“Being outside photographing in nature and particularly in the wild gives me peace and harmony. It is like a big equalizer to a loud and demanding everyday life.” – Kai Hornung
Kai Hornung is an award-winning German-based photographer, whose extraordinary landscape images showcase the immense beauty of the natural world.
Despite his obvious dexterity and considerable repute, it was barely six years ago that Hornung began his photographic journey in earnest.
Although he first picked up a camera some fifteen years earlier, up until 2016 his interest in the medium was largely a perfunctory one, a means to document his travels, and later, his children, rather than an outlet for creative expression. He found this instead through music: writing, recording, and performing providing the vehicles for his artistic voice.
Since the great Ansel Adams found incitation in the striking scenery of Yosemite National park, the breathtaking beauty of the natural world has long been an impetus for photographic output, and it was a 2016 trip to Ireland that opened Hornung’s eyes to the potential of landscape images, aided by his natural affinity to the arts.
“I started learning what makes a landscape photograph, how to actually compose, and also how to edit. My interest in art in general and my genuine interest in personal expression certainly helped immensely in my artistic journey into photography.”
Hornung was always a keen traveler, yet from thereon in he would view the world differently.
A snow-white bird soars before the effervescing waters of an Icelandic falls; a shaded woodland pathway, putatively more akin to some enchanted corner of Middle Earth than the island of Tenerife; Autumnal leaves, their hues accentuated by the obsidian waters in which they float, evoking the still-life oil paintings of the Baroque masters.
His approach is, an instinctive one, his images, in the main, reflexive responses to his surroundings rather than the results of carefully planned compositions pre-conrtsructed in his mind’s eye.
“I rather have an image call me and react to my environment accordingly than go with preconceived notions or a planned image. Not saying that I do not pre-visualize images here and there. But adapting to the field and finding ‘my’ image is more satisfying for me. The final result and the final image usually require my post-processing though. Not in altering the scene, but in unfolding the often unconscious and instinctive decision to capture the image with my camera and reveal its story and vision through the editing process.”
Despite his relatively young career, his talent and vision have garnered widespread plaudits and recognition. He has received a number of awards and accolades including, ‘Photograph of the Year’, at the 2020 International Landscape Photographer of the Year Awards, and two of his images were shortlisted for the Sony World Photo, Landscape award in 2020. Furthermore, his work has graced the pages of numerous notable publications and online media outlets including, National Geographic, Elements, and Condé Nast.
He has served as a juror for a number of photo contests and is also an educator, sharing his photographic knowledge with others through speeches, written articles, workshops, and courses. He does so in the hope that they too will find the happiness and harmony that he has through his practice.
“Why landscape imagery? – It is simply the natural beauty of our world. Something that is higher and bigger than every one of us. Something that was before us and will be after us. Being outside photographing in nature and particularly in the wild gives me peace and harmony. I try to isolate scenes and elements out of natural chaos and at best, make it ‘my’ image. When successful I find this hugely fulfilling.”
All images © Kai Hornung