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Official Nikon-Blog of Slovakia featuring Interview with Thorge Berger

Interview mit Thorge Berger im offiziellen Nikon-Blog der Slowakei

 

Official Nikon-Blog of Slovakia featuring Interview with Thorge Berger

Published yesterday (27.06.2017): a new interview with Thorge Berger in the official Nikon-Blog of Slovakia – only in Slovak!

A slightly surreal feeling – spotting an interview with yourself, and only to be able to recognize your own photos….. Julius Kotus, the editor of the official Nikon-Blog in Slovakia, recently had interviewed me. The interview was conducted in English and has now been published – in Slovak. As I suppose, I won’t be the only person who doesn’t speak and read Slovak. Therefore,  I took the liberty to re-publish the interview here in English language. Still, it could prove interesting to take a look at the Slovakian Nikon-Blog Webseite – even if you don’t speak Slovak – as Julius has made the effort to showcase more than 30 (!) of my photos, and some of these are previously unpublished. Here is the link to the Slovakian Nikon-Blog website: https://www.nikonblog.sk/komfort-a-lenivost-su-najvacsi-nepriatelia-fotografii-thorge-berger/#comments 

And here is the interview in English:

NIKONBLOG.SK – The interview with Thorge Berger (English version)

In March this year I was writing about great travel photographer Thorge Berger and his approach to shoot travel photography with a single focal lenght 35mm lens. Thorge and I got in touch and he agreed on an interview for Nikonblog.sk. So here we are. 🙂

Dear Thorge, please let us know, how did you discover that photography is your life (or love)? How did you start?

On my 16th birthday, my father gave me his old Nikon. He was a passionate traveller and photographer himself. So I started with photography at that time. In the beginning, I fell In love with black & white photos and started to develop my own films in a youth centre where they had a dark room. But then I discovered my passion for music and I wanted to become a rock star. Actually I recorded two albums with my band. But it never got very successful. Well, at least I continued shooting during our club tours …

In 2005 I bought my first DSRL. It was a Nikon D70 and I travelled through Thailand, Laos and Cambodia with my backpack and this very camera. The DSLR enabled me to check and control the results instantly, and try different settings and/or compositions if I wasn’t happy. It helped me a lot to understand my mistakes and to improve my skills, and it provided a lot of motivation to carry on while at the same time learning more and more through practice.

Is photography the only thing you do for living?

No, it is only part time. I also work as a self-employed trainer and coach in the field of personal and organizational development. But it is continuously growing and I have the feeling, the balance of both areas is shifting …

How many countries have you visited and what was the best destination to photograph and to stay in?

As of today, I have travelled five continents and more than fifty countries, many of these several times. But there is an app on my phone (“Been”) which tells me I have only seen 22% of the world. So I still have a long wish list …

What about your temptation to travel just with one lens? 🙂

This is a relatively new development for me. And honestly, I am still not entirely ready to leave all my other lenses at home. Since I wrote the article for Nikonrumors.com and PetaPixel.com I travelled to Iran, and there it turned out that my favorite lens was a 16-35mm f/4. So I have the feeling there might be something like ‘the one right lens for each trip’.

How do you communicate in countries where you can’t communicate in English or German? Do you hire a local guide?

Yes, I work a lot with guides, dedicated photo guides and fixers. This is very effective and helps me to actually get the photos I am looking for. Nonetheless, I always make an effort to learn at least some phrases in the language of each country where I travel. So I can establish a minimum of a personal contact with the people I meet. And usually, people do appreciate and value the effort.

I have noticed that you are also teaching in workshops and leading photography expeditions. How does that work? Are many people interested in traveling with a photography guide?

That’s right. It is a bit like the ‘intersection’ of my business and my passion. I enjoy sharing my passion, my experiences and my enthusiasm, and to help people to grow and to develop their own skills. This is of course possible in a workshop but it is even more effective when you can spend more time with people abroad, and they can instantly have their own experiences and actually see their own development by the end of the trip!  The photo trips I organize are not just good for the participants regarding the development of their skills. They also come home with great shots from the trip and we have a lot of fun together. Currently I am preparing two new photo expeditions: in January 2018 we will travel and shoot for 10 days in Kerala, Southern India. This is particularly interesting due to the ‘Theyyam’ festivals which only happen there at specific points in time. The other trip will be a journey to Myanmar which I will conduct in cooperation with a fantastic Burmese photographer. Besides the usual ‘must-see’s’ on this trip we will also travel to a specific ethnic tribe where the women traditionally tattoo their entire face! So, I am very much looking forward to these trips!

You yourself have been a participant with a Steve McCurry expedition in India. What does it mean to you? How has this has changed your approach to photography? What was the greatest benefit from this experience?

The trip with Steve certainly was a milestone in my own development as a photographer. Learning from Steve was not easy. I learned most when I was just observing him. I also had a portfolio review with him at the beginning of the trip which at first I found pretty disappointing. But with some distance I have to say that the few things he said really triggered a lot for me.

Do you still have some influencers or photographers you appreciate or adore?

Oh yes. Set aside all current discussion, Steve McCurry is still a genius in my eyes. But I also admire the work of many other photographers. Sebastiao Salgado, Art Wolfe, Timothy Allen, to name a few …

What does good travel photography mean to you?

When I go on a photography trip I feel very ‘alive’. I am excited and happy. It is such a privilege to be able to follow your passion. While on the road I usually have what feels like endless energy and even after many shooting days in row with little sleep – which can be pretty exhausting – I am still grateful that I can do this.

Have you ever been thinking about different photography genres, say act or fashion photography?

What I love about travel photography is the variety it offers: you can do documentation, feature reporting, people/portraits, architecture, street, landscape, wildlife etc. The possibilities are almost endless. I also love to see good photography from other genres such as the ones you mentioned, and I admire these. But I think it’s also good to keep at least a bit of focus on your passion/strength and rather develop this area then getting lost in trying to do everything.

Why do you travel with Nikon? What suits you in this system? What would you like to see from Nikon for travel photographers?

As I already mentioned, my father was shooting with Nikon and my first SLR was a Nikon. No doubt the quality always was and is top of the range. What I particularly love about my Nikon equipment is the “feel” (the haptics). And when I travel it sometimes gets pretty rough. So I love that I can rely on the durability and quality of the Nikon pro equipment.
I have to say that I am still very happy with my Nikon equipment. The only thing is that it is also relatively heavy and bulky. I was therefore quite excited when Nikon came up with the Nikon 1 series because it seemed very handy and light weight. But what does it help when the sensor just isn’t good enough? I think the image quality isn’t good enough because the sensor is too small. So I think it would be nice if Nikon would develop a small and handy full frame or at least APS-C sensor camera for travel photography.

What is your favourite travel set up?

I usually travel with two bodies: Nikon D4s and Nikon D500. My ‘standard lenses’ would be the 24-70mm on the D4s and the 70-200mm on the D500. Then I also pack further (prime) lenses, depending on the trip, and on what I expect to shoot. Also the 16-35mm f/4 became one of my favourite lenses when I can expect to shoot a lot of architecture.

Could you give some of your advices for our readers how to travel / how to get the most of your photography trips?

Well this could potentially fill a whole book (and I am currently writing one – which will be published next year ;-).
But for now, I’d recommend three things:

  1. plan in advance – but be flexible when you’re there
  2. get up early to shoot in best light – and get out again for the afternoon light and stay for the blue hour
  3. stay hungry – don’t become complacent (comfort and laziness are good travel photos worst enemies!)

Thank you very much for your time and wish you all the best for your next expeditions and of course good light!

My pleasure. Thanks a lot and thanks for having me.

 

Once again I would like to thank Julius Kotus and the Nikon-Blog Slovakia for their interest in my work and the interview! 🙂

 

 

 

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