Meet Jürg Kaufmann, Swiss Fine Art Photographer - +Beryll Worn By Good People

Meet Jürg Kaufmann, Swiss Fine Art Photographer

+Beryll: Jürg, thanks for coming in.

Jürg: Thanks for having me.

+Beryll: So, when did you start photographing and what got you into it?

 Jürg: I never planned on being a photographer. After 10 years in international management consulting, I took a sabbatical. I went backpacking through south East Asia for 3 months and hiking in the Swiss alps. I felt the desire to go back to my roots. Although the previous years were very intense, and I needed to charge my own batteries, it was a very enlightening experience to step away and look at life from a different perspective.

During this time, I got a phone call from our Olympic Team, and a few weeks later, I was on a plane to China to photograph the Swiss Olympic Sailing team in China 2008 Olympic Games.

After that, I never went back to my "real job." It felt like living in a dream and I thought I was a good photographer. Today, 15 years later, I know what I'm good at and what I still have to learn. But as a photographer, I know I'm never done learning. 

+Beryll: Your main work is fine art nature photography. What is it exactly that draws your attention towards this subject ?

Jürg: I grew up very close to nature, I have been living in the mountains since my early childhood. I try to find details in the mountains, new ways to look at them, light, shadow, and shapes, and then the magic happens.

Although living in our civilization is sometimes challenging, nature can inspire us to make the right choices and the motivation to stay focused on our goals. If I can do this with my photos, I am happy and can hopefully make a valuable contribution.

+Beryll: How do you prepare for a photoshoot, and what equipment do you typically use?

Jürg: Besides controlling your cameras and knowing the equipment well, I train quite a bit to remain fit. Weather forecasting is an essential element, as also mentally anticipating the photos. I constantly ask myself what I need to make this happen. Blue sky, clouds, and then all the technical mountain gear. I also spend a lot of time looking at maps, studying the landscape and trying to imagine what could be photographed and how. But when I'm there, I mostly go with the flow.

+Beryll: How do you reach and photograph these amazing destination? It seems like you travel to places that most people can only dream about.

Jürg: It's either hiking or in a helicopter. For both of them, preparation is essential. It's always teamwork. If you go hiking, you should not go alone; in the chopper, cooperation with the pilot is vital.

You can't sit in the chopper and say hold on here for 10 minutes to find the suitable composition. I mean, you can, but it comes with a price tag. When you are hiking you also need a clear idea, otherwise, you waste a day or more of two people out in nature. While hiking, you are constantly in balance between pushing harder to be fast in the terrain. Still, you don't want to lose good opportunities or focus, and the safety element is vital.


+Beryll: What are the challenges you face when you work in these high altitudes?

Jürg: You must be prepared and fit, knowing where and why you are here. Acclimatization is critical. I can only be creative if my body and mind are at peace with the environment I find myself in.

+Beryll: Where do you get your inspirations from and who is a photographer you looked up to in the past ?

Jürg: Initially, I was looking for a great old master to understand their ideas, mentioning one, Ansel Adams. I also lost a bit of time looking at other photos online, but today I focus on doing my thing.
For eight years, I was the official photographer of the Patrouille des Glacier, probably the toughest high mountaineering ski race.
Weeks and days in high altitude, experiencing many different weather conditions, light, and countless flights in the helicopter. This allowed me to see a part of the mountains to which you usually don't have access. Over the years, you build up new ideas and try to realize them.

+Beryll: Jürg, what does an adventure enthusiast like you do when he's not photographing?

Jürg: I like to photograph in the studio, having time to think carefully, work with light and study my compositions. Besides that, I need to do all the admin jobs that every small entrepreneur must do. Selling artwork is a crucial part, but it is not easy today with so many photos on the market. When I have time I love going jogging or just simply relax on my couch.

+Beryll: Thank you Jürg.

Jürg: Thank you!