You quit the world of snowboard photography two years ago. Why?Thomas Stöckli:
I had a very good decade of capturing some of the world’s best riders and chasing the snow around the globe. It offered me so much, snowboarding in general, I still cannot believe where it brought me to today. It is still my favorite thing to do in my spare time. But snowboard photography is only a little piece of the whole cake. I was always hungry for more. Plus I could not imagine myself being a 40-year-old dude traveling all year with 16-year-olds.TMN:
In your snowboard work, what was the most important thing—the personality of the athlete, the concept of the shoot, the composition of the image?TS:
I guess for me the most important was about “the moment”. The moment when I found a new location, the moment when I met a new rider I wanted to work with, the moment when I was able to realize an image I had in mind for a long time. The moment when everything came together. When time stood still in my mind and all I could think of was this certain “moment.”
To be honest, it has not really changed. It works with everything in my photography—portraits, landscapes, stills, movement. It is about the moment still and probably always.TMN:
What’s your favorite camera right now?TS:
At the moment it is my beloved Hasselblad H4D. I just love working with her. She forces me to work slow.TMN:
What’s your favorite airport?TS:
I love airports! I can sit on a chair and watch people for a full day, easily. As long as there is food around. It’s like sitting in a cinema. The airport I guess I like the most is Zurich Airport, my home airport. It only takes me 10 minutes from my door to the check-in, plus there is a super good bakery, my favourite grocery store, and a food corner with typical Swiss food.TMN:
What’s the trickiest part about photographing snow?TS:
The coldness? But we say, “There is no bad weather, only bad clothing.” You can’t forecast what nature will do, at least not a 100%. Which is good, I think. It makes it difficult, but interesting at the same time. I spent so many hours, days, and weeks outside, waiting for the sun to come out, waiting for new snow, waiting for the clouds to go by or come in, depending on the photograph. So much time we spent just waiting, waiting, waiting.
What’s also super tricky is the snow gets tracked out so quick. For instance: A skateboarder can skate a certain spot a hundred times, and it will be the same again and again, except for his legs, maybe. But a snowboarder builds a jump for a full day, then the next day he can jump it maybe three times before the landing is “tracked” after 10 tries (three riders x three jumps). Or, even worse, the snow turns hot in 30 minutes after you spent eight hours the previous day shoveling to build the jump.TMN:
When was the last time you stood in front of a piece of art and felt confused?TS:
Three days ago I went to see Dan Flavin at the Kunstmuseum St. Gallen. He’s having a big solo exhibition and I loved it. But I was not confused. Last time I was confused about a piece of art was three weeks ago when I went to see paintings by Ferdinand Hodler.TMN:
What are you working on now?TS:
I am pretty much into fine art, mostly landscapes and portraits. I love finding stills and capturing them. I love mountains and cities. But not all of them. I love cities like Tokyo or smaller cities in Germany for instance. They’ve got something that attracts me a lot.
I have many different series, long-term projects. There is so much in my mind—every time I open my eyes I am getting inspired. Japan is like a second home now, and I am working on two series there—one about people that live during winter in their cars, the other one about parking lots in Hokkaido. The second one I would like to make into an exhibition and/or a book in the near future. Oh, I could go on now here forever—too many ideas, too many photos I gotta take. But I love my job. There is no better job anywhere then being a photographer and making a living from your passion. At least for me.