Roman calls Innsbruck in Austria, in the heart of the Alps, his home. He creates fantastic footage of mountain scenery and works for a wide range of outdoor brands. Besides, he has an impressive followership on social media where you instantly start daydreaming when looking at his shots which bring across a very special atmosphere. Read this exclusive interview with Roman to find out more about him.
PELI: Hi Roman! You are an adventure sports photographer, filmmaker and visual content creator. That sounds very exciting and versatile. What does a typical day in your week look like?
RK: There is no typical day. Now even less that a few months ago because I became a father recently. But usually there are two different kind of days. Days when I am outside creating or days when I am at home or in the office. When I'm outside often days start in the middle of the night. Because I want to be on time to shoot with the first light in the morning. Often that means hiking up a mountain to be there for sunrise. On days like that I am mostly at home again around noon. I'll get some proper food and backup my footage from that day. Maybe some rest in between and then I do a lot of office work (like emails, writing, thinking). When I have no shoot I start my day with some stretching and a little bit of exercise. I like to do something before breakfast. A cold shower is nice too. Afterwards I edit photos, cut a video or do other work on the computer. However, also on office days I need some fresh air in between. I try to make room for some outside activity. Now with my little son all that changed a bit of course and he is number one priority. So now I build everything around him. It is not easy sometimes but I can't say that I didn't know that beforehand... ;)
PELI: How did your journey of becoming a professional photographer start?
RK: I started photography as a hobby over 18 years ago. The first photos I ever took with an SLR camera were my friend's skate & snowboarding. It all grew from there. I did a lot of filming at that time too and it was all self-taught, learning by doing. I shot a ton of slides and sometimes I also went to the darkroom and developed my own black & white images. After doing an education in mechanical engineering, I had enough of it and switched over to design. I did a degree in motion design and loved to animate things, but never loved the time of sitting in front of that screen for hours. I'm an active guy, I have to move my body to keep the ideas flowing. I went back to the cameras professionally and basically went all in. I had some contacts in the board sport industry to start off, but the most important part for me were the projects I did in my spare time. The passion projects. I put them online and suddenly people started hiring me because of these. Later around 2015 I found Instagram and put my photos there too. I grew from there, people found me via Instagram and I got my first job offers.
PELI: You've explored many places reaching from the famous Hang En caves in Vietnam, surfing sessions on the Lofoten Islands to backcountry skiing tours on mountain ranges all around the globe. What is your favorite place or country for taking photos or filming?
RK: There is no favourite country. Because the cool thing is to see a new country and let yourself immerse into it. People and cultures are so different but in the end we all are a bit the same too. If we are just speaking of landscapes I undoubtedly have a love for mountains. My trip to Nepal and the Himalayas was definitely impressive. But I bet India or Pakistan where I haven't been to yet are also amazing. In contrast to the mountains I definitely have the same love for the ocean. Cold water or warm water doesn't matter, I feel comfortable in both. Shooting with a housing in the water is also one of the most rewarding things for me.
PELI: You are very active on Social Media and many people admire your pictures. What inspires you and what advice would you give someone who is seeking the same line of work?
RK: As Instagram became part of my work, I had to be active on there. But to be honest with you it is also a bit of a love/hate relationship. It has become an interactive online portfolio and a major part of my marketing. But there is an uneasy relationship with the app mostly because it is constantly in need of being fed new and stunning imagery.
I am inspired by so many things out there. Other photographers, nature, books I read, podcasts, artist from other fields, "normal" people who don't even have social media, my girlfriend and other friends, ... this list goes on and on.
It is hard to give advice. There is no right way to do this. There are a thousand ways. I guess the most important part is to stay true to yourself. Find something you would "die" for and do it. It is hard not to become an expert that way.
PELI: Your job brings you to places where weather is unpredictable and you are exposed to the elements. What is/are the biggest challenge/s when shooting in these places and have you experienced critical situations?
RK: When it gets really gnarly out there my first priority is not to get a shot of it. Yes, I have experienced critical situations in the mountains. The most important thing always is to come back home healthy. If "just" the weather is really bad often it is challenging to get photos. Big challenges are keeping your lens clean, keeping your gear working, keeping your fingers warm enough to be able to press the shutter.
I actually froze my fingers once so bad I couldn't feel them anymore for three months. Since that day I have real problems on cold days.
PELI: Looking back, what was the most exciting project you’ve been working on?
RK: I was once a DP for a documentary in West Africa. This was a learning experience for sure. An intense trip. We travelled from northern Morocco all the way down to Gambia. This experience definitely shaped me as a person. We could also surf great waves on this trip which added to this special experience.
PELI: How do you use Peli Products, what do you store in your case and what is your favorite feature?
RK: I wish I had a Peli Case on this trip to West Africa already. Having a dust proof cast for your gear was essential. I used a backpack and this was a bad choice. I learned my lesson though. Usually I store all my camera gear which I bring for a job in my Peli Case. That are two cameras and at least three lenses. Sometime a drone too.
Apart from being dust proof I love that it is water proof and does float too.