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Olivier Grunewald

Three great mentors: Ernst Haas for photography, Turner for painting, and Mark Knopfler for music…

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Featured Photographer

Olivier Grunewald

About

Advertising studies in Paris when I was 18-20 years old, but I quickly let the idea down to be an “inside photographer”, by hanging my medium format camera into the famous climbing cliffs around the world for 10 years. I have begun my professional career as a mountaineering and climbing photographer. Then I came back into the wild with a large format camera. Won 3 World Press Photo contests in nature category, and published 14 books. Then I have plunged into the magic volcano world. I’m still there! That’s all folks!

Photography both drives my own life and serves as a pretext for exploring life at large. Getting emotions and strong feelings during shots is as much important as taking photos back home. All my life and my mind is all about photography, as well as family life. I travel and work most of the time with my wife Bernadette and Fanny, our 9 year old daughter and my little assistant!

Interview

Why nature photography?
To feel at one with wilderness. I particularly like very wild nature, the very wild world as the world was during Creation… It’s a real need for me. That’s why active volcanoes are my actual source of inspiration.

What's best about it?
I like being in the fields the best, outside with no limits. To feel strong emotions. My challenge is to give form to the images I have in my mind. To be able to take these images off my mind for it to become a reality.

What's worst about it?
Only passion and motivation is strong enough to support the biggest part (but invisible from most of people) of the iceberg, I mean spending days and days in front of a computer, and selling photos to people who don’t care about your feeling in the field…

Favourite species and places in Europe?
2 places : Iceland and Etna Volcanoes, both because you really feel like you are on another planet, strange, moving and still active.

What's in the bag?
My bag is never the same, so different from one place to another one…. But I never, never forget my tripod!

Your specialities / skills?
I think I’m ok enough to photograph landscapes and extreme phenomena, like volcanoes, northern lights, … and special lights.
My speciality? To be able to wait days and days for a changing light!

What will you do in your next life?
The same and better…

3 tips for beginners
1. To look at existing works about arts, paintings, sculptures, photography. Then trying to understand what you really love and why: that is the best way to find your own way…

2. To never feel content about with what you’ve achieved so far.

3. Looking, looking, looking.

Mission

My mission is to photograph the Etna volcano during a major eruption. Well, I have been waiting for this since the beginning of the Wild Wonders of Europe project!

I hope to see things that I have never seen yet with this volcano where I have already been ten times, and where I have always seen something different, and surprising.

This big European volcano is just great. Would Sir Etna honour my mission during WWoE? Earth will decide…

Best Picture

Best Picture
Ice on a volcanic sand beach, Jokulsarlon, South Iceland

What's cool about it?
Everything in this photo is pretty cool, very cool: ice, weather, and sea temperature….

I like the dramatic value of this image: a black and white landscape captured with colour film… I like the movement of the waves, the contrasts between textures, the idea of an ephemeral art, ephemeral landscape.

Could it be better?
Clouds should be darker, and a small pale light on the ice would be just great!

Behind the Scene
I had been waiting for three days under a really blue sky, which is quite uncommon in Iceland , and I was terribly bored by this blue sky. I was taking photos only during 11 PM to 3 AM only. Fortunately the 3 rd day, the wind started to blow, and bad weather started again. My feet were not so happy to spend three long hours in this cool ocean!

Date: July 1998
Location: Jokulsarlon, south Island.
Gear: Mamiya 6x7, with 50 mm lens.

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