David Köster is a Germany based landscape photographer, photo trainer and book author. In his images he stages wild, epic nature scenes. By means of dramatic perspectives, atmospheric imagery and the systematic use of natural light, Köster creates works which often appear to be paintings rather than photographs. For his artistic pictures David has been awarded with several international awards. His works are mainly used by agencies, publishers and tourism institutions. As a photojournalist, David regularly publishes his stories, articles and photos in print and online media worldwide. Since 2015, David also guides landscape photography workshops. In January 2019 his brand-new book about the art of landscape photography is being published by German Humboldt Verlag.
Photography Type: Landscape Photography
Interview with landscape photographer David Köster
November 3, 2018
How did you get your start in photography?
My passion for nature and travelling was the reason for taking up photography. When I was a child, I loved gazing through travel magazines, such as GEO or National Geographic, and I also loved watching nature documentaries. Since I am quite a creative person, it didn’t take long for my desire to develop, wanting to capture my impressions of travelling and nature and to process them visually. The initial spark would have been the time I spent in the USA during my university studies. During that time, I seriously started to look into photography.
What type of photography are you shooting and what motivated you to focus on that genre?
My area of expertise is landscape photography. Throughout the years it became clear to me that landscapes are what fascinates me the most on this planet. The wilder and the more solitary they are, the better. To me, landscapes are the epitome of nature and its creative power, the everlasting dynamic of its elements. I also like landscape photography for its exciting mix of outdoor experience, modern adventure, creativity and technical challenges.
What has been your biggest achievement or obstacle along the way?
My biggest challenge in my photographic work has been finding my individual style, my signature and developing it further. I had many moments of success, but my most beautiful and memorable success certainly were the moments I was awarded with “Glanzlichter der Naturfotografie”, Asferico, Oasis, ipa International Photography Awards and a few more.
A current milestone of success was the moment I finished my first book about landscape photography. I spent months of work, had countless sleepless nights and put a lot of effort into this book. Hence, I am happy to see my first book ever (“Getting started in landscape photography: The secret to breathtaking images” published on January 7, 2019, available in German at Humboldt Publishing House. Further information (in German) here.
Who and/or what inspires you most?
Nature itself inspires me most. Over and over again, I am fascinated by light and colors, forms and structures of planet earth. Romanticism and the paintings from this era have always been a major influence on my approach to photography. From my early childhood days I was fascinated by the paintings of Caspar David Friedrich, Carl Gustav Carus, William Turner and other artists.
What is your approach? Is there anything in particular you try to achieve during a shoot (for example triggering certain feelings, etc.) or are there any specific techniques you use?
My main objective is to create emotional images. On the one hand, I want my photos to convey what I saw and felt when I took the photo. On the other hand, I want to spark emotions with the beholder, ideally a yearning and desire to travel to the place I captured.
My photographic style is characterized by epic landscapes, atmospheric lighting scenes and dramatic perspectives. Before I even start taking photos I spend a lot of time on location scouting and planning the light. Once I am on location, I take my time to find exciting perspectives and compositions.
Why is accurate color important within your workflow?
Since I market my photos professionally (agencies, publishers, enterprises etc.) I have to ensure that the colors in my images are precise and meet industrial standards. I use color management to make sure that the images my customers receive look exactly the way they did on my screen. I also sell fine art prints and art prints. I therefore rely on a calibrated working environment, as my printed works are supposed to express exactly what I, as the artist, wanted them to convey.
Any tips or advice for photographers just beginning their career?
I’m happy to give some advice. First of all: don’t make the mistake to overestimate technical aspects. Don’t follow each and every technology hype and don’t pay too much attention to test reviews and discussions in forums. Make yourself aware of the fact that it’s not the camera taking the photo, it’s the human behind the camera, using his skill set. For starters, focus on just a bit of technical knowledge, but learn these bits by heart. Practice makes perfect, I therefore recommend you go outside and try to photograph more consciously. Study the most important parameters and settings in photography and try to understand how they influence the photo you’re taking. Have a think about image composition, working with available light, play with the depth of field and look into photo editing. Invite honest feedback from other photographers, preferably from those who are more experienced than you are. Attend photographic workshops (I offer workshops on landscape photography myself). All of the above will certainly get you yet another step closer to creating breathtaking images.