The mountains are my home
In September 2018, Jonas Schäfer earned an “honourable mention” in the nature category of the prestigious National Geographic Travel Photo Contest. In his eyes, that fourth place was like winning gold, a just reward for all the photographic wanderings and explorations of his formative years. So, what is in the shot? A herd of Alpine ibex crossing a ridge in the Bernese Oberland, with a rocky crest stretching below them and clouds floating through the valley. Surrounded by nature at its most beautiful, these kings of the Alps are masters of all they survey.
The effort and patience he invested in capturing that image is plain to see, just as it is in all the other images he has ever taken of these animals. The photo came about thanks to hours of walking, unstinting diligence and a little bit of luck. Like all animal photographers, Jonas lives for the spoils of the hunt – that precious moment where all the stars align: the subject, the setting and the light. It is a small yet unforgettable miracle. That image is his window to the world, his wide mountain world, an image that arouses our very sense of identity.
“I know where I come from”
A federal civilian employee, Jonas is dreaming of a career as a professional photographer. Though he acknowledges that he has a long way to go, he is working hard, swapping VAT calculations for Alpine paths whenever he can and going in search of extraordinary landscapes and legendary animals. Though he has already travelled extensively in his young life, tracking down sharks in Hawaii and lions in Africa (a love of his since his childhood days), the photographer admits to an immense feeling of joy whenever he comes back to Switzerland. “The mountains are my domain and the animals that live there are my passion,” he says. “That’s where I feel happiest in this world.”
“Photography is the reason why I’m on this earth”
Armed with his faithful Canon 5d Mark IV, Jonas walks the mountains in summer and explores them on snow shoes and skis in the winter, as often as he can and preferably when the sun is rising or about to set. “The Alps fill me with energy and joy,” he explains. “They remind me, every time I go out, of the beauty of the world in which we are so fortunate to live. That’s what drives me. That’s the reason why I’m on this earth.”
Jonas is thinking big. But what is his goal? “To capture a unique moment, to create amazing images (both in nature and in form) and emotions, and to contribute to the understanding of the world of living things and protect its diversity.” It is quite an undertaking.