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Verena Popp-Hackner

I feel an unquenchable thirst for being “outside”, preferably in a seakayak on the ocean.

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Featured Photographer

Verena Popp-Hackner

About

Large format landscape photographer in Vienna. Married, two daughters (five and seven yrs). After years of travelling the world in low budget style, with occasional working-breaks in between to finance these journeys, turned to fulltime outdoor photography in 1998. (Making it ten years now, I just realized! Feels like it was yesterday…) I would call it “outdoor”- instead of “nature” photography, because it involved lots of travel-, adventure and tourism photography in the beginning. But soon found out it was not the journey themselves I wanted to photograph but the few great places and moods we sometimes witnessed. Well paying commercial assignments were good to get a start in the photography business, now I prefer to work completely independent without deadlines, schedules and shooting lists. (instead of getting rich…) WWE is one of only a very few exceptions : )

Website: www.popphackner.com/

Interview

Why nature photography?
Not so much because of an interest in photography itself but an unquenchable thirst in being “outside”, preferably in a seakayak on the ocean! Always thought photography could be a really cool way to finance a lifestyle full of travelling and adventures without really having to work at all! (sigh...)

What's best about it?
It’s one of only a very, very few professions I can think of, where it’s possible to keep your (physical and spiritual) freedom. Camera, lens, laptop and (occasional) Internet connection is really all you need to make a living, no matter where you are – and it all fits in a bag.

What's worst about it?
I think if you really mean it honest, nature photography is very time intensive. I’m accompanied by a constant bad feeling of not having enough time for the kids, for friends or to follow up some other things I would like to do. You really have to learn to let go every now and then!

Favourite species and places in Europe?
I like all critters.
Favourite place? Yes, a place without human foot tracks, signs, regulations and so on. A place without noise and pollution, with nobody hurrying to get somewhere. These are the ingredients I need to function well. It’s getting harder to find them in Europe, but they are still there. If you have found one – don’t tell anybody! ;-)

What's in the bag?
Field camera, (up to) six lenses (75mm, 120mm, 150mm, 180mm, 210mm, 400mm), loaded filmholders (up to ten), light meter, lupe, focusing cloth, grey card, pol- and ND filters with adapter and rings, compass, headlamp, waterbottle, little food, extra cloth, raincoat, money, swiss army knife. The barest of essentials. Really, there is NO place for any goodies, talismans or something if you work with large format!

Your specialities / skills?
I set out to capture places in a captivating way. I see myself more as an artist than a documentor. I try to have people to stop and view my images for more than a fleeting moment and I want them to keep seeing my images in their mind even when they are not standing in front of them. Sometimes it even works...

What will you do in your next life?
I know I spoil the fun of the question here, but I’m really way too busy to pack all the things I still like to do into the present life. I’m too afraid it’s the only one I’ve got!

3 tips for beginners
1) Get into the wild and STAY there as much as you can.
2) Don’t ever forget to bring a camera!
3) Never stop learning. You only see what you know. (Goethe)

Mission

My trips will be this autumn, so I still have some time to get prepared.
The Matterhorn part will be difficult, because it is such an icon and therefore often photographed in very spectacular settings. Light and mood and weather will definitely play a key role. I don’t think I will look for postcard images. The worse the weather the better my chances to come up with something special...
Cirque de Troumousse and Les Phyrennees Ntl Park will be new for me and a similar challenge as the Matterhorn. I very much look forward to fall colors there.
Coast at Barrika: Perfect for me. I just LOVE to photograph coasts. I just hope I hit the tides right and there won’t be too many footprints everywhere.

Best Picture

Best Picture
“Floating Leaves” Triglav NP, Slovenia.

What's cool about it?
The image has unexpected features for a straightforward wide angle landscape photograph. It’s dynamic and abstract and it’s not a macro image, it still shows a large scene (a lake). It also is a bit moody with all the autumn and the fog bank along the shore being reflected. It makes people look and wonder what they are seeing and it contains enough information to make you find out.

Could it be better?
Hmmm, lemme think about it….NO!
Ok, honestly, if there would have been a nice rainbow trout swimming underneath the leafs, this would have been really cool! Maybe next time.

Behind the Scene
I intended to shoot colorful forest scenes in Triglav NP only to find out all the leafs had already fallen down early due to cold weather, wind and an extremely dry summer. But this meant there was unusual amount of (relatively fresh looking) leafs drifting in the lake, giving me an unplanned chance of taking unusual pictures. Just what I love best.

Date: Fall of 2004
Location: Triglav NP, Slovenia
Gear: Toyo Field 45 AII, 75mm, Velvia 50, polarizer, tripod.

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