Life in Focus: Lars Schneider on Adventure Photography in Germany

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All images are courtesy of Lars Schneider.

Adventure photographer Lars Schneider hails from Hamburg, Germany. He started to pursue photography at a very young age, and began submitting work to magazines at 16. Eventually, he became Outdoor Magazine’s Travel Editor. Lars and his wife Katrin have travelled the world, while building their photography brand, Outdoor Visions, which specializes in all types of outdoor photography from yoga to landscape to ski touring. Last year, they toured the South West of the United States in a 40 year old VW Van with their newborn son.

Be sure to check out Lars on Facebook, Twitter and his very own website.

We spoke with Lars about his photography and his tour in the bus.

Phoblographer: What was the biggest inspiration to travel the US photographing the most phenomenal landscapes with your wife & child in an old VW bus?

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Lars: My wife Katrin and I have always loved to travel and of course it is part of my work as a photographer. We wanted to continue this with our baby as well. We had been to California in 2005 touring in an old VW-Bus for four months and since that was one of the greatest times of our lives, we wanted to do something similar when the plan for a road trip as a fresh family came up. We love the landscapes of the Southwest and wanted to build up our stock from this area as well, so when it came to decide where to go, it was an easy choice.

Phoblographer: Tell us a bit about the equipment you utilize in your work, what do you find is indispensable?

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Lars: I work both with Canon DSLRs and the Hasselblad H4D50. The DSLRs for the adventure sports part of my work and for filming, the medium format system more for portraits and landscapes. There are quite a few things that are indispensable on a trip like this but we also noticed that you don’t always need to bring so much equipment. It can sometimes distract you from your goal to take great pictures.

Phoblographer: How do you stay connected while you’re on the road? What is it like to work out of a VW van?

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Lars: These days a smartphone is basically all you need to stay connected with the rest of the world, if you are travelling in a 40 year old van in the US, kayaking in Mexico or backpacking in the Alps. Regarding our work, we noticed that when you are not at home in your comfortable office and are forced to be efficient with your e-mails and time on the computer overall, you are often much more efficient in your work. You do what is absolutely necessary and then are free again to go outside, shoot or just play and have fun. But I must admit, we also had the help of an assistant back home who took care of sending out requested stock images and things like that. We could have done all that right out of the bus, but it gave us more time to enjoy the trip as a family which was great.

Phoblographer: Has there been any significant challenges you’ve faced during this journey?

Lars: One of the biggest challenges for us was to accept that with our son Fietje on board, we were not completely free in our decisions. We knew that before and the goal was always to make him happy, so we’d all be happy and make him enjoy the trip as much as we did, but being somewhere with great possibilities for photos and good light but not beeing able to shoot, because it was feeding time or he needed our attention in other ways, was sometimes hard to accept. It was a learning process but since the trip was a family time-work-mix, that was all good in the end.

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Phoblographer: On this trip, did you have a route pre-planned in advance, or have you been hitting the road stopping at random?

Lars: We did plan a route for the whole two months before we left home, but basically had to alter it right in the first week, when it became obvious, that Fietje didn’t enjoy driving us much as he had before we left Germany. We wanted to do a big loop through the South West but ended up doing a smaller loop. The good thing though was, that we now had more time to spend in the different places we visited. And after many years of extensive traveling all around the world that is one thing we learned and remembered again: better travel around less and have more time in one place.

Phoblographer: What has been the most memorable part of this unique experience?

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Lars: Besides the fact that it was amazing to experience this trip with our baby and see the world through his eyes, there was something else: Even though we are outdoor people and enjoy being somewhere in the wild with no others around for miles, it was the people we met that made this trip special. As we often stayed on campgrounds in State and National parks and noticed so many interesting vehicles with so many interesting owners – and all quite different and way more unique than the scene in Germany – we started a personal project portraying them with the Hasselblad. During this process we had great conversations and learned so many new stories and heard opinions about life that were interesting. We didn’t always share those opinions but no matter what, the people were extremely friendly and helpful and it was a great joy to connect this way through our passion and photography.

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Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.