Johny Goerend is a hobby photographer from the small country of Luxembourg. He’s a CEO of a web agency. With a passion for landscape photography, he recently took trips to the Lofoten islands in the north of Norway. While the big aim for the trips was to find northern lights, the landscapes on the archipelagos also create many stunning photo opportunities. He always tries to share some stories around the photo, so people can better understand how the photograph was actually created.
In this interview, Johny shares his experiences as a hobby photographer with insights on how photography enthusiasts can strike a right balance between passion and work.
How did you become interested in photography and when did you first get your own camera?
My dad used to do a lot of photography too when he was younger, so he got me a camera for my 12th. It was an analog camera, as digital was only in its very first steps (cameras had 1 MP…). It got me started, but I lost interest after around two years just because I didn’t have any friends with whom I could discuss about photography. At the age of 18, because my girlfriend (who is now my wife) had a digital camera, and DSLRs were just being released, I got curious again and so I bought my first DSLR.
What do you usually take photos of? What story do you want to tell using photographs?
I love landscape photography more than any other kind of photography, because of the experience I have before, while, and after taking the photos. I especially like winter and the calm landscapes it produces. Nature always has something up her sleeve for you, and that’s what I like. I want to show landscapes in their visual perfection, something a lot of people don’t get to see.
As a hobby photographer, how much time and effort do you put into photography in your life?
That varies quite often. I want to put more time into it, but unfortunately it’s not always possible as I have other responsibilities. But I did quite a few trips already only for photography, like for example visiting the Lofoten islands (twice), or smaller ones which only involve driving a few hours from my home.
©Johny Goerend “Aerial view of Reine, unfortunately without snow. Still, the light just after sunrise made the whole landscape seem unrealistically beautiful.”
What are the biggest challenges that you face as a hobby photographer, compared to those professional photographers? Are there pros and cons?
If I was able to pull more time aside for photography, I know exactly how I could improve my photography or learn new things. Pro photographers have to do this, but they usually also can take the time because it’s their job. I still have to focus first on my daily job and my family, and photography will always come third. But then again, I would not like to have photography as my main job, because the pressure of having to take (good) photos in order to pay the bills would ruin my creativity.
Do you have any advice for those who want to be a hobby photographer?
Don’t focus on gear. Just don’t. You have a camera hat takes half decent pictures? That’s absolutely enough to get started, and there’s so much more that’s important than having the latest and greatest gear. The camera and lenses are just tools, nothing else. You don’t buy a new hammer or screwdriver every few months, do you?
Among your works, which one is your favorite? And why?
That’s changing every 2 – 3 years. And it should, because otherwise it would mean that I didn’t improve myself or didn’t try new things. And it’s never limited to just one photo, but there are always several. Currently I really like a very simple photo of a castle here in Luxembourg, which I took when there was a lot of fog around, and one of the black forest where you can only see trees, nothing else.
What inspires you to take pictures the way you do?
The challenge of capturing landscapes as beautiful as they are in real life. That’s really hard if the conditions are special, and it’s the photographers job to get this right. This challenge keeps inspiring, as well as, of course, nature itself.
Who’s your favorite photographer and why?
Thomas Heaton. Because he doesn’t let himself be distracted by all the main subjects which everyone else shoots, and he’s really sticking with it. He always tries to get some other result, and you may not even know where his photo was taken if he wouldn’t show it on YouTube.
What kind of camera / post-processing tools do you usually use?
As I said, I do not like to focus on gear. So let’s just say that I’m using a full frame camera, with a few lenses and some accessories. For my post-processing I usually use Capture One and, if a photo needs more detailed tweaking, Photoshop.
Where can we see your photographs?