Interview: Stefan Bäurle

Vier Bäume

Stefan Bäurle

Landscape Photography

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

My name is Stefan Bäurle. I live and work in the beautiful San Francisco Bay Area. I am mostly interested in outdoor photography such as seascapes and pictures of trees (which I call treescapes). Every now and then I like making abstract images of architectural details as well. I convert nearly all of my pictures into monochrome, because it facilitates focusing on the light, shapes, surfaces, structures, patterns, and contrasts of an intriguing subject.

Where did you grow up? Has your childhood affected your photography at all?

I grew up in a meteor crater called ‘The Ries’, a rural area in Southern Germany. I do not think that it effected my photography a lot. The sea is hundreds of miles away. But it may have instilled the love for nature and being outdoors because it is a very beautiful and unique region. I still visit regularly and often have my camera with me.

The Tree

How did you get into landscape photography?

I enjoy the outdoors and I hike a lot. So, I guess it was only natural to bring along my camera and start making pictures.

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

I guess the most important part for me is to make sure a particular picture reflects the mood I was experiencing when I made it. It may be challenging or exhausting to get to a particular spot and I may have felt happy, thoughtful, or just grateful. So I want to make sure that an image expresses this emotion in some way. For this, I usually work on a given image in several stages during post processing with some time in between each session where I let it “simmer” until I am happy with the result.

The Hurt Tree

What does photography mean to you?

Making images is my favorite spare time activity along with hiking. It allows me to be creative, use my imagination, and to show the world around me how I see and experience it.

What’s your favorite camera/lens setup? Why?

My current setup is the mirrorless Olympus OM-D E-M5 with a Panasonic Lumix 12-35mm/f2.8 lens. This lens is very sharp, bright, and versatile. The camera is quite small and lightweight which is nice when I am on a long hike. A sturdy tripod and a few filters (ND, grad ND, and a polarizer) are usually also with me when I am making pictures.

Pacific Sadness

What is more important: social media presence or in-person interactions?

I do not know what is more important. But I prefer personal interactions in real life. Most of the time I am out by myself when I make images. However, I also enjoy meeting with fellow photographers and explore something new. Or to catch up.

How do you go about getting noticed?

I make pictures mainly for myself. But I post them on my portfolio web page and I infrequently publish weblogs about a particular set of pictures. Sometimes I submit images for possible publication in magazines or books (such as LensWork). Occasionally I am also contacted by other photography magazines or book authors asking for a particular image for publication. And finally, I post select images on photography centered sites such as flickr, art limited, Google+, and Instagram.

Pacific Ideas

Should artists sell prints? This is a personal decision every artist has to make for him or herself. I do not directly offer prints of my pictures for sale. But I do make some for my own use or for friends and family if they ask for one.

Is there any other form of art that interests you?

Yes, I like music. Though I am not talented at all making it myself. But I enjoy listening to it quite a bit.

Pacific Shrine

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

My favorite image is a long exposure image from Portuguese Beach, Sonoma County, California. In my mind it perfectly expresses the mood of gratitude I was in when I made it. And I love that the little bird on the right cooperated and stayed put for ninety seconds. I named this picture ‘Pacific Shrine’.

What draws you to a scene which leads to a photograph?

This is difficult to pin down but I like simplicity. Usually I am out and about, turn around a corner and then it is just there waiting for me. It is also not uncommon, that I return to a particularly intriguing scene several times to explore it even more.

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

Interesting question. Perhaps “do more of the things you really enjoy”?

Tree in Winter Fog

If you had to choose one location to photograph forever, what would that be?

That has to be the Pacific Coast in Northern California. It is my favorite location by far. Every time I visit, I am presented with a different mood. It never repeats. And when I leave having made a few pictures, I know that this exact same feeling or scene will never occur again.

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

I have never thought about this. But I am sure it would not be of a tree or the Pacific or a building. Instead it would be of a subject most precious to me, my family.

Pacifc Othorax

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