Axel Hildebrandt carved out a niche taking photographs of birds in flight during the last 6 years. Interested about different rare species, the wildlife photographer reveals inspiring secrets needed to capture memorable aspects of birds’ lives in their natural environment. The photographer approaches a wide range of birds, such as oystercatchers, eagles, egrets, common terns, razorbills or snowy owls with a spectacular attention to details. We had the privilege to obtain a fantastic interview with Axel and to share with you a thrilling collection of rare bird pictures.
Tell us something about Axel Hildebrandt Photography?
I started photographing relatively early with a B/W film camera in East Germany but did not seriously begin to get into wildlife photography before I moved from Germany to the U.S. in the late 1990s. I lived near a wetland area in Western Massachusetts and was surrounded by wildlife, mainly birds I was not familiar with. After getting a digital SLR camera and long lenses, bird photography became a passion of mine and I have been taking pictures of birds ever since in many places and I go through a lot of effort to find new places and sometime rare species, including pelagic trips.
What’s your creative process like?
I aspire to take images that are clean and elegant but not sterile. This is why I always make an effort to find something that is out of the ordinary and keeps my attention. I prefer natural light and attempt to create images that show the subject and whenever possible the habitat as well.
Where do you find inspiration and why do you like photography?
I find inspiration in natural beauty, unusual light and enjoy sharing the images of birds, not at least to bring attention to conservation issues. Photography of birds in flight can be quite challenging but it is very rewarding to be able to capture interesting poses and behaviors.
Photography in general is the perfect way for me to relax in the outdoors, to be in the moment and to have memorable experiences.
What are some tips you could give to people that really like your work?
People who enjoy my work should know that it takes a lot of time and effort and sometimes many attempts until I make the image that I have envisioned in my imagination. It is quite important to learn as much about the behavior of the species one wants to photograph in order not to disturb them more than necessary. Another challenge is to learn as much as possible about exposure and post-processing.
I would encourage wildlife photographers to learn how to handhold their gear. I photograph almost exclusively handheld to be able to react quickly to changes and I have developed a technique that allows me to handhold heavy lenses for hours without too much strain. There are many images that I could not have taken otherwise.
Can you name some great photographer that inspires you and why?
I like the work of wildlife photographers who try something new and creative. For that reason I look at many images posted on forums and websites. I find it astonishing how many creative photographers there are and there are several people whose approach is very original, for example my friends Fabs and Alfred Forns and photographers who have an extensive knowledge of their subjects, such as Christopher Dodds but there are too many to name.
If you have something else to add just tell us.
I often take images of shorebirds because I love being at the ocean. In a few weeks I am going to photograph raptors during their fall migration at a nearby mountain range in Eastern Pennsylvania.
Dear Mr. Axel Hildebrandt, we would like to thank you for your time invested into this article. For us is a great plus to have you featured on the website, to learn from your knowledge and to share this lightning selection of bird pictures with many photography fans. Good luck with the future trips, and don't hesitate to contact us when you will launch your first book.