2020 started very normally for me - as probably for most others as well. I gave a lot of snow sports lessons, enjoyed the black ice on our lakes in mid-January, stopped by the speed skating competitions of the Olympic Youth Games in St. Moritz a few times, and in February I volunteered for a "Protect our Winters Switzerland" campaign (more on that here).
When the uncertainty about COVID-19 rose here in Switzerland in March, I, of course, had no idea what that would do with photography. Especially not what it would do with my outdoor / adventure and event photography. Inevitably, some projects that I had been looking forward got cancelled in the following.
Now, at the end of the year, I still don't know anything about the long-term effects, but I still had a year that was sometimes very intense and instructive.
In June I had the unbelievably great opportunity to work on the "Photography in Motion" campaign for the new X-T4 together with Fujifilm Switzerland. This project was initially planned for March and I don't even remember how often we had to re-plan everything... In the end, it turned out to be two incredibly labour-intensive, but perfect summer days in and next to the water in Ticino with a great team.
Here you can find a little camera review. In the meantime, the Fujifilm X-T4 has become a loyal companion for me.
Talents: Anna Unternährer and Kevin Bickel
Then I had the opportunity to photograph two of the very first sporting events that could take place in Europe again, and I could almost have been to a third one if there wouldn't have been a time overlap.
I was able to photograph the Engadin Bike Giro in July for the fifth time. The weather was very nice on the first day, very bad on the second and very nice again on the third. As with many others, the lockdown in spring had the effect that I did a lot more sport than usual and I felt accordingly fit at the event. The actual race went almost as every year and of course, the atmosphere was great as everyone was finally able to do their favourite activity again. Over the weekend I realized how important my hearing is for taking photos... That might sound a bit weird, but it's very easy to explain. Often at such an event, I lie behind a bush or a rock, have already determined my image composition in the camera and can only know when the next rider will appear based on the sounds.
The picture gallery of the Engadin Bike Giro is here.
A selection of pictures of the 3 days event. Masks were mandatory at the start/finish area, there were no prize givings and the starter field was much less international than usually.
Two weeks later, a premiere followed for me, the Ötillö Swimrun Engadin. What was special for me was how much equipment I had to have with me: two cameras with different lenses (because you never have time to change lenses at an event like this, and also as a backup in case something breaks), one camera that stayed in the above mentioned underwater housing all day and a drone. My backpack, including water, food and spare clothes, etc. weighed a good 12 kg... I was on an e-bike these two days, which I now clearly prefer over a car for many occasions because it is often less complicated and faster. Although I'm by no means new to photographing sporting events, I learned a lot over this weekend.
First, that swimrun, as the race director Michael Lemmel had warned us, is an incredibly fast sport, so much faster than I could have imagined.
Second, a lot about me and my photography. Photographing sports events is incredibly stressful, you have to be very fast, you want to be everywhere at the same time, you have to constantly make decisions, evaluate plans and draft new ones, you are under a high level of nervous tension, unwind kilometre after kilometre as quickly as possible, and you feel the (sometimes relentless) weather like the athletes and still have to keep your photo equipment in good shape in adverse conditions. You have to remember yourself to eat and drink because forgetting it would be just as bad for your own performance as for that of any athlete. And although all of this sounds pretty fulfilling together, your main task is to stay creative.
Once again I noticed how incredibly much I like such “fast-paced” things, what flow I can experience with them, and that I can't think of anything better than to train (photography- and sports-wise) and to carefully watch my diet and sleep to perform at my best on day X. Just like an athlete! Yes, I would even say that I have found my “competitive sport”: To photograph outdoor sports events!
Here you can find the Ötillö Swimrun Engadin gallery.
A selection of pictures of the Engadin Swimrun 2020. Some athletes didn't know until the very last moment whether they would be able to join or not, as e.g. Sweden (where many participants come from) was on the quarantine list until one or two days before the competition.
In addition to these major commitments, I also photographed some editorial assignments and corporate publishing things for various newspapers, Red Bull and Engadin Mountains, which even took me twice to (very close) abroad.
Mountain biking with Jolanda Neff and Wendy Holdener for Engadin Mountains on Corviglia (Agency: Ferris Bühler Communications).
As we all know, the second wave in autumn immediately led to new major restrictions, especially in the area of sports. This does not mean that only events are cancelled (or not planned at all), magazines also had to cut significantly in some cases and are now making fewer editions or are only available online and many brands have become more cautious and economical in advertising.
So I immediately looked for alternatives and started working as a fitness instructor and in a sports shop with an attached cross-country skiing school. I am very happy to have these opportunities and hope that my photo equipment does not collect too much dust and that it will be used again soon and often in the New Year! I already have some ideas...
Many thanks to all clients and partners who made the year possible despite all the difficulties!