Photography with Chris Marquardt

Photo Courtesy of

“This picture has been taken in Iceland in February, in a cave under a glacier. I loved the scale of the ice dome and the people on the picture help show the scale really well. I also love the textures and shapes of the ice.” stated Chris Marquardt.

Chris Marquardt is a world famous photographer, instructor, videographer, producer, and is curious by nature. His goal is to help people be better photographers and he is all about teaching and sharing knowledge. He hosts Tips from the Top Floor, the show about photography. He also co-hosts Happy Shooting in German, and he does workshops and seminars. He is based in Tübingen, southern Germany.

Chris brings his workshops to Germany, the US, Canada, Japan and even the Himalayas. He is behind the application, PocketChris, the photo instructor in your pocket. He has climbed Mount Everest to take breathtaking photos of the sheer cliffs and the people living there. He has also taken gorgeous photos of Iceland and Ethiopia.

I recently had the opportunity to ask Chris the following questions:

  1. What is the best advice that you would give to a 14 year old boy or girl who is interested in photography?

It’s the photographer who takes the picture, not the camera. You decide where to point the camera, you decide how close you get to your subject, you decide what you put in the frame and what you leave out and you decide when to press the button. If you want, you even get to decide where the focus is, what the colors look like and how you expose the shot. The camera is only a box with a lens on one end and a sensor on the other side. Everything else like HDR and so on is bells and whistles and the camera makers will of course try to make you believe that you need to buy their camera to be a better photographer.

Also: technical things like sharpness aren’t really what pictures are about. It’s what you feel when you look at it that counts. And for that it doesn’t matter if it’s technically perfect.

Fact is: I often shoot with my iPhone and I love it.

2. What is your favorite picture and why?

Not an easy question to answer, but it’s probably Simiane la Rotonde by Henri Cartier-Bresson. You can see it here:

I like it for several reasons: all the living things in the picture come in pairs, the girls, the men, the dogs, the boys. All of them have their places in the picture, see the frames the windows make. But what I like most is that when Cartier-Bresson took the picture, he didn’t wait and take ages to compose or direct. He walked past this place with a friend and shot it in passing. He was such a good photographer that he spotted this situation and its composition in an instant and took the picture in passing. When I grow up, I want to be that good!

3. How did you ever decide on starting a podcast?

My younger brother told me about podcasting 10 years ago. That’s when it was all new and not many people knew about it. But I found the idea exciting, especially as I had thought about getting on local radio. But the prospect of being able to reach as many people as I liked, as opposed to a few hundred radio listeners who would be at the right spot at the right time when I was on the air, that was an intriguing thought. I had a microphone and I knew how to record. I also knew how to get things on the internet and I had a topic to talk about: photography. So I began talking into the microphone and made 10 short episodes, each about a different aspect of photography. At that time I thought that after 10 episodes everything important would be said. now almost 700 episodes later I realise how wrong I was.

4. What does it take to have someone be successful in your field?

I really helps to stick with it. To keep doing it. In average I have done more than one episode per week for ten years. I had short breaks when I got too busy with other things, but I always got back on the horse and didn’t stop doing it, even at times when I thought I had run out of ideas. The same is true for photography, you’ll have to keep doing it. You’ll have to practice the same way you would if you were an athlete or a musician. You can’t expect to just go on stage and play an amazing drum solo without having practices playing the drums first. The same way you can’t expect to take amazing pictures without constantly practicing your craft of photography.

5. Is there any location or subject that you would love to shoot?

I love to shoot in places where normal people can’t get to, especially if it’s big industrial places. For example I want to shoot inside a big power plant cooling tower one day. Or in a big NASA spaceship hangar. Or in a huge shipyard. I’d love to do an entire project about industrial architecture of the massive scale.

If you are interested in more about Chris you can find him on Flickr  or his website at or download his podcast, Tips from the Top Floor on Itunes.