Interview with Thomas Bichler
#1 Please introduce yourself
I am 47 and live as a self-taught photographer and author at Lake Constance in Southern Germany. Minimalistic black and white nude art and long exposure landscape photography, at best combined in one picture are my prefered genres.
#2 How did you get interested in photography?
I got my first SLR camera as a child and started to take photos mostly on my first alpine climbings at the age of 8 or so. Later on I used a camera to log my travels throughout Europe. Nothing special and far away from any pretensions. When working at a tourist office in the late 90s I was responsible for the picture library, which was my first contact with professional photography. Over time I decided to complete missing motives by myself with some first success and more and more passion over the years. When I went into my own business as an author in the tourism business I learned that photography is the perfect supplement to writing articles and engaged myself more and more with the topic until today.
#3 Do you have an artistic/photographic background and have you been inspired by an artist/photographer?
Not at all. I learned photography self-taught.
I was inspired a lot by photographs of Ansel Adams, Michael Kenna and Peter Mathis, when switching my personal coloured landscape travel photography to black and white. Later on I found inspiration in the work of a lot of photographers – too much to name.
#4 How much preparation do you put into taking a photograph?
Depends on the topic of a shooting session. When making landscapes photographs I usually hike around the area until finding a good spot to work. Despite the planning of where I want to go, my landscape photographs are usually more spontaneous and unplanned than well prepared. Totally different when working nude art. Than I do quite a lot of research into a location and the choice of a model, because I’m more reliant on good light and a good performance of my model. Usually I only take few photographs during my photo trips, so everything should be perfect.
#5 How did you get into nude art photography and how do you find the models to work on your projects?
Nude art was my first contact with black and white photography. It’s been a favor for a friend 15 years ago to create a calendar for her boyfriend. We tried had fun and success. So I went on with her and other friends back than. Today I usually book (semi)professional models from all over Europe to find the perfect model for my ideas.
#6 What is it about (nude) photography that interest you the most and why do you work solely outside and in black and white?
My first steps in nude art photography have been inside. But I never felt comfortable and soon realized that studio work is not the right thing for me. I usually spent most of my leisure time and even a lot of my work time outside. And of course, landscape photography was my passion long before nude art. So it’s been a speedy decision to go outside and create an equal co-existence of both genres.
I do like the combination of soft skin and the often rough surrounding in my pictures, like rocks, trees, ice or whitewater. It is a continuous challenge to integrate humans into nature and to make them a part of this majestic, vast and empty landscape. Black and white gives me the most possibilities to accent the lines, lights and forms I want to see as the main object in my pictures, no matter if landscape or nude art photography. I never liked pictures with too much information and prefer to work as minimalistic as possible. B&W gives me the chance to do so better than colour, which is also a part of my every day life. So you can say, black and white is kind of an escape and burst of reality as well.
#7 Which places have been your favourite shooting sites so far and why?
As living at the shore of Lake Constance, I’ve some of the best spots right in front of my door for landscape photography. Furthermore I love the Alps and Britain, esp. the Hebrides, as my favorite travel destinations.
When making nude art photographs I reduce myself to „alpine nude art“, means I exclusively work in the Alps in summer and in the the surrounding uplands during the rest of the year, especially in the Black Forest and Palatinate Forest.
#8 What do you do in your life besides photography?
Beside my black and white photography, I primarily write articles and texts and take pictures for tourism agencies and magazines. Luckily fine art photography becomes slowly but continuously more and more a part of my income.
#9 What future plans do you have? What projects would you like to accomplish?
Nothing special, to be honest. Developing my skills, finding my inner peace in what I do. Actually I’m working at the very last moment on a new calendar, combining my fine art photography from Lake Constance with poetry from local lyricist and poets. This will be on stock this summer.