Kristian is a well-known photographer, producer, and director traveling the world creating magical photographs that radiate life, art and a lot of emotion. His love for fashion and wildlife make a harmonious blend between the two worlds.
Great to have an interview with you about your fabulous work that also raises awareness worldwide.
Q: What was your breaking point in your professional career? That you could take it from passion to profession?
I still feel like a beginner in photography, each shoot I learn something new. Then I look at my book and go “damn I have been doing this for a long time”.
I guess the Whale shark shoot got people noticing since it hadn’t been done before.
Q: Which photographer/s influenced you? Did they influence also your career path or way of thinking?
I try not to look at other photographers work so much because I think I’ll start to mimic their style unconsciously, so just do my thing and try to stay out of the box.
Japan has been my main inspiration, it has given me all my aesthetics and taught me angles and mood.
Q: Having amazing photos requires to have not only talent, knowledge, and passion but also a great technology/software/camera gear. Would you share with us what you use to keep being the best at what you do?
I have always shot a Canon 1DX, it works perfectly for what I do. Then I make the colors on Lightroom and the retouching on Photoshop.
Q: Where did the passion for wildlife come from?
Wildlife keeps me balanced, the common sense, awareness of nature and respect animals have always taught me something and brings me back to how things should be.
Q: Are the concepts all yours or do you have a team sometimes helping you come up with the ideas for composition?
All the ideas are mine but to execute them it takes some very talented people so no one gets hurt. I usually have a set shot in my head I want to catch and I never get it, it”s always something else that happens but it turns out as good.
So nowadays I just have a direction I want to go and I just let it happen, we let animals do their thing and just work around it.
Q: Your Shark Whale Series was absolutely elegant and stunning. How did you first hear about the possibility and location of this incredible species? How did you manage to be in the right place at the right time?
I was diving with Whalesharks in Mexico with Wildaid which is the Charity me and Richard Branson work with. I thought it was one of the most surreal experiences, their size and grace were amazing.
Images in my head came right away about how to catch their synergy with a human being. We were recommended a place in the Philippines where the whale sharks were quite common and the water would be much calmer to shoot in.
I put together a brilliant team that made the shoot seamless and was an adventure to remember.
Q: When you are doing a story like that, how are you going from image to image in your head as you are thinking about the shoot? What is the sense of the awareness what the next photo should be like?
As I said before it is actually chaos in my head, we never get what we want. There is no structure, you just have to go with the flow and try to make it work the best way possible. Usually, I’m very surprised at the outcome, it’ completely different than what I thought it would be and works in different ways that are usually better than what I had in mind.
Q: Are you doing that thought process ahead or are you connecting the dots as you are going along deciding what the next part of the story might be, depending on the scenery, animal/human actors?
I so wish there was more structure to my work, I’ve given up completely on trying to plan. We just work with very professional people so it’s safe and then we wing it.
Q: How do you actually get the animal or even person in front of the camera in just the way you want? It must be incredibly hard to anticipate the behavior of them together. Is it tricky?
It has everything to do with the model, their fearlessness and capacity to sense the animal while moving naturally makes the whole shoot. Very difficult, I have the easy job there.
Q: How does it feel to be face to face with the wild creatures? Please share any interesting story if there is any. What challenges do you or the models have to overcome?
It is incredibly impressive and at the same time very soothing and calm. A very addictive feeling. We have things happening on every shoot and have been very lucky how well it’s all gone.
The models have to tap into so many parts of themselves and be completely fearless otherwise it doesn’t work.
But I have never seen anyone not smile or eyes full of wonder when they are face to face with an elephant, lion etc…
Q: The type of photography you do makes you travel the world to the most beautiful and secret places on Earth. Which is your most favorite place you consider heavenly? Are you always searching for the next great shot?
I keep on returning to Cape Town, Japan, and the Caribbean, those are my spots, the places I feel most at home and still amaze me on how amazingly beautiful they are. But every country we go to has something unique. Galápagos, Himalayas, Africa, etc… all have mind-blowing scenery and culture.
Travel, see it all, there is no better school than to understand other cultures and nature.
Q: Is there any place you would still like to go to explore?
I have done a lot now, space?
Q: Who is your entourage you always take on your shooting trips all over the world?
I’ve been lucky enough to work with the same crew for the past decade. They are all brilliant and make me laugh all day. It’s so important to have uplifting people on shoots, makes everyone happy and the pictures come out so much better.
They are all my closest friends so it never really feels like work.
Q: Your passion for wildlife has now become an important work for raising awareness for endangered species. Do you find it crucial and important working with non-profit organizations?
Wildaid is the wildlife charity that I work with, they are the most efficient people I have ever met. It’s changed my life and my career, the more of my time I give the more I get back. It has opened every door for me and I’ve been able to do good and make a change at the same time. If everyone could experience this the world would be completely different. The more you give and take care of the planet the more it will change your life significantly for the better.
Q: To support the wildlife protection you organized a campaign for the fight to protect rhinos. You worked with Prince William, David Beckham, and Yao Ming. What was the cooperation like?
It was amazing, all smiles and incredible minds coming together. I was so impressed by how caring and companionate they are, they really are making a remarkable change.
Q: What is the next big WILD project you are currently working on? When can we anticipate the launch?
I am doing the largest exhibition of my career shortly which will be a mix between prints and interactive projections, the animals will be moving from piece to piece and you will feel very similar to being in the wild.
I am currently hosting a travel show that has been in the works forever so that will be exciting.
Then many shoots in production that need to be even more impressive than my last ones so it’s starting to get tricky but that’s the fun part.
Q: Is there anything you would like to say to inspire or give of advice to young photographers?
Be as social as you can, that’s the real work. But it will open all the doors you need to succeed.
Don’t be afraid to ask, keep on reminding everyone what you want and need to achieve your goals you will be surprised at how many people are willing to help.
Also, stay out of the box, keep on doing your thing and take risks, it will be easier to be noticed that way.
Thank you, Kristian, for sharing your love for art and photography with our readers. To stay in touch, and to follow his magnificent work and projects go to his website www.kristianschmidt.com