0844 Festival 2019 MG 0358

Festival Review 

by Jan Leßmann

Mysteriously and curiously, a lynx looks at penguins, white landscapes and orang-utans in wheelbarrows. The competition's overall winner sits quietly in the foyer of the Heinz-Hilpert-Theatre watching things to unroll. Elated photographers gather in small groups around single photographs, discussing technical details with great expertise, praising the exceptional image composition yet finding fault with this tiny bit of missing sharpness in the bird's eye. Good wishes ring through the exhibition hall that starts to fill up with people. A pretzel and the evening's first sparkling drop of champagne marks the beginning of the 27th GDT Nature Photography Festival in Lünen. A festival of contrasts, a mirror of several generations of nature photographers and a highlight for many nature enthusiasts.

On Friday evening, the small neon blue hotel sign is all that still hints at the regular hotel which for the weekend has turned into an ocean of images. A festival that presents a stage for a great many different photographers and bundles the vast world of nature photography into one weekend. So again, it is still no contradiction when a classic action image of a hunting cougar sits right beside a quiet, minimalistic photograph of dead bulrush. Disembodied heads of big cats find their place among imposing landscapes, reportages blend in with single images. It comes as no surprise when this year again opposites clash and tough arguments about style and general views on nature photography immediately fill the air. All too willingly we get worked up about "meaningless, boring photographs" and feel disturbed by "documentary action" and "flamingos in the living room".

But yet again this year, Lünen is much more than just a mass of photographs. By the minute conversations change from small talk to animated discussions about the problems of our society, time flies, leaving hardly enough space for profound reflection. Only I few days later I come to delight in the contrasts of the lecture programme, I recall images and take great inspiration from an intense weekend. Where else may a project on the connection of refugees and foxes in Berlin sit side by side with a classic portrait of cute fox cubs? While one lecture presents the stunning beauty of nature, the next talks about the protection of the remaining wildcats in Germany. In my mind, glaciers and sledge dogs mix with flash‑lit flamingos, jumping rabbits at cheerful music and wolves at a dump.

Friends and I drift together through the exhibitions, I visit lectures and thoroughly enjoy critical debates about pictorial language, aesthetics and art in nature photography. We review lectures we found boring, comment on exhibitions whose compilation we think inappropriate and cannot go along with the choice of the audience to vote for an action image. At the same time, I cannot stop myself form thinking that numerous other visitors probably label my favourites among the images and lectures as boring with just the same arguments. I can feel this kind of tension the whole weekend, I enjoy it and later at night at the hotel bar, I take great delight in such diversity. People with hugely contrasting opinions about aesthetics, nature conservation and politics share a table and a good laugh. People, who support a cause with all their might, who care and take a stand with great passion, argue with one another and draw great strength from a weekend that is meant to be about nature photography only.

Once again, the GDT has proved that diversity can exist side by side and actually has added value to offer. Jasper Doest finished off his lecture with images of a flock of birds, which goes off in one direction en bloc as if by magic, working together in unity. A nice metaphor for a weekend in October when people from different countries come together, share their opinions and find their seat in the Heinz-Hilpert-Theatre. When on Sunday evening so many different visitors leave for home with a huge smile and great inspiration, this is also the result of many volunteers who donate their spare time for a weekend spent together.

Last but not least, the differences and friction made Lünen once again an exceptional experience.

Thank you!

Seminars | Speakers | Lecture program



Frank Leinz (DE) Landscape photography, optimizing with filters www.fldesign.info
Jari Peltomäki (FN) Olympus-seminar - Birdphotographer‘s evolution from the black & white film to the mirrorless cameras www.jaripeltomaki.com
Radomir Jakubowski (DE) My Canon-Workflow  www.naturfotocamp.de

Speakers | lecture program

Jan van der Greef, GDT (NL) Beyond Oneness - Bridging the seen an the unseen www.janvandergreef.com 
Jon A. Juárez, GDT (ES/DE) Crossing borders – A story of foxes, refugees and photography www.joanjuga.com 
Klaus Echle, GDT (DE) Wildcats - Their return to our forests www.echle-naturfoto.de 
Ugo Mellone (IT/ES) Beyond alpenglows – Conservation stories from Patagonia www.wildphoto.it 
Peter Cairns (GB) The Big Picture – A rewilding journey www.petercairnsphotography.com

RAX Ragnar Axelsson (IS)

The Arctic – Of glaciers and people www.rax.is
GDT-Regionalgruppe Württemberg-Bayern Wild Alps - Natural treasures between rocks, caves and water falls www.rg8.gdtfoto.de
Sergey Gorshkov, GDT (RU) Wrangel Island www.facebook.com/gorshkov.photo
Wenche Dahle (NO) The light of an ocean www.wenchedahle.no
Jasper Doest (NL) One dog makes a difference - The power of story-telling www.jasperdoest.com
Csaba Daróczi (HU) Found an invented - If you can´t be lucky, be creative! www.daroczicsaba.hu
Stefan Christmann, GDT (DE) Pinguin love www.nature-in-focus.de
Maurizio Biancarelli, Bruno D'Amicis, 
Luciano Gaudenzio (IT)
One Country – A thousand landscapes. The mountains of Italy as seen by LÁltro Versante  www.brunodamicis.com
Andreas Büttner & Christian-Dietrich Morawitz (both GDT, DE) Lusatia - Paradise at a second glance  
Helmut Weller, GDT (DE) 50 years of nature conversation and nature photography. Using nature photos to fight against a further loss of biodiversity www.blickpunktnatur.de
Sarah Böhm, GDT (DE) Cunning as a fox - From the life of family fox www.sarahboehm.de



Exhibitions in the image gallery

Maurizio Biancarelli, Bruno D’Amicis, Luciano Gaudenzio (IT) L'Altro Versante: One Country – a thousand landscapes - the mountains of Italy as seen by LÁltro Versante www.laltroversante.com
Florence Dabenoc (FR) TWIGA - Twiga (giraffe in Swahili) is a cry of the heart, a cry of love for these majestic and endearing African icons www.florencedabenoc.com
Jon A. Juarez  (ES/DE)
The heart of the barracks - A story of foxes, refugees and photography www.joanjuga.com 
BioPhotoContest The ecosystems of the earth presented by the best images of this international competition www.biophotocontest.com
Florian Smit (DE) Bearer of bad tidings www.floriansmit.com
naturArt (HU) naturArt, the association of Hungarian nature photographers www.naturart.hu


The next International Nature Photography Festival of the GDT in Lünen will take place

from 23 to 25 October 2020.