Exclusive interview with Chanel Koehl – the winner of our Travel Photography Competition of the Year
Exclusive interview with Chanel Koehl
Hello travellers and photography-lovers! Today we’ve got something special for you. Chanel Koehl, a very talented and versatile photographer, and the winner of our Travel Photography Competition of the Year gave us an exclusive interview! If you would like to know what it takes to become a world-renowned, competition-winning photographer with over 27K likes on Facebook, read on…Chinon, Loire Valley, France – the winner of our Travel Photography Competition of the Year 2013
Chanel, first tell our readers something about yourself, please.
I’m 46 years old and I’ve already lived several lives. I studied graphic art, which taught me a sense of colour and composition. Then I enrolled in the Foreign Legion for nearly 10 years which gave me the opportunity to travel a lot and meet different people, giving me an insight into the world and its landscapes. After that I was sales manager for a small company before discovering a passion for photography.
Tell us something about the winning picture. It shows Chinon Castle covered in thick fog. How did you manage to take such a stunning picture despite the difficult weather conditions?
I like that picture precisely because the fog makes the castle look even more magical and different from what one’s used to seeing. I was coming home through the vineyards from visiting a customer one morning when I saw it and had to take the photo. I used a Canon EF IS USM 100 – 400 mm f/4.5 – 5.6 series lens and the fact that the castle was far in the distance made the thin layer of fog seem thicker. That was the effect I was looking for. Sometimes difficult weather conditions, or particular constraints, lead to extraordinary photos, almost by chance.
Chinon and other castles in the Loire Valley are a frequent topic of your photographs. What’s the reason for that?
That’s true. First of all, it’s because I’m lucky enough to live in the magnificent Centre region of France where, over the centuries, kings built and modified their châteaus and this heritage is so splendid that it’s an obvious subject for photography.
When did you first become interested in photography?
A few years ago I went on a trip to Venice. Like any tourist, I had a small camera. When I showed people the pictures I’d taken, some of their reactions intrigued me. They said that I had “an eye” for a picture, turning photos that were technically modest into “beautiful” photos, or so it seemed.
What’s the main focus of your photos, what do you like photographing the most?
Even though I’m fond of using black and white and taking portraits, the main opportunity here is to photograph landscapes and nature, the wide open spaces around me. But I also like the small details of nature, using macro-photography, like plants and insects.
Have you ever missed a really great shot because you didn’t have you camera with you?
It happens all the time! (laughter)
Do you find any photographers / photos inspiring?
I love the work of Bernard Descamps. He’s a contemporary French photographer. I also like the work of Dorothea Lange because it’s charged with emotion.
What do you most love about being a photographer?
Being free to organise my time and choose my own subjects, of course, but above all the obligation to stop and take the time to observe the world around me – something that a lot of people today have forgotten how to do.
Is there anything you don’t like as a photographer?
No! Apart from the cost of the equipment and the fact that, since digital photography appeared, people imagine that it’s easy to take a photo, that all you have to do is press a button, whereas in fact the technical side of things has become very complex and it’s still the case that one “creates” a photo. Also, one shouldn’t confuse development and retouching, as in computer art.
Do you travel? What’s your favourite place in the world?
Yes, I’ve travelled a lot – to French Guyana, different countries in Europe, Morocco and so on. Among my short and long-term projects I’m thinking of going to Asia and Patagonia.
What advice would you give to those who want to start taking better pictures? What’s the key of becoming a world-renowned, competition-winning photographer like yourself?
Remain as sincere and natural as possible in your photos. Only keep the photos that are really the most striking. And above all – work, work, work! Let me quote Jacques Brel: “For me, talent is when you don’t see the work that’s gone into something.”
Find Chanel Koehl elsewhere:
Fecebook page: KOE.Photographies
Google+: Chanel Koehl