When less becomes much, much more

Interview with Tim Hall

The British photographer Tim Hall mostly does travel, landscape and portrait photo­graphy. For the current catalogue of Kitzbühel’s fashion label Frauenschuh, he undertook extensive photo tours into the region’s mountains. In his interview with LA LOUPE he spoke about the workflow that leads to the perfect photograph and raved about alpine summits and stunning views.

L.L.

What difference does it make for a photographer, whether he shoots people or landscapes?

T.H.

Well, the main difference is there is less communication with a landscape but you are also more reliant on the right kind of weather!

L.L.

You’re showing wonderful photos of Kitzbühel, framed by mystical fog. During what season were you there to take photos? What is your favourite shot? Does the one or the other photo remind you of particularly beautiful moments in the region around the so-called “Gamsstadt”?

T.H.

I was in Kitz in March and again in May; both times I was blessed by my favourite shooting conditions – swirling clouds and fog – these ingredients really help to add a sense of mystery to my work and take it a step away from reality.

L.L.

How did the cooperation with the people of Kitzbühel work? Did you have a local location-scout for your shots?

T.H.

I had a fantastic team of Anders, the art director and Penni, the creative director for Frauenschuh, to show me around, we spent a whole week chasing the clouds.

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L.L.

Your photographs are used for the current winter catalogue of the local brand Frauenschuh. How do your ideas of what “art” is match? What values do you attribute to the label?

T.H.

It is a really nice combination as Frauenschuh is all about hand made, locally crafted, high-quality products made with natural materials and my work is about the purity of a place, the emotion of being engaged with the natural world.

L.L.

What is the best time of day to shoot the perfect photo and why?

T.H.

That depends on the weather and what I am trying to achieve. I have to say I love dusk though.

L.L.

You’ve published the “Best of the Alps” collection. Why is it that you find the mountains so fascinating? Are you a passionate hiker yourself?

T.H.

I live in the city (London) and when I arrive in the mountains I feel an overwhelming sense of excitement and freedom. The mountains have so much power and energy and I love to walk, ski, drive through them all through the year.

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L.L.

How would you describe your own, personal imagery and style?

T.H.

It’s a simple message of representation the emotion of being in nature. I’m interested in representing the scale of the human figure in the landscape. I believe that showing less can have a greater impact – it leaves something to the imagination.

L.L.

What photographic challenge do you find particularly hard?

T.H.

My challenge is to find an original way of shooting new work in well trodden places and making pictures that are interesting and different.

L.L.

Have you every endangered yourself while looking for the perfect shot?

T.H.

I’ve been doing some helicopter shots recently which involves taking off the door and standing on the rail … which, considering I am not so keen on heights, has been a challenge.

L.L.

You travel a lot for you jobs. How do you prepare for a photographic journey and what is it that fascinates you about this “nomadic life”?

T.H.

I still get very excited about traveling! I love going to places I’ve never been before and discovering them for myself. It can be quite solitary work but I often get the best that way with no distractions. I especially like driving through the mountains and finding great views.

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L.L.

What can be learned about one’s own personality when expressing oneself in an artistic way like you do?

T.H.

I try to express my interests and feelings through my work and hope that comes through – it’s not always easy!

L.L.

How would you describe your personal workflow, from scouting out a location all the way to the perfect photograph? Do you have principles regarding whether or not you’d edit photographs?

T.H.

I do some research at home and try not to look at other people’s picture of the places – so I don’t have preconceptions. I like places to be fresh in my head, when I get there I tend to follow my instincts. I watch the weather and then follow the clouds …Sometimes I spend days and get nothing, then there’s a weather window and I can shoot lots of great shots in a short time. I like to leave the pictures on my computer for at least a week before editing. It’s much easier with the distance of time to edit – I’m less emotionally attached to them after some time has passed.

L.L.

How do you find the balance between your own taste and your clients’ wishes? Have you said no to a potentially lucrative job before because you didn’t like the planned concept?

T.H.

I’ve never said no! Most of my work is shot speculatively and then sold later – however when I’m hired for the shoot I will shoot what’s required but in my own style.

Slideshow Tim Hall

L.L.

How did you end up in photography?

T.H.

My dad gave me a camera for my 18th birthday and I was hooked. Then I worked for a music picture library after university and I have never stopped since.

L.L.

What was your first camera?

T.H.

Canon AE 1. Now I’m using a Hasselblad HD50.

L.L.

What sort of equipment do you need for landscape and nature shots?

T.H.

I use 2 lenses and a tripod rucksack and a good pair of walking shoes or skis!

L.L.

Does analogue photography have a place in Tim Hall’s worklife?

T.H.

I just switched to digital last year but I am still finding my way. I still love film.

L.L.

What new goals and projects lie before you? Is Kitzbühel on your “radar” again?

T.H.

I want to make a complete project of all the Alps for a book and travelling show; that might take a while though!

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Tim Hall’s Wordrap

My favourite motive?

Clouds lifting after the snowfall.

My most adventurous journey?

Floating up the Chindwin river to the edge of Naga land in Burma.

A special places in or around Kitzbühel?

The top of Hahnenkamm.

My craziest motive?

Setting up a portable studio in the middle of the Kumb Mela in India.

An advertising slogan that would go with my photographs?

Less is more!