My photo treasures: Olivier Föllmi

I have a special relationship with one particular photograph by Olivier Föllmi (photograph "00150" on, the first image from the left in the second row*). It was one of two photographs that decorated the wall in my girlfriend's room when we first met and later in our first apartment. Although this photograph is not really representative of Olivier Föllmi's work, it is one of my most preferred mountainscapes. Every time I look at it, I am amazed at how the light radiates from behind and below the hillside, as if it was emanating from earth's center.
Olivier Föllmi has become well-known for his photographs from the Ladakh, Tibet and Himalaya, which not only show the beauty of nature, but first and foremost depict the beauty and unity of human beings and their environment. For me, Olivier Föllmi's photographs convey a harmonic and almost spiritual quality that I think must stem from a deep appreciation of human beings and their lives. Although these portraits of mankind seem completely natural and spontaneous, the photographs are very carefully planned. Olivier Föllmi obtains the vision for his photographs by sensibly observing his environment and then tries to create the scene accordingly. It is a very deliberate and conscious image taking process that reminds me of studio photography except that the studio is the whole world and the models are "normal" people and everyday life. With this approach, Olivier Föllmi creates perfectly composed and framed photographs (without any thorns) that do not look artificial but rather capture spontaneity and lightness, which I admire. This interesting and unique approach to photography can be much better appreciated by reading the little book Conseils d'un photographe voyageur (the book seems unavailable directly from, but is in stock at or by watching the documentary below (this is only the first of three parts, but the second and third part are also worth watching; both the book and documentary are in French but the photographs should be accessible to all languages).

It is of course negligent to limit the work of Olivier Föllmi geographically, since his long list of publications reveals that the globe is really his studio. And last but not least, Olivier Föllmi's dedication and compassion for human beings is also documented by the foundation of the Human Organisation for People and Education (HOPE) by himself and Danielle Föllmi.

*As a matter of principle I show photographs from other photographers than myself only if I have received the explicit permission from the artist. Unfortunately, I have not obtained a reply from Mr. Föllmi and therefore I cannot show his beautiful photograph (I would have linked to the photograph directly, but this seems not possible). But please have a look at his webpage; there are plenty of photographs worth looking at.

2011/11/16 by Unknown
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