Meet Our Experts I Hannes Becker – Professional Landscape & Nature Photographer
An Interview with Hannes Becker
In this interview, Hannes shares his passion for photography, his love for the Arctic, particularly Svalbard, and the importance of capturing the beauty of this fragile region. Don’t miss the opportunity to join Hannes on one of our photo tours in Svalbard this September, where you can witness the enchanting autumn light, experience Europe’s largest ice cap, Austfonna, and encounter captivating wildlife including polar bears, arctic foxes, and walruses.
Please introduce yourself. What is your background and passion as a photographer?
I’m Hannes Becker, a freelance photographer specializing in the adventure and landscape niche. Having grown up in rural Germany, my photography style has been heavily influenced by my early surroundings. These days, I find inspiration in the north and I am drawn to remote locations. In order to inspire viewers and authentically portray my experiences, I not only document my travels but also bring a part of my personal interpretation to life through photographs, emphasizing composition and lighting.
What drew you to the Arctic, in particular Svalbard, as a photographer?
After my first trip in 2018, I quickly realized the incredible and unparalleled nature of Svalbard. It is a place so pure and pristine that I had never witnessed anything like it before. Once you have been there, the likelihood of returning is high. There’s a genuine risk of being bitten by the “Arctic bug”. It’s an intangible force with no antidote. As a photographer, the possibilities are endless, whether you focus on capturing wildlife or landscapes like I do. No other country exhibits such majestic tranquility and vastness, evoking a profound sense of soulfulness. When you visit Svalbard, you encounter the elements firsthand. You start to feel the greatness of the surroundings and appreciate your own vulnerability. Everything mentioned above is something I seek.
Why is a small expedition vessel the best way to visit Svalbard as a photographer? What makes Vikingfjord ideal for photography expedition cruises in the Arctic?
I have embarked on numerous expeditions across Antarctica, Greenland, and Svalbard. Some of my most cherished journeys have always been the cruises with fewer people. That way, you get to know each other on a deeper level, and even strangers can become friends afterward. Sharing those once-in-a-lifetime experiences with familiar faces is much more fulfilling and rewarding.
How do you approach storytelling as a photographer?
Instead of solely focusing on epic landscapes, I strive to discover and capture a diverse range of elements. It could be the clouds, the waves, or the moss—things that evoke emotions, possess textures, and exhibit intricate details. I extensively employ various focal lengths, from wide-angle to telephoto lenses. Each landscape presents itself differently depending on the lens utilized. By capturing a variety of perspectives, one can portray a location and convey a much more comprehensive narrative about it.
Other than a camera and lenses, what else do you pack in your camera bag for an Arctic Expedition?
Most definitely, a big and warm jacket is essential. Even though it’s September, temperatures can drop significantly or a sudden snowstorm can occur. But I suppose that’s part of the more essential items to bring. Due to the cold weather, batteries tend to drain much faster than usual. It’s crucial to have enough batteries and power banks. A good pair of gloves and a monopod will assist you in holding your camera steady on board. Sometimes, I even bring a few hand warmers because you can’t capture anything if your hands aren’t functioning properly.
Is it necessary to have the best and most expensive gear when going on a photo expedition?
Absolutely not, although I would advise bringing a telephoto lens. However, all cameras, regardless of brand or model, are sufficient. What matters far more is having the knowledge of how to use them effectively.
Who is the target audience for the photo tour? Is it necessary to be a professional to participate?
No, as Konsta and I will take care of you at all times. We are onboard to assist you in capturing the shots you desire. Whether you are a professional or not, our mission is to create stunning images and stories of breathtaking landscapes.
Why is it so important to protect the Arctic? And how can photography be used for conservation and help spread the message about the threats the Arctic faces?
We are all sharing a place of unbelievable beauty, but also incredible fragility. Places like the Arctic are affected the most, with climate change and rising temperatures causing an even faster melting process of glaciers and sea ice. Glaciers used to reflect most of the sunlight, keeping the planet cool. Sadly, in the last 100 years, the ice has receded significantly, ultimately leading to a rise in the global water level. It’s a frightening feedback loop that is almost impossible to ignore. This is a global problem, but not everyone has the opportunity to witness it firsthand. By capturing the effects of climate change and sharing them online, I hope to raise awareness of this issue. Of course, the situation is much more complex, but I am excited about engaging in inspiring conversations onboard to find a way to effectively communicate our message to the world through the images we create.
Do you have any tips for those who consider joining a photo tour?
Since we are going to explore the East of Svalbard, I can’t recommend joining our tour enough. The aim of this trip is to capture the meltwaterfalls of the Austfonna Ice cap. This rare phenomenon occurs as the ice cap warms during the summer months, causing streams of meltwater to cascade over the sheer ice cliffs. It is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.