September 10, 2015

Simon Markhof fell in love after discovering our photography gloves, then sold his soul to join us on the vallerret shooter team.

No just jokes, but he did just recently join us. I managed to interrupt his busy schedule of beach hopping in Australia to ask him a few questions.

……………………………………

Carl: Hey Simon, Great to get you on skype here and take some time out of travelling around Australia, soaking up all the rays. We're stoked to have you a part of the Vallerret family and get you into a pair of our photography gloves.

For everyone else that doesn't know you, can you give us a brief run down about yourself and your background?

 

Photo | Simon Markhof

Simon: Okay, thanks man. I'm based in Bavaria, Germany. Pretty much in the same town that I've lived in ever since I was a child. I love to live very rural and not in a big city. And the landscape of my town is amazing.

I find that landscape photography is the most rewarding type of photography. So, I kind of chose that as my field. I've always been a snowboarder and into skateboarding and stuff. I love these sports and naturally, I love these kinds of photography.

I first got in touch with photography in 2005, when a friend of mine showed me a DSLR camera. I was pretty fascinated with what you can do with a camera and started playing with a compact.

Simon: Okay, thanks man. I'm based in Bavaria, Germany. Pretty much in the same town that I've lived in ever since I was a child. I love to live very rural and not in a big city. And the landscape of my town is amazing.

I find that landscape photography is the most rewarding type of photography. So, I kind of chose that as my field. I've always been a snowboarder and into skateboarding and stuff. I love these sports and naturally, I love these kinds of photography.

I first got in touch with photography in 2005, when a friend of mine showed me a DSLR camera. I was pretty fascinated with what you can do with a camera and started playing with a compact.

A few years later I started an apprenticeship as a designer and photographer for an Advertising Agency, which I now work for. By that time I was a bit more serious. I had a proper camera and was really getting into photography. The photography part of my job is varied. Let's say you have a doctor and his rooms need to be photographed, or the client needs photographs of their team, I do portrait shots, product shots and all that stuff. This all works as a creative outlet, designing, websites and all that; – so it's not just a hobby anymore.

"The landscape and snowboarding photography is more that part where I can do what I want to do."

 

Carl: So, you kinda do one style to make money and then one style to have fun?

Simon: Right. Yep, pretty much.

With landscape and snowboarding photography I can do what I want to do. When I'm shooting some kind of office space, architecture and people, it is more about what the clients want me to photograph. It's still cool but, of course, the other stuff is more my passion.

Carl: Have you always snowboarded?

Simon: Yeah, pretty much. I was forced to ski at first, until I was ten because my parents just told me to. When I was ten I got my first snowboard which I learned to ride in the backyard of our house. I never left it out of sight – I still couldn't live without snow. My girlfriend says she could live in Australia, but I couldn't.

Carl: Photography seems to be a career where you can either take on the education or work it out yourself. Which path did you take? Are you formally trained or self-trained?

Simon: Mostly self-trained. I learn a lot from the stuff I do for work, when I get critiques from the team and from other people. But I have never had professional photography training, apprenticeship, or anything like that. Didn't study it or anything.

Carl: Good o'le YouTube?

Simon: Haha, yeah, yeah. Pretty much. YouTube, and self-taught in 500 pixel and all that.

 

Carl: Do you take different gear depending on if you're going to shoot landscape or snowboarding?

Simon: Not really. In both kinds of photography I really like wide angle shots.

For snowboarding, I sometimes take my old D7000 because it has a better speed for sequence shots. So I don't take the D610full frame. But I don't really differentiate between snowboarding and landscape because I have a backpack with gear. There's a camera body and I mostly use two lenses the 24-70 and the 16-35 which fulfill most requirements.

"You can go to a place that's been photographed for a hundred times and still can see it differently"

Photo | Simon Markhof

Carl: When I think about landscape photography it seems very planned out. Is there any difference in planning for landscape or snowboarding shooting?

Simon: Most of the time, yes. Most shots are planned. Maybe we're just out having fun snowboarding and then shoot, but you're always looking and kind of planning. So for instance we saw a tree some time in the summer and I thought that it would be great if we could snowboard there and shoot that. In the end we went back and got a great shot with a simple melon over it, so it was all planned. I feel Landscape is a bit more planning though. Especially if you are traveling, then you have to do a lot of research: Which places are good at what light? Where is the sun when it sets? When does it rise and all that stuff?

You can plan a lot but much is still coincidences. You can go to a place that's been photographed for a hundred times and still can see it differently then all the photos you saw before. That is what makes it so attractive.

Carl: So you've found a location a month before and you want to go back and shoot it. What does a day look like for you? Simon: It depends highly on where the location is. If it's very remote and you're planning a sun rise shoot, then you have to get up early and walk a lot in the dark. I usually pack the backpack the day before. I have a shot in my mind, which I almost never get because it's always different in your mind. I spend probably two-three hours shooting. When I go back, first thing I do is to save the pictures, of course, from the memory card. Then I'll start processing in Photoshop and sorting out which shot is the closest one that I wanted. Finally, I make the completed images. Carl: So it'll take you like a good 6 hours to do the whole shoot in total? Simon: As long as it's something I've planned. Last year, me and a group of friends took a trip for photography purposes. We spent the whole week just shooting and scouting locations. So it's kind of location dependent.

Photo | Simon Markhof
Carl: What's your process when getting to a location, are you taking a lot of set up shots and then wait for the light to be right?

Simon: yeah, composition is the hardest part. That's what takes up most the time. You then have to wait for good light but it's not as difficult as composing and setting the shot up itself, and also processing the shot, which really is a large part

Carl: That's a good point, what are some tips that can make processing faster? Do you use a lot of actions in Photoshop and Lightroom?

Simon: I only work with Photoshop, I don't use Lightroom. I do use a few actions but they are pretty landscape photography special. I use a lot of luminosity masks for getting the look and I always try to automate as much as possible. It takes a lot of work to manually get the shot how you want.

"Go out and shoot as much as possible, See some nice places and meet some nice people."

 

Carl: Great. Do you get much interest for print sales?

Simon: yeah, I have sold a few prints to people who just wrote to me and inquired, for living rooms and the like.

Carl: How did those people find you?

Simon: Through the website mainly. Most of the time people just Google something, find the picture, click on the picture, come to the website and fill out the contact form.

Carl: So it pays off to have some good SEO for your photos?

Simon: Definitely, It always pays to have good SEO for everything.

Carl: Speaking of online, where do you spend most of your time for inspiration and looking at photography or blogs?

Simon: I like 500px for photography inspirational purposes. For tutorial purposes and stuff I like Fstoppers.com which is pretty cool. Then I have Facebook groups and the people around me.

I have a lot of friends that do photography as well, and we spend a lot of time just talking about it and seeing how you can improve a shot, send each other links and that kind of stuff. But most of the time it will be 500px and Fstoppers.

Carl: That's great, thanks for the chat bro. Do you have any last words?

Simon: Just go out and shoot as much as possible, see some nice places and meet some nice people. That's what it's all about.

Simon has great works displayed on his website at simonmarkhof.de. Here you will also find info on workshops Simon conducts around the German landscape. Simon's instagram is off course another great platform, where you can check out his work. Cheers. Carl van den Boom Vallerret Photography Gloves


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