A chat with Jochen Schlenker­

In 2005 Jochen Schlenker left his native Germany – and his IT career – to embark on a round-the-world trip. It changed his outlook so profoundly that he never returned to his old life. Six years later, having joined Robert Harding’s talented pool of photographers, he is still travelling. He describes how it was this flair for taking photos that earned him a passport to a nomadic existence. “I had the idea to try and use all the photos that I took on my trip, so I sent them to a couple of agencies,” he says. “Then photography became a way of supporting the travel, and I just kept on travelling.”

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© Jochen Schlenker­

Although he has bases in Australia and Germany, Jochen is at home ‘on the road’. “I’m on the move most of the time,” he says. “More and more I work on the images while I’m travelling. I don’t have to return to an office.”

At the time of speaking Jochen is photographing the Blue Mountains near Sydney – a popular hiking spot. He has photographed diverse subjects – from beaches through to Buddhist temples, portraits and cityscapes – but his favourite subjects are mountainous landscapes. “I love the Alps, the Himalayas and the Rocky Mountains,” he says. “Sometimes it’s not so comfortable walking up with all your gear,” he adds. “But equipment is getting lighter and cameras are getting smaller.”

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© Jochen Schlenker­

Jochen also loves the challenge of shooting animals, and asked about his most memorable shoot, he recalls a time when his two favourite subjects came together in dramatic style. “I was shooting ibexes, a kind of mountain goat, in the French Alps,” he says. “They are usually quite shy, but I managed to get close to them.” One day, having photographed the animals during the afternoon he set up his tripod to capture the reflections of mountains and clouds in a mirror-like lake. “Then a lone ibex walked by in the distance, completing the image,” he recalls. “That was my all-time favourite shooting experience.” The image won him a 2010 Wildlife Photographer of the Year award.

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© Jochen Schlenker­

Jochen’s more challenging experiences have often involved getting to the sites he wants to shoot. “I remember travelling in Jordon, bordering Israel, and somehow I just got on the wrong road in my rental car and was driving close to the border,” he recalls. “I got stopped and searched three or four times by the military. I didn’t know what they were going to do – that type of thing can get a bit scary at times.”

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© Jochen Schlenker­

Asked what advice he would give to novice photographers, he replies: “The most important thing is to be out there all the time and take as many photos as you can – just learn by doing. I read something written online by another photographer and there was a lot of truth in it. He said: ‘If you’re starting out in photography you have to just sleep, eat and shoot.’”


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