Every year on March, 17 the Irish and the people of Irish descent in the world are celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. It is a religious and cultural festival that commemorates the anniversary of the death of the Irish patron St. Patrick. This day is especially for those Irish who live in the diaspora, a day full of longing for the Emerald Isle. The German photographer Holger Hess is feeding this longing with wonderful images. His portfolio includes lovely landscapes in postcard idyll style as well as rugged, windswept coasts, mystical long exposures of the Atlantic up to abandoned, deserted valleys, reminding us why so many Irish people had to turn their backs on their homeland. We did a short Q&A with Holger Hess on the occasion of St. Patrick’s Day about his yearning images.
Q: What drew you to the Ireland scenery as you´re not from the area?
A: My normal business is musician, I run a recording studio and play in a band. So it was the fascination for traditional Irish music that brought me to Ireland in 1997 for the first time. I was so amazed about the Irish, their music and their land- and seascapes that from this year on, I went to Ireland every year. A few years later for the first time with a good camera (that lies on the ground of the atlantic ocean meanwhile . . . ). I showed my pictures my family and friends and all of them were amazed. So I started doing even more and more landscape photography but my deep love to Ireland and my long list of Irish friends brings me back to this country again and again. I never had any lessons.
Q: How do you find the locations you want to capture?
A: Well. Leave the main roads, take your time, walk, wait, look out after great scenerys, be prepared for the unforeseen. I have learned, that doing one good image a day is much better than 20 bad ones. Sat-nav is very helpful. And whenever possible, wait for the Golden hour. When going to the seashore it is very heplful to know the tide-times.
Q: What´s so special about landscape photography in Ireland?
A: It’s that you find everything, lost places, seashores, mountains, waterfalls, lakes and amazing valleys and good pubs for afterwards in short distances. I think, because of that it is an island, the light and its reflections is very special. And you can have all 4 seasons in one day, as I already learned while leaving my umbrella in the car.
Q: What´s your workflow? All digital, any retouching?
A: My workflow is all digital meanwhile. I use what almost everybody uses: Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop. I think, there are some parts that belong together in getting a good photograph:
– Finding the spot
– Composing the picture
– and the editing process that is digital meanwhile. I do the normal processing things like adjusting the levels, sharpening and so on. And I always use RAW.
In the old days the photographers worked in their lightroom with several techniques, materials and chemicals and it took them hours to adjust all and everything. The digital processing is the equivalent nowadays.
Q: How do you offer edition prints to whom?
A: Selling prints is hard. There’s thousands of really good cracks outside that are on the same trip: Making some money out from their artwork. I started with my own shop on etsy.com and fineartamerica.com meanwhile. Every year I produce an Ireland calendar that sells very good online. Not to forget, exhibitions in galleries are very helpful. I do this as often as I get the opportunity. It happens than that people of Irish descent buy a print.
Q: Which Hahnemühle Digital FineArt paper do you print on and why?
A: I use Hahnemüle Photo Rag paper for some reasons: Take a sheet of this paper and you can feel the special quality, from the very first moment on you can feel that they know, what they do. It’s an old German company. It is Made in Germany. I like this. Meanwhile all my prints are made on Photo Rag. For me the paper with the best results, best structure, best colours.
Q: Who does the prints?
A: Short answer: German print service provider Whitewall.
For more on Holger Hess`Ireland photography click over www.facebook.com/holgerhessphoto