"Imagery is powerful, a single shot can capture an emotion or trigger a feeling within.”
Award-winning photographer Chris Schmid is constantly researching how to capture unique still and motion images using the latest technologies. His diverse and exciting photographs focus on wildlife, travel and outdoor sports.
Whether he’s waiting for hours in the hopes of capturing a unique action shot in the African savana, or flying over the earth with his drone, his aspiration always remains the same; to photograph in the midst of the elements, conveying the excitement of his subjects moving through the natural environment.
About / Biography
"Imagery is powerful, a single shot can capture an emotion or trigger a feeling within. It can evoke the environment of the subject or reflect the passions of the photographer... it is a brilliant, simple method to share one's viewpoint with another."
Self-taught photographer Chris Schmid describes his photographs as “an invitation to discover the world with fresh eyes and childlike enthusiasm”.
His images aim to convey a sense of his experiences and emotions, drawing the viewer into an action-packed visual story of extreme sports, stampeding animals and ocean spray.
Dividing his time between outdoor, travel, sports and wildlife photography; Chris’ equipment needs to thrive under incredibly pressured and fast paced conditions. Working with the Sony α7R, Chris relies on his cameras to allow him to “travel light without compromising image quality”, as well as to enable him to capture the right moment of action in a split second. Recently, Chris has also been experimenting with attaching his small Sony α7r and α7s camera to a drone to facilitate the creation of ariel images and footage.
At just 30 years old, Chris describes his body of work as the result of learning from his “mistakes and experiences”. Despite this humble representation, he has attracted an impressive deal of professional interest, attaining accolades in various international photography awards including the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year, the Nature's Best Photography Africa and the PDN Great Outdoor Photo Contest.
Commissions / Image Galleries
At the beginning of 2014, Chris had the idea to use a drone to shoot rock climbing in order to give a point of view that a helicopter cannot obtain. He started to search for climbers to work with and came across Katherine Choong, 2009 Junior World Champion. With her, help Chris also found the ideal location; Gimmelwald in the Bern Oberland of Switzerland - a place with a dramatic landscape and scenic mountains. To take the pictures, Chris mounted his camera to a DJI S900 drone. With about 12 minutes of fly time per battery (4 batteries in total), Chris was able to take still and motion pictures for about 40 minutes.
You photograph ‘action’ - and have shot some extraordinary images of animals such as leopards, brown bears and elephants. Do you often place yourself in the path of danger to capture the perfect image? What has been your most dangerous moment involving wildlife?
When I’m shooting wildlife images, I’m always trying to respect the animals and keep a safety distance between them and I. I’m always searching to have the most natural images without compromising the animal’s comportment. When I’m on site, I would prefer to stay far away from the animal and use a telephoto lens to have a natural feel to the images. If it wants to get closer, that’s great, but I would never force the contact. My priority is also to place the animal in its environment; it’s very important for me to show the link between the animal and its habitat.
Do you tend to focus on animals that are headed toward extinction? You are photographing leopards once again later this year; why do leopards take such a prominent place within your photography?
I have a fascination about mysterious animals such as the muskoxen, the wild brown bears and the leopards. The ones that are difficult to find require patience and challenge, living in remote locations. When I make my research about an animal to capture, I’m also looking at their surroundings. If we want to protect a species it starts with protecting the environment around them. I’m not particulary focusing on animals that are headed toward extinction. It’s just letting people know what’s there and showing the fragility of our environnment but also the beauty of it.
That’s why I think I’m fascinated by the leopards. They have this special phantomatic comportement; they look so strong and in the same time so fragile.
You’ve said in the past that you aim to convey a ‘childlike enthusiasm’ in your images – is this due to being self-taught and the age you started taking photographs?
I think yes. I’m always marveled by the beauty of our surroundings, and for me it’s a real chance to be able to tell stories. I definitely think that a single picture can tell a story. Capturing images for me is like a child showing its first drawing to its mom. It’s a real passion and I really enjoy being outdoors. I couldn’t think to stay inside a studio; there are such amazing things in our world to discover!
What is it specifically about wildlife, travel, outdoor sports and the environment that draws you in?
I just love being outdoors - discovering new areas. It makes me feel alive. My job is around 50% sports and outdoor photography and 50% nature and wildlife. I have always been fascinated by wildlife photography. It requires more time on site; you need to take the time to know the animal, its environment and more than anything, you need to respect them. When you’re doing wildlife photography, you need to be patient, really patient. This is the opposite of sport and outdoor where you are always in action. So shooting sports and outdoor helps me catch the action of the wildlife, and shooting animals and nature helps me to control the stress and pressure during a sport or outdoor shooting. They merge really well together.
Like so many – you say you have learned from your mistakes and experiences. Which mistake and experience have you learned the most from?
The magic moments last only a few minutes. These moments are quite rare, making for great photography, which is all part of being in the right place at the right time. It’s these moments that make photography so unique, so rewarding. And you must make all your chance on your side by bringing with you always a camera. I’ve missed so many shots at the beginning moving around without any cameras next to me. Now I always have my camera with me.
Your use of drones must open up all kinds of possibilities – what made you decide to start using them within your photography?
The drone allows you to access location where helicopters can even fly over a canyon, dam, etc. But first of all it gives you a very unique point of view, allowing me to diversify the still and motion images. I really love the bird's eye view because you must play with the shadows, the movement, and the colors of the environment in order to give some relief to the landscape. It’s very exciting!
Your videos are beautiful! Tell us a bit about your editing technique.
I love storytelling so I’m making all my edit by myself with Adobe Premiere. It allows me to have a full control on my final movie. It requires some time to do it but I really enjoy it. Mixing your images with different music, searching a scenario, etc. It’s quite challenging to do both still and motion when you’re on location because you’re always afraid to miss THE MOMENT. But it gives you so much more!
Give us one word to describe your drive as a photographer
What has been your most defining moment as a photographer?
Well, quite hard to answer, but I think the most defining moment as a photographer is when you start to receive recognition. It makes you push your limit furtherto capture these images that can tell a story.
KitSony α99IISony α9
Sony FS7m2Sony 500mm f/4.0 G SSM
Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GMSony FE 100-400 mm f/4.5-5.6 GM
Sony FE 85mm f/1.4 GMSony FE PZ 28-135mm f/4.0 G OSS
Sony FE 70-200mm f/4.0 G OSS
Zeiss FE 24-70mm f/4.0 ZA OSS
Zeiss FE 16-35mm f/4.0 ZA OSS
Zeiss FE 35mm f/2.8 ZA Sonnar T*
Sony FE 28mm 2.0Sony 35mm F1.4 G
Manfrotto tripods and video head