Inside this issue
Kristel Schneider is a full-time photographer with a passion for art and nature. Her work explores the patterns, textures, lights, and colours of nature. She is an intuitive artist with an eye for detail; she aims at creating intimate compositions
to evoke a certain feeling in the viewer through her personal use of natural light, her choice of weather elements and the rhythm of nature. Photography is more than just a passion, for her it is a way of creative living and the best way to express herself.
She grew up in the Netherlands and lived a big part of her adult life in Amsterdam. She studied human resources management and communication and had worked as a communication consultant for a pharmaceutical company before she decided to move to Auvergne, France, in 2007 to become a full-time photographer. Since 2009 she has worked as a full-time photographer and has carried out several private commissions and photo assignments. Her work can be found in various publications, magazines, and books. She is regularly invited to present her work at photo festivals throughout Europe. She published her first book, Variations in Trees, in December 2017. And in October 2023 she released her 2nd book RIVERSCAPE.
Head of Marketing & Sub Editor for On Landscape. Dabble in digital photography, open water swimmer, cooking buff & yogi.
I first chatted with Kristel back in 2018 when she launched her first book, VARIATIONS WITH TREES. What struck me was her dedication and her vision for her landscape photography. She said in the interview, "Photography is now more than just a passion for me; it's a way of living and the best way to express myself more creatively."
From doing many interviews, I know the painstaking hours that must be spent researching subjects, being out in the landscape in all weathers with the camera, post processing and compiling photographs for the book. Her way of life has obviously enabled her to creatively tell the intimate story of "The River Allier" (The lifeblood of the Auvergne landscape, stretching 425 km from South to North in the heart of France).
She has collaborated with the pianist Fabrizio Paterlini, who wrote an album inspired by the images and ideas from Kristel's book (to be released soon!). A great example of how music and photographs can work together to create great pieces of creative output.
Would you like to start by telling readers a little about yourself – where you grew up, what your early interests were, and what you went on to do?
I spent my childhood in the Netherlands, close to the serene forests and white dunes. Although the area was beautiful, I didn't always appreciate the natural wonders around me, especially as my friends would often go to the beach while my family took us on vacation in the Italian Dolomites. My father loved long hikes, and so we spent our holidays at higher altitudes, carrying enough supplies in our backpacks for whole-day treks. On weekends and after school, I often found myself on the tennis courts. This changed rapidly when I moved to Amsterdam and started a career in the corporate world. It made me travel a lot, professionally and privately. My passion for photography started in Asia, where I fell in love with the cultures and captured intimate scenes of locals and their colourful surroundings.
Eventually, I moved to Auvergne, in central France, where I was able to reconnect with the mountains and forests that had captivated me during my youth. It was then that I truly realised just how precious those memories and experiences were from my childhood.
At what point did photography become more than a hobby? Did anything in particular prompt this?
My fortieth year proved to be a turning point in my life. I was on the verge of burning out, so I decided to step off the corporate treadmill to focus on my photography.
Although I am primarily self-taught in photography, I enrolled in various masterclasses and evening courses at the Amsterdam Photo Academy. After moving to France, I made photography my primary focus and started organising my own workshops. My client base quickly expanded beyond France to the UK, Belgium, the Netherlands, and even the USA. Soon, I received my first assignments and joined Nordic Vision Fotoreizen, the Dutch photo travel company. At that time and still now, I am the only woman among a team of eleven photographers (https://fotoreizen.net/team). Gender inequality is still quite common in the (nature) photography industry. However, I am pleased to see more women entering the professional world, although progress remains slow in all aspects. Photography has become my creative way of life, and although my income is much lower, I have no regrets about the decision to turn my life around.
You worked as a communication consultant for a pharmaceutical company before you moved to being a full-time landscape photographer. How did you manage the transition?
I consider myself fortunate that my employer allowed me to work independently during a transition period to finalise my projects in France. This gradual approach allowed me to gradually say farewell to the corporate world and welcome my new life. When my contract ended, I had a brief moment of doubt, wondering if I had made the right choice. However, as I focused more on my photography, my concerns faded away, and I was able to embrace a new way of living, one that was more creative and fulfilling.