I will regularly interview a photographer I know as I am sure it is interesting to hear from many different points of views, about photography, the way people do it, travel, approach people, and some tips for the ones who wish to learn.
Today I met with Alexandre Sattler. We had been in touch via Facebook for a while and I really enjoyed watching his pictures from around the world. When Alex got into Hoi an he contacted me for a coffee, and also came along one of my workshop. It has been a real pleasure and also an enriching experience meeting him. So I could not resist but interview him!
“- So please Alex, tell me a little more about your story
– I started working in France as a mountain guide in the Alps. I love nature and being in the outside so that was ideal for me. For a school project I had to build a herbarium. But instead of taking the plants and killing them I thought taking there photo would be a better way. I bought myself a small camera with a macro function and started taking photographs of flowers. At some point I had over 400 flowers in my repertory, including some pretty rare stuffs. But I lost everything when my computer crashed, learning the hard way that all photographer needs to back up their work!
After that I really felt the need to travel, it was something that I had in me. I did not have any money so I created a project in order to get subsidies, and it worked! I went to spend 6 months in Australia, creating a body of work about the aboriginal culture. I have always be interested in the human relationship with nature and earth, and so studying tribal people would be a great “ethnologist” way of doing that. Of course I took plenty of photos, and created a conference that took me 2 years around schools in France.
After that I spent some time in Japan where I bought my first DSLR camera (a Nikon) and I really started taking pictures more seriously. I then started an NGO called “Regard’ailleurs” which helps other NGOs to get photos for their own promotion. It was also a way for me to keep traveling. I also started Gaia images (as I did not like the idea to have my name on it), which shows the different radio shows I produce in France as well as my time lapses.
– What is photography for you Alex?
– A way of sharing. Of course it is important to know about the technical things and knowing about the light, so to get a beautiful image, and adding weight to it. But it is all about sharing emotions and values. I often add messages in the photo to reinforce this.
– Where do you got your influence from?
– First and foremost I inspire myself from the place I am. The culture in which I am at the time I take images will greatly influence the way I take photos. I also got a lot of inspiration from travel photographers, particularly Olivier Follmi and Eric Valli. They both come from the same “mountainous” background as I do and it shows on their photos. As you can see, they are purely Travel photographers, which is what I really love. They always place the Human subject in the center, working on intercultural differences.
– Are you a wide angle or a zoom lens photographer?
– Definitely zoom, easier and lighter to carry around!
– Could you please explain to me how do you approach people when you want to take their pictures?
– First I really try to show interest in them, to what they do, and observe their activities. Then I act silly, trying to do jokes, make people laugh and relax. I always carry a few magic tricks with me, and it does help a lot, mostly with kids. A tip for people who are shy to approach their subjects: start with the children. They are easy, patient, open and love magic tricks! The idea is to create a bit of wonder by my presence, to leave a memory behind. It is not about being the guy who came quickly and snapped a few shots, I want to leave my mark behind, give something back to the people. It is like a win win situation, I took some photos, and I gave people some fun, and a contact with the Western world. So it is important for me to be alone when I travel and take photos, makes it much easier to approach people.
– Alex, what tips would you give to anyone who wants to learn photography?
– Watch with your heart!
It is important in the world we live in today to try to feel things with our heart, get out of the mental sphere. In today’s world we are formatted by the mental, always thinking, planning judging, etc… There is no more room for intuition. It is important to re develop the spontaneity we had when we were kids, and I do believe in meditation and contemplation. Stop keeping your mind busy, and just stop, do not think. Learn to feel the things around you, not judge them.
Great pleasure meeting you Alex, and I am sure we will meet again, somewhere around the world!
You can find Alex’s work on his Facebook page.