Joni Hedinger

Sights set on the Swiss Alps

Claude Hervé-Bazin
Joni Hedinger
Winter 2023-2024

A carpenter by trade, Joni Hedinger became a professional photographer thanks to Instagram; a lightning-fast career change that now allows him to make a living off his passion for wide open spaces and majestic mountains.

Lake Zurich below, Alpine mountains on the horizon, Joni Hedinger has made Rapperswil his homebase and the eternal Swiss countrysides his favourite subject. “No philosophy per se (yet),” says the 31-year-old, who is driven by a strong urge to seize life by the jaws, with his camera at the ready.

It all began when adolescent Joni posted his first smartphone images to his Instagram. While he filled his days with scrapers, gouges, and saws (while training as a carpenter), his Instagram followers began to climb steadily… and then exploded. At the age of 23, the young man from St. Gallen bought his first camera. Three years later, after amassing several thousands of followers (and a lot of confidence), he quit woodworking to focus on photography fulltime. 

A mountain enthusiast
Pastime, passion, work, and creative outlet: for Joni, all four elements make up his day-to-day routine. Working hard for various brands in addition to feeding his Instagram account (with 157,000 followers at time of print), the young man easily flits from one project to the next. Always ready to slide on his hiking boots and load up a sleeping bag, he’s never as comfortable as he is in the high mountains, “between adventure and inspiration.” What makes him tick? The feeling that he’s living a series of magical moments, up there, on top of the world. What motivates him? Transmitting that energy to others. “What I love most of all are the minimalist photos of the mountains, and the adventurous images that get peoples’ heart rates up when they look at them.”  

Joni’s success is marked by his membership in The Alpinists collective, composed of 11 passionate Instagram photographers. What began as exchanges and congratulations led to constructive conversations, group hikes, a WhatsApp group, a dedicated Instagram account, and then an official association and a host of group projects — notably photography workshops and two published books of hiking photography, Lost in the Alps and Lost in the Alps 2. “It’s a huge privilege,” says Joni, recognizing how lucky he is to have made a career out of his passion.

And yet it’s not all “just luck.” Joni is organised (having to plan both lighting and destinations), takes care of his equipment almost obsessively (juggling stills, video, and drone photography), and scouts all his locations (multiple times if needed) — as was the case for his pictures of the Matterhorn and the Weisshorn featured here. The elements, of course, played a key role in the rest, giving Joni the occasional perfect opportunity to seize that rare and precious moment.