Born in 1972 in the Upper Franconian town of Kronach (Germany), his father acquainted Stephan Amm early with the local flora and fauna. Many a Sunday hike led them to different corners of their native Franconia. His father's Leica was always with them, and so Stephan Amm became interested in photography early. He bought his first SLR camera as a university student, developing black and white film in an improvised photo lab. Although enjoying city life, his wish to spend what little leisure time there was out in nature kept growing. As a first consequence, he moved back to his rural hometown. Later, this proved to ideally counterbalance his work as a pharmacist, and he realized that photography was his true calling.
Today, Stephan Amm covers all aspects of nature photography with a special focus on exceptional and atmospheric points of view. The major part of his photographs originates from different natural areas of his native Franconia; published in specialist magazines, books and calendars throughout the world, they have also participated in national and international competitions. In 2014 Stefan took the plunge into freelance photography. Nature continuous to be the focus of his work complemented by architecture and reportages.
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Frozen water with its manifold shapes and appearances in different natural regions has never failed to fascinate and challenge me photographically. As a photographer who prefers to shoot mostly in the vicinity of his home town, I learnt quickly to value ice as an ingredient capable of enriching many subjects by adding a certain something. I am interested in classical painting, and it often fascinates me when a seemingly random combination of different natural materials leads to a harmonious picture. Just as eliciting secrets from a painting with the help of art history, you can dive deep beyond the beauty of the ice, discovering natural mechanisms such as the role of winter-active fungi in creating hair ice. Through many years, I have learnt in which weather conditions it is especially promising to shoulder the camera backpack and go roaming the woods and fields, keeping my eyes focused on different icy subjects. The decision to put together a portfolio from these photographs quickly took root, but in the end a lot of water passed under the bridge before I had gathered the photographs required for a harmonious presentation
It was one of these rare days in winter when hoarfrost also covered the forest floor, lending a new shine to the old leaves. The low-angled morning sun quickly put an end to this sugary splendour but presented the photographer with a wonderful warm-cold contrast.
As the first light of the day breaks through the leaves, the ice on the small forest stream looks like a painting. Air pockets are an additional element of the surface structure.
Explosion of my mind
The narrow mountain spur with its hoarfrost-covered beech trees was an aesthetic pleasure in itself, but the evening sun added a special touch to it, making it very difficult for the photographer to avert the gaze and focus on camera work.
Another constant flow, but on a rock the water slowly transforms into a temporary sculpture, a cold heart with no pulse, a place of rest before moving on.
Such structures, each unique in its own right, may be found on many ice-covered stagnant waters. This little bit of ice, which will not survive the next thaw, reminds the human mind of cell structures and galaxies in the universe, only seemingly ephemeral. Everything flows.
If you are interested in painting, there will be pieces of work engraved in your memory, and every now and then, you come across situations in nature that are reminiscent of famous paintings. But can a hike along a river on a cold winter's day remind one of Monet's waterlilies? With ice crystals as flowers, and the reflections of trees as aquatic plants? Sure, with a little bit of imagination!
In our life's reality, sleet often causes chaos – in a forest on the surface of a tree fungus it just looks magic.
Physical processes are not enough to create the rare hair ice or frost beard. Winter-active fungi are also necessary in addition to suitable environmental conditions. Fantastic to look at, it gives the wintery forest floor a special touch.
In the right weather conditions with snow and ice, the higher altitudes of German low mountain ranges may appear like a landscape from the Nordic taiga. The granite rocks transform into abstract compositions of ice, rocks and snow.