Dawna Mueller’s Summits Exhibition StileVivo Männedorf
Mad for Mountains? If so, then head to photographer Dawna Mueller’s stunning new show, “Summits,” on view at StileVivo Gallery in Männedorf until 24th March.
The show features 18 black-and-white images of mountain peaks taken in the Swiss Alps and Dolomite mountains over the course of the last 12 months.
Shot from a variety of angles and vantage points, the photos capture stark contrasts in the landscape and highlight the drama and majesty of their alpine subjects.
Mueller is a Canadian who has lived in Männedorf since 2004. Having worked as a lawyer, soft furnishings designer and real estate investor, Mueller studied professional photography for a year with Cap Fotoschule and now works full time as a landscape photographer specializing in Alpine and extreme regions. Her adventures have included repelling into glaciers and hanging out of helicopters in the pursuit of an image. Below, Mueller chats with NewInZurich about her work.
Photographer Dawna Mueller
Interview with Dawna Mueller
NIZ: Your photos of mountains are really spectacular. Tell us, why do you like photographing mountains, and especially summits, so much?
DM: Spending time in the mountains emotionally moves me, and the visions of what I see are spectacular. What I see is sometimes so visually compelling that I really feel the need to document it. The summits are for me the pinnacles of power and grace. I personally feel such an incredible surge of physical strength when I am in the mountains.
NIZ: How do you figure out the best way to photograph a mountain?
DM: I walk around a lot before I even take out my camera. I get to know the space I am in. I observe everything around me so that by the time I take my camera out I feel intimately connected with the space. It can often take quite a while for me to take a photo because I really want to enjoy my experience. If it’s taken me a while to reach a location I like to spend time just taking it all in.
I shoot in colour but I always convert my images into black and white because this is also how I see landscapes.
NIZ: Don’t you sometimes hang out of helicopters to get a good shot?
DM: I really love to look at things from different vantage points, and flying in the mountains above and beside these magnificent edifices is breathtaking. They are massive and one very quickly gets a perspective of how small we all are.
The technical aspect of shooting from helicopters is challenging and, while I received lots of advice from my teachers and some blogs that I read, it really is something you learn by doing. I clearly want full visibility without windows or doors so I ask that the door be either taken off entirely or that it can be opened when I need.
I try to work backwards with the image in my mind and then figure out what time of day the sun will be in the position that I want. But it’s Mother Nature I am dealing with and not always predictable, therefore things like weather, clouds, jet streams etc. can get in the way. I am always really excited to upload my photos from a helicopter shoot because unlike shooting landscape images while on land, I have to shoot so fast that I really don’t have the luxury of time to review my images in the moment.
NIZ: Do you think mountains have personalities/characters?
DM: Absolutely, I am convinced they have characters. I find that the Bernina range from Piz Palu to the Biancograt is very sensuous and soft with lots of curves. The mountains in the Dolomites and in the valley of Bergell are very dramatic with lots of sharp angles and rugged peaks. This visual character of a mountain range can be identified immediately when visiting for the first time but spending time there reveals much more than is apparent at the first glance.
NIZ: What is the next adventure you have planned?
DM: I am very interested in alpine and arctic conservation, and I have planned a trip with National Geographic and arctic photographer Daisy Gilardini to the Svalbard in June to see glaciers, ice fields and polar bears in their natural environment. I find it devastating that polar bears are drowning due to lack of ice in their habitat. But, on a positive note, I believe we can all be engaged to make a difference in this amazing world in which we live and contribute something meaningful that we are passionate about.
For more information please visit Dawna Mueller’s website here.
The exhibition is on till 24th March 2017 at:
Kugelgasse 14, 8708 Männedorf.
Interview and article by Jennifer Lisle.
Jennifer is a Zurich-based freelance journalist who has written for The Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal and Elle, among many others.