plan, no appointments and no schedule to just let my soul float and do longer hikes. Such trips refresh your thinking, especially when you’re alone.

Daniel Ernst - Outdoor Photographer-

Daniel Ernst - Outdoor Photographer-

What is your current favorite photograph? What do you like about it most?

I don’t know why I like it so much, but it’s something pleasing for the eye when looking at it. The easy content, subtle colors that spread some sort of calmness while the waves in the back bring disturbance in this.

How do you stay unique in a world where (almost) everyone has a camera in their back pocket?

I just try to do my thing, making sure to always include emotions in my shots.

I’m not trying to hop on every trend that comes up.

Do you have any advice for photographers in terms of getting companies to notice you?

Difficult question – in my opinion it works best to go to fairs to get contacts. As so often in life, the people you know might make a huge difference

Daniel Ernst - Outdoor Photographer-

Daniel Ernst - Outdoor Photographer-

At what point do you feel a photographer is experienced enough to run workshops or teach other photographers?

At the point where others cannot copy him or her that easily. I don’t think that there is a certain point; it’s more like a feeling depending on the feedback you get.

What makes you choose color or black and white for your photos when editing?

I only shoot & edit in color.

Tell us about your photography techniques and the post processing of your photos.

The actual technique of my photos is fairly easy and simple.

I usually don’t use filters or a tripod; I shoot handheld and often wide-open apertures to get a dreamy look. In the editing suite I try to be subtle and maintain a golden thread throughout my photos in the hope that people recognize my photos by only looking at them.

Daniel Ernst - Outdoor Photographer-

Daniel Ernst - Outdoor Photographer-

What advice would you give to yourself if you could turn back time?

I’m actually at the point where I don’t have any advice for the younger me – I wouldn’t do much different except from a few small things.

What does photography mean to you?

Not only does it mean an income for me, but it also – more importantly – is a way to express my feelings and document my life.

When I started photography, my main goal was to show my future kids what my life was like and to inspire them to do the same and not get lost in some daily routine.

This is still one my main aspects for doing it, but I want to inspire a larger group of people, along with my future kids.

Daniel Ernst - Outdoor Photographer-

Daniel Ernst - Outdoor Photographer-

What message do you wish to send with your imagery? How do you make sure your images convey this properly?

With my photography, I want to inspire people to go outside.

I hope my photos are causing a desire, a motivation to leave the rush behind, to escape routine, explore and experience nature.

There is no real way I can make sure that my photos convey this properly, but I try to make them transfer an emotion, a certain feeling that I have in my stomach while looking at it. Sounds a bit strange but usually if I have this feeling, other people will experience it as well.

If you could only take one more picture, what do you think it would be of? How would you begin to make that decision?

Easy decision – it would be a portrait of the person that means most to me.

Daniel Ernst - Outdoor Photographer-

Daniel Ernst - Outdoor Photographer-

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