Having a keen sense of perfection is one of the keys to truly successful photography. For talented landscape photographer, Fabio Antenore, this drive to capture enchanting moments has resulted in the development of a unique and captivating style that has plunged him headfirst into the world of hyperrealistic art.
Although he is based in Switzerland, Fabio spends much of his time travelling around the world to satisfy his desire for exploration. His aim is to share the beauty of nature with those around him, to remind them that there is something else besides the mundanity of everyday life.
This week, we had the opportunity to chat with Fabio about how he got started in his photography career, his signature hyperrealistic photography style, as well as the challenges that inspire him to stay motivated in reaching new heights with his creativity.
Fabio Antenore is a landscape photographer based in Zürich, Switzerland.
Hello Fabio! Thank you for joining us today. Can you start by telling us a little bit about yourself? How did you get your start in photography? Was it always landscape work or have you been involved in any other genres beforehand?
I started in 2013, I guess. I bought my first camera to shoot behind-the-scenes pictures on a music video for a singer whom I produced. In the first part of my life, I was a music producer and audio engineer. I worked many years as a live engineer (mixing concerts) and I was the founder as well as the main engineer of a music studio corporation in Switzerland.
It was never my plan to change my profession because until then, I lived my dream. I loved my job. The only “problem” was that I was not the “most talented”. Of course, I did an ok job but everything was a fight for me. I saw other producers around me and they just made everything look easy, with no hard work. I worked so hard to reach the same level, but I never reached the top level.
Purple Sky. Photo by: 'Fabio Antenore'.
Photography for me was “love at first sight”. It was the first time in my life that I felt the power of “talent”. Now, I was the guy who could do it without having a hard time! Everything was just easy for me. And very soon, I was using all of my free time to take pictures.
I guess my advantage was that it was normal for me as an audio engineer to work with software. It was clear that after shooting, the process is still not done. So I started to create my own editing techniques. Six years ago, I was the only one in the whole German-speaking area who worked with time-blends and other post processing techniques that I created. So I created this style I called “Hyperreal Landscape Photography”. This designation was my vantage and it makes me proud to see how many people now use this.
After a short time, people began to ask me if I would run some workshops because they wanted to learn my style. In 2015, I started to run my first workshops. At the beginning, it was just like a hobby but since the middle of 2017, I changed my whole life and started to work as a full-time professional photographer and photography teacher.
A Dream Come True. Photo by: 'Fabio Antenore'.
My first picture which was printed in a magazine was not a landscape picture. It was a levitation composition with a girl flying in a lost place. So, no. It was not only landscape in the beginning but I changed really soon after to shoot almost only landscapes.
Do you prefer to photograph close to home or do you find faraway places more inspiring? Are there any special places that inspire you the most to create new work?
I prefer to shoot in places all around the world. In my opinion, it is really boring to always shoot in the same area. Of course, there are places which I have visited several times, like Iceland, which I have visited around 15 times in the past years. Or also many spots in the Dolomites, Spain and of course, in Switzerland. But I do that mainly because I run workshops in this areas.
I always need new places to feel inspired. I love to visit an area which I have never seen before. The best thing is to do that with some local photographers. In that way, I also see the whole country from another point of view, rather than just being a normal tourist.
But if I have to pick some countries or areas which I have loved the most until now, they would be Indonesia, Iceland, Mexico and the US west coast or the Dolomites.
Fabio is inspired by new places. Photo by: 'Fabio Antenore'.
You have an incredible portfolio of fine art photography. Can you describe for our readers how fine art differs from other fields of photography and what it is that makes your work unique in this sense?
Thank you. I guess the most different thing if you compare fine art to, for example, nature photography, is that in fine art we try to create art. It is all about the composition, the colours, the sharpness and the “feeling” of the picture. In nature photography, they “just” try to catch the right moment. They mostly use single shots because it is more important to have it as natural as possible... more like a documentary.
In fine art, we also use more post processing to make the picture as perfect as possible. So if there is something in the picture which we don't want to see, we just clone-stamp it out of the picture. Sometimes, we also use different exposures to have everything perfectly exposed.
Sometimes, I will use more than five different exposures with different shutter speeds, apertures, and ISOs. If necessary, I will shoot at different times of the day to create the perfect picture with time-blending. It's a more creative way of doing photography and it's all about perfection.
A Night at Bromo. Photo by: 'Fabio Antenore'.
In terms of post-production, what programs do you use to create your art and what is your aim with the final result?
I always start in Lightroom to develop the picture. Then I go to Photoshop. In Photoshop, I use plugins from the Nik Collection by DxO to work on contrasts and colours. And of course, my AF-Panel to create luminosity masks and Orton effects. You can download it for free on my website.
Fabio uses the plugin by Nik Collection to post-process his images. Photo by: 'Fabio Antenore'.
Which part of the creative process do you enjoy most and what do you find most challenging?
I love every part of it. Maybe the planning part is the part which I like the least, but the rest is all cool. I love to be in the field and shoot but I also love the editing part.
The most challenging thing is to shoot some of the “famous” spots and try to make them look different than other people's pictures.
It can be challenging to photograph well-known places and to give them your own unique take. Photo by: 'Fabio Antenore'.
Have there been times that you’ve had to revisit your favourite places many times to achieve the required result? Can you tell us more about your method of working?
Of course. There are some spots which I have had to revisit several times to get the “perfect” shot. For example, Lago Limides in the Dolomites. I think I visited this place five or six times until I had everything the way I wanted it. On three occasions, I was there and there was no lake because the lake doesn't always have water in it. There were also several times when there was bad weather and light. You can plan everything as perfectly as you want to but if Mother Nature has another plan, then you can do nothing about it.
This February, I was in Mexico and I spent three days at an elevation of 4000 metres to shoot the Popocatépetl volcano during an eruption but there was just nothing. The day after, I was back at home and I saw on the Internet that there had been a big eruption. Sometimes, we are just not that lucky... but now I have a reason to revisit Mexico.. ;-)
Skogafoss, Iceland. Photo by: 'Fabio Antenore'.
In terms of my work, I do not really have a method. I just save all the spots that I want to visit in an app on my phone, as well as by placing a marker on Google Maps. There are more than 1000 locations now on that list! But I really do just do it spontaneously. Sometimes, I decide just a couple of days beforehand where exactly it is that I want to go. Then I book the flight and I just go.
Devil's Rock. Photo by: 'Fabio Antenore'.
What do you want to achieve with your photography? Of your images, which one would you say best exemplifies that goal as a whole? How does it do that?
Oh damn, this is not an easy question to answer. What do I want to achieve? Hmm... I just want to create art. Until now, my goal has been to communicate my feelings or the feelings which a beautiful place in nature can trigger in me, into my photography. I want to show the beauty of our planet and bring that to people who are not able to visit these spots in real life.
The Fall. Photo by: 'Fabio Antenore'.
I just want to amaze people with my work and let them forget their normal lives for a moment – just to let them dream. Many people have never visited the real nature; they just work and work and work. I want to show them how beautiful our planet can be!
These days, I think often about bringing everything to the next level. I guess I have no examples for how I would achieve that.
Fabio's aim with his photography is for people to forget about their lives for a moment and just to dream. Photo by: 'Fabio Antenore'.
What challenges you most these days with shooting? From the world of photography, what keeps you motivated or inspired?
I guess the most challenging thing is to find spots which have not been photographed already by millions of other photographers, as well as to reach new and inspiring spots. The longer you are into landscape photography, the more spots you have already shot. This means that you always have to travel longer distances to reach new places.
For me, this is also part of the motivation – to find new locations for photography and to travel the world.
Fabio is motivated by the desire to find new locations for photography and to travel the world. Photo by: 'Fabio Antenore'.
For photographers who are trying to get their work seen and to establish a portfolio, what advice would you give?
Just try to find your own style. don't copy the compositions or styles of other photographers.
It is good to learn from others but there are so many photographers out there who just copy other people. If you do that, you will never be a unique artist. To be successful, you need to have something which sets you apart from the rest.
Like a Devil. Photo by: 'Fabio Antenore'.
What are your biggest marketing tools and how did you harness them to create a successful photography business?
The social media channels. It was never my plan to do this – it just happened. I guess I have just done the right thing at the right time.
Back in 2015, there were not many other photographers who worked in my style, especially in the German area. So it was easy to get "famous" and once the people know you and your work, you just have to use that for your business.
Mont St Michel. Photo by: 'Fabio Antenore'.
You have a number of video tutorials available on your website in both the English and German language. Can you tell us more about these? Who are they targeted at and what can people expect to learn from investing in your videos?
They are about different things. Some are about working with filters, others are about how to shoot seascapes (exposure time and composition). I have some about stacking and some about night photography, such as photographing the Milky Way, time-blending and panorama photography. I just demonstrate how I work and try to teach my techniques.
I always start with background information, such as technical details. Then there is an on-location section in which I show how I shot the pictures in-field. After that, I demonstrate how I edit them in Lightroom and Photoshop with the Nik Collection by DxO plugins. I also show how I use my AF-Panel to create luminosity masks and how I use them for dodging and burning in order to add more contrasts and to fix the colours.
Northern Lights at Kvernufoss. Photo by: 'Fabio Antenore'.
You run a number of photography workshops to Switzerland. What makes your tours unique? What kinds of locations can people visit when they join you on a tour?
In Switzerland, I go with clients to some of my favourite spots in my home country, such as Lago di Saoeso or the area around Zermatt (Matterhorn, or how some tourists like to call it, "Mount Toblerone"). I always try to make a mix of showing all of these amazing spots in combination with my techniques and how they can take the best pictures, depending on their level of photography.
My goal is always to have happy people who have a good time. I help them to bring breathtaking pictures back home from the tour. I also include some editing classes during the workshops because I think this is really important.
Post processing is an important part of photography. Photo by: 'Fabio Antenore'.
A good picture needs 30% planning, 30% photography skills and 30% editing. Plus 10% luck… Mother Nature always has the last word!
I guess this is exactly why they are unique. There are many other photo guides. Some of them are great guides and nice people but not the best photographers. Some are good photographers but maybe they are not good guides. Some are not good in editing and some just run tours with clients to have their own travel paid. I try to do my best to make everything as perfect as possible for the clients, like you guys from Iceland Photo Tours are doing it!
One More Time. Photo by: 'Fabio Antenore'.
In this day and age, the preservation of the environment is becoming a bigger concern. As photography is an influential medium, do you use the power of your photographs to promote conservation and environmental awareness? Do you have any thoughts about how photographers in general can become more involved in this important matter?
Sure. I always try to do my best to "save the planet". When I am in nature with my clients, I try to show them how to behave in nature so as not to destroy it. I also often try to talk about this on my social media channels. To be honest though, I know it is a two-bladed sword. I show people the beauty of our planet and I hope they will love it and try to take more care of our planet. However, I also know that even more people will then want to visit these places and many of them just don't care about the footprint that they leave in nature. They leave garbage around, drive cars off-road destroying the environment and so on. So I guess we are, on one hand, part of the problem. On the other hand, we can try to change people's minds and how they behave.
Protecting the environment is an important part of landscape photography. Photo by: 'Fabio Antenore'.
One of the most important things for me is to save the animals. I have some plans for a big campaign against poaching. But until now, it has just been an idea that I have had in my mind. First, I need some organisations or sponsors to help me to fulfil this vision of a campaign. If someone is interested in helping me, then just write me an email! I am also open to helping organisations (for free) if they have some good ideas.
Patriarchs. Photo by: 'Fabio Antenore'.
What sorts of things do you think might challenge you in the future or do you have any photographs or styles that you want to investigate? Where do you see your photography going in terms of subject and style?
Good question. I am currently at that point where I have been thinking that I have to change something. There are now so many other great photographers who work in really similar styles to myself, so I have to find a new thing to set me apart from the mass.
I guess it is not the style of photography which I have to find. Rather, I just need to give my work more body. In future, I don't want to shoot just beautiful landscapes. I want to give my art more importance. I need to find a way to mix hyperreal landscape photographer with documentary photography or reportage photography. I don't want to show just beautiful pictures. I want to make people think about things. I want to change people's minds.
Fabio's aim is to provoke thought with his imagery. Photo by: 'Fabio Antenore'.
Tell us a little bit about what you’re currently working on and what’s in store for you in the coming year.
Oh, I have many plans, like I said before. I will change many things but I will still run all of my workshops. I also want to run workshops in new destinations. Maybe I will start some work on new tutorials soon, as well as increasing my work on YouTube. I also want to have more speeches at international events. Of course, I also want to try to shoot as much as possible in new destinations... that is, if they are not closing all the borders because of COVID-19.
I want to visit so many places!
Learn to master the art of photography as you travel to incredible destinations all around the world, just like Fabio. Check out our range of international photo tours and photography workshops.