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Stefano Unterthiner

I am dreaming to be able
to spot some wolves in the Alps.

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Featured Photographer

Stefano Unterthiner

About

Stefano Unterthiner was born in Aosta Valley (Italy) in 1970 and took up photography at the age of 17. Stefano specialises in trying to tell an animal's life story, which brings him close to a particular species for a long period. On top of all, there is Stefano's strong engagement for wildlife conservation and environmental issues. His work is featured internationally in magazines such as: National Geographic, GEO, BBC Wildlife, Terre Sauvage, Animan, Airone. In March 2007, Stefano became a member of the ILCP, the International League of Conservation Photographers.

Website: www.stefanounterthiner.com/

Interview

Why nature photography?
I like nature photography mainly because it gives me the possibility to stay out in the wild. Since I was a child, I loved to spend time in nature; I grew up in a small mountain village, where I learned how much fun it can be to discover the nature around your home. Moreover, I am a storyteller (that doesn’t mean I talk too much….): I like the possibility to tell “stories” of wild animals through my images. That’s what I can do with nature photography.

What's best about it?
The possibility of travelling around the world, the chance to discover and approach the wildlife, to meet different cultures, but also to spend time in complete solitude in some of the most remote and wild areas on Earth! It’s an exciting life, and you never stop to learn.

What's worst about it?
After spending long periods in the field, it is always difficult to return home and sit at the computer for weeks: selling stories and images, writing a new project outline, looking for funding, preparing invoices, making phone calls and replying to email – for days! It’s not funny at all, but this is a part of the job of a wildlife photographer.

Favourite species and places in Europe?
I have always been extremely fascinated by the wolf. I am dreaming to be able to spot some individuals in the Alps (last year, I had the chance to photograph one wolf in Finland), where the wolves started to re-colonize. My favourite places are the Alps (of course!) and Scandinavia (and generally the Northern regions): both are home of some of the last vast wilderness in Europe.

What's in the bag?
Always too much for my taste (and for my back…); so, I often ask my friendly wife Stéphanie to help me! Among my preferred lenses, I particularly like the 200-400 mm by Nikon: a very useful lens for wildlife photography. And then I never forget to take a wide-angle: I like to shoot wildlife with a 20 mm, whenever possible.

Your specialities / skills?
I am a “true” wildlife photographer, meaning that my speciality is to take pictures of wildlife and tell their story with my pictures. I particularly like mammals and among them, I’m fascinated by canids and primates. My best talent is probably the ability to shoot original and “new” images; my trademark is maybe the use of wide-angle with wildlife.

What will you do in your next life?
I like writing… so maybe to write animal's life stories?

3 tips for beginners
1) Learn as much as possible about your subjects; and respect them more than your photography!
2) Stay in the field as long as you can; and do not spend too much time at your computer…
3) Ask yourself: why are you doing nature photography? Try to have a project; and not photograph just to get your best image, to enter to a photography competition or to post to your preferred online-forum, but shoot with an idea!

Mission

My first mission is scheduled for September 2008. I got an assignment to photograph Eleonora Falcons in Greece. It’s not an easy mission: this beautiful falcon nests on the cliffs by the sea, so I’ll not have a comfortable hide to get my images… Then I’ll move to Poland for bison: in early February I’ll try to get the “spirit” of these magnificent animal in the cold of Bialowieza forest. Finally, I’m planning to visit Sweden to photograph cranes and whooper swans. For sure, a more relaxing and easy target!

Best Picture

Best Picture

What's cool about it?
This is an “old” image (I took it in 2003), but it’s still one of my most beloved images I have taken in Europe. I like the composition, the light, the reflections in the water. It’s just a simple moment captured on film.

Could it be better?
It could be “different”, but not necessary better…

Behind the Scene
During the summer of 2003, I spent months photographing this fox in the Gran Paradiso National Park in Italy. I had the possibility to sleep in a small private mountain refuge. That made it easier for me to follow my “friend”, the fox. I took this image one late afternoon, when the fox was coming close to this pond to drink.

Date: July 2003
Location: Gran Paradiso National Park, Italy
Gear: Nikon F5, 20 mm, Provia film

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