As a young boy, Roman Königshofer dreamt he would become a professional freestyle snowboarder, and not a landscape photographer. Then came his school-leaver exams, national service, a year off, freedom, dreaming big, lots of snowboarding … until the doctor told him he’d torn his cruciate ligament. Career over. Dream finished. “When I bust my knee, I was pretty down”, says Roman. And so, Roman Königshofer, born in 1982, sought strength elsewhere – through capturing the mood in mountain vistas.

“I’d always liked taking pictures when I was out and about, and I’d made a couple of films, too.” Next, followed a degree in Information Design at Graz, a few courses in Graphic Design, and stints as an intern in Los Angeles, New York and Berlin. But sitting at a screen twelve hours a day just wasn’t cutting it for someone like Roman, who loves the outdoors. A few years exploring the world as a freelance filmmaker for Red Bull was more like it; filming, travelling, surfing.

"Sometimes I take my camera with me up the mountain, and never even take it out."

His portfolio includes big names from all sectors

In 2015, he started posting some of his archive images on Instagram and soon realised how popular they were. Visiting his Instagram account or website, it’s clear to see why. For the viewer, his images have the effect of placing you directly in that landscape, amongst those clouds, on that wave, or balancing on that ridge. Soon, he switched from making films to photography alone. These days, his portfolio includes big names from all sectors: South Tyrol, Samsung, Mercedes, Nike. In terms of business expansion, Instagram, where he now has over 200,000 followers, has become his calling card on the Internet. The Austrian photographer is also a member of the German Roamers, an acknowledgement of merit for outdoor photography on the Internet. And best of all, he spends about half his working life out in the fresh air.

Because his true heart lies in the ocean and, above all, in the mountains. Mountain biking, climbing, ski touring. A while back, together with his wife and son, he moved from Innsbruck in the heart of the Alps, back to his roots in Styria, where the Alps taper out in the east. These days, he lets his Instagram account go quiet from time to time, and his trusty camera, which used to be his constant companion, he sometimes leaves at home too. Because experience has taught the professional ‘mood catcher’ that there’s more to going into the mountains than just taking pictures.

4 questions for Roman

What’s the most important quality for an outdoor photographer?

I think you need to have a real love of the outdoors, as well as photography. The two are inextricable for me. Otherwise, I’d be doing something else. Especially because you need to be in just the right spot at just the right time. Your sleep definitely suffers if you’re capturing the sunrise on top of a mountain every other day. But if your love of the subject keeps the flame alive, then you just suck it up. It’s that drive, that passion – that’s probably the most important quality to have.

How can you make sure you stand out from the crowd in this age of Instagram and ever-improving digital cameras?

By doing what you’re passionate about. Somebody once said: “It’s obvious you love being outdoors.” And I thought that was really nice, because it takes quite a bit of effort to create my images – and I’d even be as bold as to say that my Instagram account already stands out from others. With some photographers you can tell that the images have been taken from about ten metres away from the car. Not that I’m judging that, of course.

Can you take good mountain images without good equipment?

Yes, I think you can. It’s not about the kit but about capturing that moment. As a professional, of course a good camera helps – let’s say, with a good autofocus function if you’re taking sports images and you only have a split-second window of opportunity. But these days, you can take really good pictures of a sunrise from a 3,000-metre peak with a smartphone too.

Isn’t it a bit tacky taking pictures of the sunrise?

No, not at all. Recently I was on top of our local mountain here for sunrise and it was super cool. That doesn’t mean I have to take cheesy photos when I’m up there though. It’s more about the light and the atmosphere at that time of day that produces some of the best pictures.

Hanwag Makra Pro Low GTX in different colours

Roman's favorite shoe: HANWAG Makra Pro Low GTX

“The HANWAG Makra Pro Low GTX is comfortable to wear all day long – and the fit is perfect. I discovered a few years ago that low cut shoes can actually be really good for mountain use.”
(Roman Königshofer)

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