The Diversity of Nature: How Niels Oberson Captures the Earth’s Changing Landscapes
By Phoebe Barrett - 3 min read
Driven by changing seasons and the constant urge to discover, Niels Oberson captures the beauty of nature through his sublime landscape and wildlife scenes.
We spoke to photographer Niels Oberson about the importance of authenticity in environmental photography, and how he built an incredible community of fellow wanderers.
Tell us a little about yourself. How did you begin your journey into photography?
I have always had the urge to create. Before I got my first “real” camera, I took pictures with my phone and experimented a lot with Photoshop. But when my younger brother bought a DSLR and started taking great photos, it kind of sucked me in as well and it didn’t take long until I got one myself.
“I began to appreciate the diverse nature and was really impressed by the majestic Alps and the dramatic clouds that sometimes came out of nowhere.”
You capture sublime landscapes and stunning scenes of nature and wildlife. How did you begin photographing in this genre and how has your creative approach evolved?
When I got my driving license and started discovering Switzerland’s beautiful mountain passes, I began to appreciate the diverse nature and was really impressed by the majestic Alps and the dramatic clouds that sometimes came out of nowhere. I wanted to capture all the feelings on my camera. That’s basically how I developed my style, I didn’t just want to take photos, but also recreate the feeling when you look at the picture later. I think dark and moody skies really help in this regard.
What influences you most and drives you to keep capturing these beautiful moments?
I’m mostly being driven by the always changing weather and the urge to discover something new. You could go to the same place ten times, but you’ll always see it in a different way and find a new angle to capture the beauty of nature.
“You could go to the same place ten times, but you’ll always see it in a different way and find a new angle to capture the beauty of nature.”
Are there any particular challenges you face when documenting nature and the environment?
I tend to fill my hiking backpack with photography gear and leave no room left for food. But I’m glad that my girlfriend has a small camera and makes sureI don’t starve to death.
Joking aside, the weather obviously is a challenge as sometimes it’s very unpredictable in the Alps. But the biggest challenge probably is to photograph places of interest that are overcrowded by mass tourism. I try to visit these places early in the morning or during “bad” weather. But sometimes it’s better to not visit these places at all to respect the environment.
How do you think photography can be useful in opening people up to environmental issues and persuade people to care more for the environment we live in?
I think it’s important to not only shoot the beautiful things, but also document and show the darker sides. Even though I mainly publish the “beautiful” images on the platforms like Instagram or EyeEm, I try to make people aware of what’s really going on by writing something in the caption or documenting it in an Instagram story.
But in the end it should all be authentic. For example, it doesn’t make much sense when someone visits the Lago di Braies five times a year, posts pictures of it on Instagram all the time and then talks about how overcrowded it is.
“It doesn’t make much sense when someone visits the Lago di Braies five times a year, posts pictures of it on Instagram all the time and then talks about how overcrowded it is.”
I saw that you are also part of photography collective thewander.co, can you tell us more about this project and what it means to you?
The project started as a group chat on Whatsapp which was created by @davidkratz_ and @kolkrabenjan. The main goal was to socialize more within the photography community on instagram, learn from each other and mainly get to know the people behind the accounts. After a while we decided to take the next step and created a collective Instagram account on which we feature quality accounts with less than 15k followers. We’ve built an amazing community of great photographers who show their pictures through the hashtag #thewanderco. The fellow wanderers are now a big part of my life, and the community around it made the platform what it should be - social.
What camera gear or equipment could you not live without as a nature photographer?
I often say that gear doesn’t matter, but the Nikon d750 really made my life easier with its dynamic range.
Any exciting future projects planned?
In May I’ll visit Montenegro to explore its hinterland. It’s going to be very exciting for me as the country isn’t well known among photographers but has a lot of hidden gems to offer. It will be refreshing to visit places of which I haven’t seen thousands of pictures online already.
This post was created in advance of this year’s Earth Day and as part of #NotYourCliche, our movement away from antiquated stock stereotypes and towards a more relevant, inclusive, representative view of global culture and society. If you want to see more of Niel’sstunning landscape and nature photography, visit his EyeEm profile or follow along on his Instagram feed.