Interview met beeldmaker Michael Valjak

Michael Valjak's landscapes

For German Michael Valjak, photography means total freedom. "There's nothing more amazing than being out in nature and coming up with beautiful compositions," he says. We're fascinated to learn more about our European neighbour Michael Valjak.

The Black Forest and luscious meadows

When Michael thinks back to his youth, he remembers the two places that established his fascination with nature. One is the village of his birth in the north of the Black Forest, and the other is the luscious meadows and bare rocky peaks of the Alps, where he spent holidays with his family on a fairly regular basis. Surrounded by so much beautiful nature, it made perfect sense for Michael to reach for his camera from time to time. "I bought an analogue camera when I was a teenager. I could only take thirty-six photos per film, which was pretty expensive for me at the time. It meant that every photo had to be good the first time around," he explains. Michael only really started experimenting when he got his first digital camera at the beginning of the century. "It meant I could immediately check if the photo was good and if something needed to be adjusted. Finally, I didn't have to wait ages for it to be developed."

From hobby to organised photography trips

Michael comes from Neuss, a typical German town, a stone's throw away from Düsseldorf. During his studies, he completed an internship as an events technology specialist, which brought him to the German Rhineland. This urban environment meant that he started to become more interested in cityscapes, skylines and unusual architecture. As Michael's interests changed, camera technology also evolved. "When I held my first digital single-lens reflex camera in my hand back in 2012, I was hooked right away," says Michael. "Ultimately, I decided to dive deeper into this hobby." No sooner said than done! In the years that followed, Michael devoured dozens of specialist books on various aspects of photography. He deepened his knowledge of digital post-processing, added to his technical equipment by getting a professional camera including a variety of lenses, and organised photography trips. Michael thinks it's important to have good technical equipment with him so that he can take photographs in all weather conditions. "Because imagine discovering a beautiful waterfall and missing half its features," he laughs.

Nature, landscapes and cityscapes

From the beginning, it was clear to Michael that he wanted to focus on the themes of nature, landscapes and cityscapes. He takes several photography trips a year and has already taken great photos in really different places. Whether it's the country landscapes of Switzerland, Tuscany or Scotland, or the urban hotspots of the Rhineland, like Cologne and Düsseldorf, Michael finds exciting compositions everywhere that are more than worth capturing. Michael stays at the same spot for hours, waiting patiently for weather conditions to shift so he can get the lighting effects he wants. "If I've only taken one or two good photos by the end of the day, then it's a successful day. For me quality is more important than quantity," says Michael. We definitely believe that his patience is worth the effort! "I think it's important to capture a specific mood in all my photos," he says. "I notice the smallest details in the composition and edit the images slightly so that the colours are perfect and coherent, while still maintaining their natural impact.

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