Silvan Widmer

Guided by the Mountain

Claude Hervé-Bazin
Silvan Widmer
Winter 2019-2020

28 year old Silvan Widmer is young by all accounts. Three years ago, he brought his camera on a hike for the very first time. He was exploring one of his favourite trails on the Alpstein mountain in Saint-Gall, not far from where he lives. He hikes there often enough to feel at one with every river, stone, and blade of grass. He could not stop taking pictures, and upon his return, he reworked the images and was surprisingly pleased with the result. He found himself overcome by a powerful realization: photography could be used as a medium for sharing the many emotions he experienced when he was lost in admiration of nature’s beauty.

Born and raised in the Toggenburg valley, Silvan has been a child of the mountains all his life. He loves the mountains. He loves Alpstein, Churfirsten, and the spellbinding Horu (the local Walliser German name for the Matterhorn). His favourite photo is of that epic mountain itself. “One evening, the clouds that usually shroud the mountain cleared,” he explained, “and as the sun went down in total and incredible silence, the mountain was bathed in surreal, magnificent light… It was a blessing, exactly the type of moment that feeds my soul. Those moments are precious beyond measure; no amount of money can buy them. Photography has really taught me how to experience nature’s beauty with greater acuity.”

Silvan doesn’t painstakingly plan his shots. Nothing is pre-determined as per the seasons or the time of day. “I think the most beautiful images are always captured by chance,” the young photographer declares, “that’s exactly what makes them so exciting.” He is guided by instinct and supported by a healthy dose of patience, especially if he’s looking for ibexes, which are often found near many of his favourite haunts. Once again, chance plays a huge role in his work as these creatures are unpredictable and seeing one is always a rush. In Silvan Widmer’s photos, mankind plays only a supporting role. At times, man’s only purpose in his work is to reinforce the absolute power of nature which surrounds him. Humankind is simply a stepping stone, a ladder, a witness. The weather plays no role in his planning as the young man likes taking pictures in any and all high-contrast conditions; “everything except beautiful weather,” he exclaims.    

Silvan enjoys exploring every angle of the mountains. While he doesn’t rock climb, he is an intense and passionate hiker. He also appreciates capturing a bird’s-eye view using using his DJI Phantom 4 Pro drone, “always legally and in a way that’s respectful of nature,” he is sure to specify. He occasionally does client work, and cited recent collaborations with Swiss Tourism, outdoor gear companies, and mountain lodges... All work that aligns with his personal passion for the mountains. His plans for the future? Lots of walking and surely some travelling. One example on his hit list is the Faeroe Islands: a place where the mountains drop directly into the sea, in a symphony of stunning landscapes.