Growing up, I had always been very driven, very competitive. I was on the Swiss National B Ski team and I learned that results came from patience and dedication. We trained every day by skiing, lifting weight in the gym, or experimenting with different equipments.
At the same time I had a keen desire to document the places we visited. We raced all over Europe and the sceneries were breath taking. I sneaked in few images in between practices with a small point and shoot film camera. When I returned home, I couldn’t wait to develop my films, print contact sheets and relive the trip. I stashed the images in shoe boxes and once in while (mostly during the holiday season), I told my stories thru the visual images. I never forgot these precious moments.
When my career as a skier dwindled down, I experimented with medium and large format films. I vividly recall the smell of the chemicals and the joy of seeing an image being developed. It was magical. To this day, my mom still has one of my original prints of our cat hanging in her house in Switzerland. It is truly amazing that 30 years later, I still pause and marvel at this image.
Early 2000 was a turning point, when I moved to digital. I started to travel the world to capture images. I was still in “my competitive spirit” mode and would do pretty much anything to get an image. I climbed mountains in the middle of the night, walked on hot lava in Hawaii to reach the beach where the lava was flowing in the ocean, backpacked the challenging West Coast Trail on Vancouver Island (Canada), hiked Half Dome for the sunrise and Yosemite Fall for the sunset on the same day. I was on a “race” to click.
The digital world was addictive as I could take tens of thousands of images on every trip. I traveled to Haines, Alaska to photograph bald eagles for many years. On the first trip, I took over 30,000 images in one week. On the second trip, 15,000 and eventually on the 8th trip I was down to less than 3,000. Less images meant that I was more deliberate in what I wanted to say with my images. I could see that a switch was shaping.
It took me many many years before one of my images got some worldwide recognition. “Holding hands” (page 34) was a culmination of who I was as a photographer. I became technically savvy by applying what I had learned as a skier: Practice, practice, practice, to be ready for the moment; the determination to “stick it out” rain or shine. The Grizzly bears were the catalyst for my first book “Artan’s Day – A Little Bear in a Big World”.
I got caught in the megapixels race as I wanted to replicate the quality I had produced in the darkroom. Shooting digital medium format opened new venues and more importantly got me back to observing and pausing. I could wait patiently for moments to happen and acknowledge that the end of the road is fluid when you are an artist. I photographed for over 10 years before I published a comprehensive story about “Life – As the world should be”. It is a story about elephants (page 41), their compassion and their environment. In the days of social media, imagine the patience needed to resist the urge of publishing a project.
Personal Best is a set of images that have deep meaning and traces my evolution as a photographer and artist. The selection was treacherous as I have traveled to over 100 countries and counting. As my career has evolved I started to mix my own ink to print and produce limited edition prints. I feel like I am back in the darkroom without the smell of the chemical, but still with the joy of making images.
Limited Edition Book (1st Edition) Sold Out. Contact Oliver Klink for Personal Best (2nd Edition) to reserve a copy.