Through his photography of amazing alpine landscapes and mountainous backdrops, Peter Mathis constantly pursues his goal of encouraging participants in outdoor sports to treat nature with greater care and respect.
Although he originally trained as a carpenter after leaving school, his love of the mountains and climbing in his native Austria (which he’s been doing for nearly 30 years) generated a desire to capture the spirit of alpinism on film, which he did at first at an amateur level. In 1979, however, he bought his first view camera, in 1983 his first 35mm SLR camera and in 1986, he switched to a full-time career in photography.
While Peter has had no formal photographic education and declares himself to be a ‘self-educated photographer’, he has had a lot of training, which together with ‘a certain amount of talent’ and ‘the ability to question yourself’, he considers key to photographic success. He advises young photographers to ‘take as many pictures as you can and experiment’ and to ‘always look at what other good photographers do’, but also recognises that his own training continues: “Through my personal contacts with some extremely well educated professional photographers, I still learn a lot about the technical aspects of photography and how to create technically perfect pictures. It is this perfection that I want to transfer to outdoor and sports photography.”
| ||Working for clients such as Willy Bogner, KTM Motorcycles, Völkl, Fischer Ski, Red Bull, and Patagonia, he draws his inspiration from the likes of landscape photographer, Ansel Adams, but particularly admires surf photographers, who swim with their camera equipment close to their surfer subjects until the light is just right for the shot. “Everything is moving,” he says, “even the photographers themselves, and yet they still take these incredible pictures!”|
Of his own assignments, he has enjoyed the work for KTM Motorcycles most, because of the challenge of photographing the motorcycle in attractive surroundings while conveying the machine’s power and speed. As well as his clients, others have also been impressed with his photography – he was the first Austrian photographer to be named a QEP (Qualified European Photographer) and he has won the Banff Mountain Photography Competition in different categories on two occasions. He is of course also proud to have been named a Hasselblad Master for 2007.
Taking high quality photographs in the outdoor environments in which Peter works, where temperatures can vary enormously, demands a robust and reliable camera system, which includes outstanding lenses. And that’s why he uses Hasselblad camera systems: “Hasselblad have always had the best lenses and cameras. I tested the Hasselblad H2 in winter in Austria in temperatures down to minus 20 degrees and the camera worked trouble-free. I also really love the compatibility of the whole Hasselblad system - I have some V-system lenses and with an adapter I can use them for the H-system as well. For me, it is a great advantage to use one camera as digital and/or analog because I am not always close to civilisation and electricity.”
For landscape images he used to use a 4x5 inch camera as well as a Hasselblad 500C and 503 CW, and for his sports photography a 35mm SLR system. But last winter, he had the opportunity to test a Hasselblad H-system with a digital back. “From the first moment,” he says, “I knew that with this camera I could shoot action photographs as well. Having bought my own Hasselblad H2, I bought a CFH digital back a few months later and now I only work with digital format. I use the H2 as much as I can for sports photography and I only use the H2 with a digital back for landscape photography. I now definitely prefer digital to analog photography for several reasons: the whole workflow is in one studio, the client can examine the results immediately on the computer, and digital files are much better than an analogue ones – sharper and with more contrast that even a 4x5 inch camera.”
While taking a similarly serious approach to the organisation of each photographic assignment – ‘excellent athletes, not just good ones; perfect weather conditions; perfect circumstances; good choice of the positions and, of course, a full briefing as to how client wants the image to appear’ - Peter still has his dreams and plans for the future. He would very much like to shoot a reportage for an international magazine such as National Geographic, Stern, Geo, Paris Match or the Times magazine, and is determined to find a way to raise the use of medium format in sports photography to the same level as 35mm format. We wish him well.
For more examples of Peter’s work, go to www.mathis-photographs.com