Meet Florian Breitenberger
Posted on October 20 2018
Firstly, can you start with a little bit about yourself? When did you first start your photography journey?
I first came in touch with photography during my A-Grades back in high school in 2010. As a kid, I was always impressed by my father’s passion for shooting skiers on the mountains. Growing up south of Munich I was also highly influenced by the Alps. About eight years ago I picked up a camera and took my new found hobby in to the mountains taking pictures of my free-skiing friends. Capturing special moments in the mountains turned into a passion not long after. Now I’m based in Innsbruck, Austria allowing me to continue action sports photography while enjoying my time in the Tyrolian mountains.
How would you describe your current style?
That’s a tough one. It’s always hard to describe your own style. I could talk about contrasts and postproduction right now, but that’s probably not my style anyway. But I’d say I love to put the human being itself in direct contrast to the force of nature or other natural spectacles. And I love focusing on actions sports and nature photography in all their facets. Showing mother nature’s beauty in all their facets describes my current style pretty good I guess.
What equipment do you use and why did you select it?
I am shooting with a Canon 1Dx MKII right now. A Canon 70-200mm /f2.8 for distances, a Canon 50mm /f1.2 my wide-aperture lens, a Canon 16-35mm /f2.8 for landscapes and my kind of “always-on-camera” tool, two Profoto B600R flashes and a few Canon off-camera flashes for some strobist action. I started shooting with a Canon EOS 450D back in the day. I stuck to Canon and upgraded my equipment from time to time. I had a quick look at those new super fancy mirror-less cameras, but I quickly realised I cannot work with a digital viewfinder. So I am still one of those old-school SLR guys.
What would you say is your favourite lens and Why?
I love the Canon 50mm 1.2, even if it’s a pretty heavy one. I love shooting with maximum aperture and the performance of this little beast paired with a Canon 5D or 1Dx is just amazing. But when it comes to shooting sport the 70-200 is my favourite weapon. It covers the best focal length and the autofocus is always on point.
What time of day do you prefer to shoot at?
Sunrises are always the best, but sadly I was not born an early bird. So I’d say sunsets are rather my thing. I am also a big fan of the autumn sidelight during late afternoon biking sessions in the woods. I think this kind of light has something magical deep within and was always a good companion during mountain bike photography
What continues to motivate you to produce your work?
As soon as I started photography, I quickly realised it became a real door opener in my life. I met so many incredible people because of photography. It has enabled many amazing projects, simply because of my camera and my passion. I initially felt like action sports and commercial photography didn’t really give anything back to our society, so I started to think more about how I could make a better positive impact. It motivates me even more as soon as I realized how and started to work on it.
Among all your work what is the most memorable moment you have captured?
Personally, I’d say photos for and with my friends and beloved ones are the most memorable ones for me. Sharing special moments like a sunrise on the mountain top with all your closest friends and save this moment on a photo, makes me happy. On the other hand, business-wise becoming top 50 at the 2013 edition of the Red Bull Illume image quest and winning the people’s choice the next year gave my career as a photographer a significant push. It allowed me to realize great fun projects like the Alpencross on E-Bikes in 24 hours last autumn for example.
How do you continue to educate yourself to become a better photographer?
At the beginning of my photography, I was super curious to learn as much as I could. I really soak up all information I could get everywhere about photography and every aspect around it. Nowadays I am still educating myself, but in another way. I think the most important thing is not losing ones fervour for photography. Having fun and enjoying your passion for it is, therefore, the most important part for me. So, getting out there with the right people, having the best time of your life and enjoying nature is so far one of the best motivations and ongoing education for me.
Who are your greatest photography inspirations?
When I started photography during my A-grades around 8 years ago well-known Free ski photographers in the German-speaking area like Christoph Schoech and Snowboard photographer Lorenz Holder inspired me the most. Working beside Klaus Polzer, who founded a few well-known German Free ski magazines, also taught me a lot in the beginning. Some of his advise from the early times still helping me a lot these days. After I started working on illuminaid and received the first E-Mails from surf photographers around the globe, especially from Russell Ord, I quickly realized how much respect they gave me for the project and personally have for our Oceans. This was a super inspiring experience for me.
You are involved in some inspirational projects can you tell me more about these?
1% for the Planet: Since I came back from my latest longer journey to Mexico. I realised I wanted to do more for our environment. This encouraged me to join 1% for the Planet with my personal income and all my other ventures. The simple idea of giving 1% for a good cause fascinated me. The fact that many people can make such a great impact by giving “so little”. I am also donating my older photography work regularly to them and focus as a kind of ambassador for Europe.
The URA Collective: I wrote my bachelor thesis about sustainability and upcycling. As soon as I dipped into this topic more and more I rapidly started to realize something goes totally wrong in our society. We all live over our standards and the fashion industry is the second worst example, right after the oil industry. So, I joined two of my friends and we realized this project producing sustainable clothing made out of leftover fabrics. We don’t use any plastic for shipping or our production and support sustainable projects like The Azulita Project in Mexico, which recycles plastic out of our Oceans. We are also a proud business member of 1% for the planet.
The Pacific Garbage Screening Project: Pacific Garbage Screening contacted me about their project and after a quick look at the crowdfunding campaign I shortly realized how amazing and well thought this simple and outstanding idea is. So, I decided shorthand to support it with a print auction on my photography website and donating 100% of URA’s income as long as the ongoing Kickstarter campaign lasted. We raised additional 350€ and the print I am still auctioning is worth 400€. So, everyone who donated to this outstanding project feel free to send me your donation receipt to participate.
What would you say is the most challenging part of being a photographer?
The longer I work as a photographer the more I realise it is more than shooting photos and skill – In the end, you need to be able to market yourself well. Be able to build relationships with people and convince customers of your skill to keep the cash flow running. Keeping yourself motivated for new projects, besides your daily business is definitely an important point as well. Don’t get disappointed when jobs and projects don’t work out as expected and stay motivated.
Lastly, do you have any advice you would give someone starting out in photography?
Get the right gear to fits your needs as a beginner. Go out there and shoot your favourite things as often as you can. Put as much passion as you can into your photos. Ask your friends for their opinion. Get out there and practise and don’t give up too early. And last but not least: Don’t give away your work for free to big companies. They will never ever respect you as a professional and you will ruin the market even more for professional photographers who have worked hard to build their careers. The most important thing is: always have a smile behind the camera.