Mountain photographer and friend of Jöttnar, Daniel Wildey, examines the overlap between a lifetime’s love of wild places and an artist’s eye for colour, shape and form.
Why climb mountains? That’s a tough one. I was asked why I photograph mountains, and maybe the same answer applies to both questions. To conquer giants or to capture giants?
Artistically and elementally, there are no better colours and shapes than those found on a jagged summit ridge, a sandstone tower or a meadow of alpine wildflowers. No better interplay of light and shadow than when the peaks cast their forms far down into the valleys or when rock catches fire at sunset. No better sense of bewildering scale than the tiny piton holding lives above the chasm.
But photography is best when it captures and evokes emotion. From tranquil solitude to tempests and terror, the mountains provide a varied diet of soul food for a healthy mind. Some climb to test their limits, to understand their own reactions to fear, isolation, beauty, adrenaline, autonomy and vulnerability. After years of discovering my own limitations I really began to notice adventure photography and it was this self-awareness that heightened my reactions – the realisation that the limits of others are way beyond my own. This makes an image inspirational.
This is only part of the story. I love mountains. If you’re reading this I imagine you do too. Climbing – in rock boots or hiking boots, crampons or skis – can be a way of involving yourself with beauty and nature and getting intimate with the landscape. Photography can be the same, but maybe it’s also an attempt to hang on to that intimacy for a later date. For me it’s an attempt to share that intimacy.
Whether I’m capturing adrenaline, wonder or pure beauty, for commercial reasons or not, I think my unconscious aim is always to evoke desire: Desire to be there, to have what it takes to get there, or even to own the gear to enable you to get there. I guess this is why you should always photograph things you love.