An Interview with Photographer Max Muench
Originally published on PassionPassport.com on March 19, 2018
Max Muench’s beautiful, yet moody, photography always evoked my purest sense of wanderlust. His photos seem to capture something hidden in the subject matter — whether that be an elusive feeling, a remote location, or a fleeting moment.
I reached out to him to learn more about his work and how he travels, and his answers didn’t disappoint.
How did you become a photographer?
I received my first analog camera as a gift when I was a child. Since then, photography has been a part of my daily life, but I started taking it more seriously when I discovered Instagram about four years ago.
Back then, I only had the camera on my smartphone and I realized that good photography does not depend on expensive gear. I bought a DSLR later on, but I still shoot with my smartphone sometimes. I started traveling and doing smaller jobs for various companies; now I visit between two and four countries per month to work with global brands, tourism boards, and well-known companies.
How would you describe your photographic style?
Back in 2015, a group of German photographers who liked to take landscape photos founded the “German Roamers” collective (@germanroamers) to highlight what the country has to offer in terms of nature and adventure, and show that you don’t always need to travel far to discover amazing places. I was in that group, and we all developed a moody style of photography because we preferred to go on photo trips in the rain, fog, or snow. In short: we liked to go out when no one else was around.
Therefore, our images are a bit darker and often feature a small person in a huge surrounding. We wanted to show how majestic nature is and that humans are only a small part of a greater whole — and that they should behave as such to save their environment. This is also how I would describe my personal style.
When traveling, how do you capture each place you visit?
I try to see every place with new eyes, without any prejudices or comparisons. Being open-minded is an ability that people tend to lose the longer they live, but I always want to be like a child who sees a balloon flying for the very first time.
What techniques do you use to bring a fresh perspective to each shot?
Besides involving new technologies like drones, 360 cameras, or the latest gear, it is always good to try to limit yourself to a certain lens or piece of equipment. You don’t need to capture everything, detail, far distance shot, or close-up. Sometimes it helps to use only one fixed lens to practice taking a certain shot. When you do this, you are forced to go closer or to step back a little, to climb or to lay down in order to find the best frame.
How have drones impacted your photography?
Quite a lot — drones give me the opportunity to find new angles, explore fresh perspectives, and leave my point of view behind to see old places in a new lightway. These days, I always have a drone in my backpack.
How much editing goes into your photos after you take them?
Sometimes good photos don’t require hours of editing. But, of course, editing helps you develop your own style of photography and often gives your images a signature look. I still try to keep my editing as minimal as possible, since I always prefer to show a place how it actually is.
What kind of reactions do you hope your photos evoke?
I love when people say, “I want to go there right now.”
I would like to see people start traveling in their mind, to gain their own experiences and learn more about the different cultures, landscapes, and people around the world. I love listening to other people’s stories when they come back from a journey, and I also like to tell stories with my pictures — to inspire and share my view on the world. When people can forget the daily hustle and bustle for just a second, I’ve already reached my goal.
What have you learned about yourself through photography?
When I say I am going to do something that seems difficult, I can actually do it.. It often requires patience, knowledge, and practice, but if you stop learning every day and stop trying to better yourself and your work, you’ll get stuck on the couch. Photography has taken me to incredible places and taught me so much about myself and the culture I’m living in.
When I traveled to Tanzania and explored the southern part of the country, I met so many wonderful people who gave everything they had and didn’t expect anything in return. The same happened to me in Mongolia and Nepal. The boundless hospitality and warm-hearted reactions remain in my memory and constantly remind me about what is lost in our modern society: patience, gratefulness, empathy, and the ability to share.