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March 22, 2020


Photography by Gabriel Sollberger
Interview by Karin Svadlenak Gomez

Photographer Gabriel Sollberger is addicted to light and is constantly looking for special moments in everyday life. Gabriel photographs these big topographical vistas that he tells us that some people might consider them to be somewhat 'banal'. He captures these such situations in a way that allows us to see what he finds special about them, whether it is a special angle, or an unusual juxtaposition or a feeling of solitude in an empty man-made landscape. Gabriel elevates an unspectacular scene into something truly beautiful...and something worth protecting.

“We are proof that the heart is a risky fuel to burn.”
(Song: Ohia)


TPL: Gabriel, when did you start getting interested in photography?

GS: My father used to take pictures of us kids when I was little. He had a (I assume, I can’t remember the model) decent camera and I still remember how fascinated I was by the fact that I could just turn the lens and things would move closer. I then got a compact film camera from my parents and happily snapped away, taking pictures of everything. I totally enjoyed being able to capture a moment and revisit it when I got the photos back. As much as I would like to say that this interest in photography persisted, I did not follow it up and it was only a couple years later when I picked up a camera again and have kept shooting ever since.

TPL: Where do you find your inspiration?

GS: I think inspiration – for me – comes from different directions. It can be a truly beautiful, remote landscape, but it can also be a detail, unusual light in an otherwise familiar situation or a special constellation of trivial things or objects.

TPL: Do you have any favourite artists or photographers you would like to share with us?

GS: There are many, but to name just a few, I am very inspired by the new topographic movement ( Robert Adams, Bernd and Hilla Becher, others), Fan Ho, William Eggleston, Sebastiao Salgado or Nan Goldin.

TPL: Has your style of shooting changed since you first started?

GS: Definitely and I hope that it is still changing. It took me a long time to get an idea of what it is I’m actually looking for when I go out to shoot and I don’t think that this journey is over yet.

TPL: Where is your favourite place to photograph?

GS: Definitely outside. Usually an area with little to no people, but with a clear human-made element. This is my comfort zone, but I try to leave this zone from time to time and force myself to do new things.

TPL: Do you think equipment is important in achieving your vision in your photography? What would you say to someone just starting out?

GS: It depends. I’d love to say that gear doesn’t matter and in a lot of situations this is true. Still I love the dynamic range of newer cameras for landscape photography, especially since I like to go out with not too much additional equipment. I’m not so much the person who changes filters after every shot. If I had to give any advice, it would be “use a prime lens”. Not because I think that the image quality is always so much better compared to zoom lenses, it’s simply because when I used a 35mm lens for the first time, I learned so much about where I have to stand to compose my photo. Not being able to zoom really improved my images in a very short time.

TPL: Have you ever been involved in the artistic world before photography?

GS: I play the piano and was always involved in different musical projects.

TPL: Are there any special projects you are currently working on that you would like to let everyone know about?

GS: I am working on a intermediate to long term project about my home town and region. I live quite far from there now and every time I go back I try to get some shots, aiming to document it from an outsider’s perspective.

TPL: "If I wasn't photographing what would I be doing?...

GS: I have quite demanding day job, which fortunately also involves a lot of creativity. Still, photography is my safe haven and I enjoy every minute of it."