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Today’s guest at Pixinfocus is Chris Eyre-Walker. I’ve been following Chris’ work since 2016 and I’ve been inspired by his travel and adventure photos ever since.
Chris-Eyre Walker is a photographer and filmmaker from Belgium. His work as travel and adventure photographer and Olympus Ambassador has led him to travel and explore some of the most amazing places on Earth. I had the pleasure to meet Chris when he came to Australia to present his movie “Dreamwalkers”. In this interview we talk about Photography, Filmmaking and some other very important topics.
Hi Chris, tell us a bit more about yourself. How long have you been taking photos and what got you started?
Well, I’m a 29 year old adventure and travel photographer that has been shifting to more and more video work over the last 2-3 years.
I first picked up a camera when I was travelling with my parents as a kid. I always enjoyed taking photos, but never really saw it as something I’d do in the future. At 18 I joined the Belgian army and was looking for a hobby that would take my thoughts away from the job. So I bought my first DSLR back then, set it to Manual mode and spent the weekends learning about it and shooting all kinds of things.
The travel bug really never left me and I soon left the army to go travelling around the world with my best friend. I think it was then that I figured that photography might be a good job to make travelling possible. To me, it never really was about photography itself. Photography has always only been the tool that made other things possible: adventures, travels and other challenges.
Whenever I find myself a little discouraged or uninspired I have to remind myself of that. It doesn’t matter what others are doing. It’s about what I want to do and how I can get photography or filmmaking to help me achieve those things.
You successfully integrated videos and filmmaking into your work and you recently visited Australia to follow the airing of “Dreamwalkers”, your film presented at the Mountain Film Festival. Tell us a bit about the movie, how it was born?
The idea for Dreamwalkers was born in Belgium on a sunny November afternoon.
I had bumped into David, one of the four guys, a few months earlier in Cuba and he told me about his passion for highlining and how he and his friend went to this spot called Freyr in Belgium to do it. I knew the place from my army days. One of Belgium’s only proper rock climbing places.
So we met up on that November weekend to take some photos. We had an amazing weekend, camped out, drank some of the local beers and before I knew it David and Yuri were telling me about how the four of them wanted to go and be the first to highline the Faroe Islands.
I had just spent two weeks in the Faroe Islands myself earlier that year. The idea of taking their hobby to the Faroe Islands was incredible. I knew there was a story to be told right there. So I convinced myself (and some sponsors) that going to one of the windiest places on earth to tell a story about some guys doing something crazy for the first time was going to be a good film…
Seven months later we were filming it.
What is the advice you can give to photographers that would like to start making videos?
Photographers usually take a great eye to cinematography. They understand composition, contrast and light. I usually find that good photographers make good cinematographers. But my number one advice would be to learn how to tell stories.
Understanding how a story is put together and how the motion of a camera can be used to enhance a story is the big difference between photography and video.
So my advice would be: think of a story first, then think about how you can use your camera knowledge to make that story come to life. It will make the complicated task of editing it all together so much easier.
You’re an Olympus Visionary (Ambassador) can you explain what it is to be a brand ambassador and how it impacts your work as a photographer?
First of all, most people think it’s a huge deal to be associated to a brand or company. So much so, that all they aim to do is become an ambassador for a brand, no matter what or why the brand should work with them. I always say: become really good at what you do. Then brands will come to you.
It’s not as big a deal as it might seem. For me it means I have the support and occasionally, financial help towards projects. Olympus believes in my vision and sees the benefit for their brand in working with me. I always try to keep it this way and avoid trying to be dependent on a brand.
Obviously I try to come up with projects that suit their product. It’s a two-way relationship.
But if a project I come up with doesn’t suit their product. i.e. a drone project… Olympus doesn’t make drones. Then I won’t necessarily get them involved.
I’m pretty sure that people would be interested in knowing about your gear, what’s in your camera bag and what is your favorite lens?
That’s a tough one. My bag keeps changing and evolving.
These days I shoot with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II and OM-D E-M1X and the range of PRO lenses. My favourite lens has got to be the 12-100mm f/4 IS PRO lens. It’s an amazing travel lens, expedition lens, video lens… it’s one of those lenses that really covers all the bases exceptionally well. Second favourite is the 17mm f/1.2 PRO lens. Just perfect for street, portrait and documentary work.
Recently I bought a BlackMagic URSA Mini Pro 4.6k too. But that’s obviously exclusively for video work. Depending on the project I will still use the Olympus cameras for video work too. Can’t beat a small portable system.
What is your post production workflow when it comes to edit your photos and how it’s important to you?
As much as I love being outdoor and creating with my cameras. I also like a solid post production workflow. I use a mix of programs to speed up and save time on the computer.
My favourite program is Photo Mechanic. It helps me add a ton of extra information to my photos and going through 1000s of photos in no time to make selects. I’ll then bring all photos into my Lightroom Catalog from where I filter to the selects I’ve made in Photo Mechanic and then proceed to processing my work in Lightroom.
I love the ability to create collections and collection sets in Lightroom. It keeps me organised without having to duplicate original files.
I also always recommend a solid backup workflow. But that’s an entire chapter on its own.
Social media. What it means for photographers today? And how impactful it has been for your career?
Aaaah Social Media. These days I’m not a big fan of it to be honest. It has skewed the way we see the world, ourselves, our lives and our work. Mostly for the worse…
I do see the benefits and try to use it for that. Communicating and networking with like minded creatives.
Obviously, it’s a great way to showcase your work. But I don’t really think it’s a way to be noticed these days. Everyone is shouting for attention and nobody is listening.
So when it comes to having an impact on my career, I’d like to think of the projects and work I’ve done that were outside of the social media world. First of all they were done out of my own, un-influences, passion for the projects, secondly, they are 100% original and mine. Couldn’t be more proud of that work. And it’s the kind of work I’ll remember in the years to come, no matter how well it did on social media.
We’re curious to know what inspires you when you take photos. Is there a photographer or an artist that influenced your style?
My inspiration lies in the challenge. How challenging is a project or photo. How much effort will I have to put into creating something. The more challenged I am, the more inspired I get to give it a go.
Obviously I’ve been influenced by the people I look up to. I think all our inspiration and ideas come from what we see, feel, hear, smell around us. The more intense that experience, the more it inspires us. Which is one of the reasons I avoid social media for inspiration… it offers close to no experience.
But being out with friends, going to the cinema, looking at art, books, being in nature.
Those are the moments I find most inspiring.
You’ve been traveling around the world for a while as a photographer and filmmaker. What is it about adventure and travel photography that’s fascinating to you?
Like I mentioned earlier. My intention is always to travel and experience new things and challenge myself. Photography and filmmaking is the excuse to do those things.
But if there’s something I enjoy, that is when my work can inspire others to go out and go on their own adventure. And I try for my work to reflect that. People enjoying, experiencing and challenging themselves in nature. The wilder the adventure, the better.
What is the place that you consider special to you?
Over the years I’ve grown very fond of the Faroe Islands. I’ve returned many times and go to know many people there. Especially after our most recent trip in January, where we were making a documentary about the impact of tourism we spoke to many many locals. It gave me a much better insight and understanding to the culture and people there.
Then there’s the incredible landscape. It’s a place that makes me feel like an explorer whenever I step out of the house. You can’t beat that feeling.
Last question Chris. Can you reveal to us something about your future projects and goals for 2019?
2019 is a year of change for me. After 6 years of travel I’ve gone back to my roots and settled down. I bought a small, wooden house and I’m building out my production studio in Belgium, right where I grew up.
It’s a nice balance between being ‘home’ and finally having a place to plan real adventures and expeditions and plotting the stories I want to tell.
The focus is to tell more meaningful stories this year. Get away from pointless, empty social media and go out and tell the stories that matter and hopefully have impact and can bring change to peoples minds and lives.
I’ve got projects in the Africa, Faroe Islands, Norway, Sweden, Afghanistan and Tajikistan this year… too many to talk about really. You gotta wait and see.
Chris thank you so much for answering all my questions. It was a big pleasure and honor for me to do this interview and we all look forward to keep exploring the world through your lenses.
If you want to experience amazing adventures and learn photography in some of the most beautiful places in the world take a look at Chris Eyre-Walker’s workshops