travel photography
Rolf Hicker Photography
Animal * Nature * Travel Photography

Freelance animal nature and travel photographer

Introduction to us/me (Rolf Hicker) - freelance animal, nature and travel photographer.

Uhhh, I just figured out that I started writing picture blogs but did not even introduce myself first. No worries, I will try to keep it short.

Travel Photographer Team Michelle and Rolf Hicker
Well, I'm Rolf Hicker. I was born and raised in a mid size town named Freising in the heart of Germany. I became a full time professional photographer as soon as it was legal - which was when I turned 18 years of age. Although I started with some adventure tours I decided early that it is not the extreme adventure I was seeking - no - it was the travel part on one side, to explore new cultures and people, new landscapes and scenery's, learning new languages (at least a few words) and on the other side I've always loved animals and to watch them. That's basically the reason why I call myself "officially" an animal, nature and travel freelance photographer and stock photographer. Why freelance? Well, although I do quite a bit of assignment work for travel companies, magazines and non profits, most of my photography I do is on a freelance basis. This means I take the risk by going somewhere for a shoot, doing all the research ourselves, writing our shooting lists and so on. Why stock photographer? I have a large image library which I sell images out of, so my library is basically my stock photos.

As much as we need assignments, I do love the freelance part. Don't get this wrong, the freelance part is way more stressful then being on assignment. On a freelance production my risk is way higher and I need to decide where I focus on, depending on location if I should concentrate more on cities or landscapes or even on wildlife photography. That's what I like about assignments, I can concentrate on a very special request we normally get from our customers. In a normal year I don't do more then maybe 4 or 5 assignments, but then sometimes we get enough contracts for a whole year - it really depends.

Full Time professional photographer - yes, I really don't do anything else. All my income HAS TO come from photography. Quit a challenge these days, the business has turned a lot in the last few years, especially through digital photography. Most of my workshop participants are retired wealthy people. I had people showing up on my workshops with brand new equipment, valued way over $60,000 but they did not even know where to turn the camera on. Many of those people end up giving images away for free to magazines (although I must say that I have not seen this problem with any of my work shop friends) but how should we compete with that? We would not even be able to afford that much equipment at once ever.

Anyway, I was talking about full time - I do nothing else but photography and it is my only income, hard to compare with other "pro photographers" which have money rolling in from another job, or being retired and can live off one or two image sales a month - I sure can't feed my family with 2 image sales per month.

I have several agencies distributing my images world wide, although I also have to say that I canceled most of my contracts. I got too mad that they were selling my images for any price they could get, sometimes for as low as $2, and then we still have to share with them too. How should that work - ever? So, I decided a few years ago to cancel many of my contracts and to concentrate on the Internet. The Internet is a medium were I can at least show my images without any other people (like agencies) making a decision which image will get shown.

In short - yes I'm pretty sick of agencies and believe, very strongly, that they are the biggest problem to real professional photographers. Just imagine those other 40/50/60% they keep on our images if that money would be out in the market. We could offer 50% off every image license and still make the same. Not that I do photography to make lots of money - NO I sure don't, but I decided many years ago that it will be my profession and now I need to stick with it. I'm not out to make big bucks BUT fact is that I have to make money to pay our bills and to feed my family (especially now with our new born son).

Beside that??? I'm married to my beautiful and very understanding wife Michelle from New Zealand - she understood very early that photography is a lifestyle, she adapted extremely fast and she is now my biggest helper - in fact helper is the wrong word - she is my photography partner. She is helping me to research locations, carrying equipment, making bookings and so on. I soon realised that a supporting wife is at least as important as my equipment - without her I could not do it anymore! I'm sure happy that she decided to leave New Zealand behind to live with me in Canada.

So, I better also apologize right now for not writing a perfect English language. I'm German, almost could not finish school because of bad marks in English, then I started traveling more in North America and a friend of mine started to teach me a bit. I should also say that he was from Texas and he made sure I pick up some slang. Then I immigrated to Canada which finally forced me to speak and learn it more and more, to add to my language confusion I then married my wife which is from New Zealand. Many of you, which met me in person so far, sure told me that I have a bit of a strange accent in my English. So please apologize that my posts are maybe not perfect but I'm trying as much as possible but it always will be only my second language.

Last not least...I think I'm very easy to get along with. The only thing I can not stand is if somebody tells me something but then not following up. it simply drives me insane when somebody tells me "I will give you a call..." and I never receive it. I also can not stand if people are not honest with me, especially in this case I loose my "easy going" very fast.

And last... yes, I have a nice list of credits but don't really make a big deal out of it. Yes, my pictures were published in magazines like National Geographic, Canadian Geographic, Readers Digest, the list of companies which used my images is also long and has some fairly well known names in it, i.e. Porsche, BMW, Holland America, NPS, Sierra Club, Toyota, HSUS and others. And yes, I also have my own books published, unfortunately non of them in English. Not surprising as I have not been on the North American market ever, I hope to find a good publsiher soon which is maybe interested doing an English book with me (poor editor correcting all my bad English).

And the future? Not sure yet what the future brings but I'm excited about new challenges. I never could sit still or not do anything, yes, we are maybe what someone calls a workaholic. Right now I'm looking forward to see my son grow up and after 5 years of traveling and not having a home I'm very excited that we finally will have some more time at home, at least for a while. I'm excited to show you some of my images you have not seen before, I'm excited to write some blog and I'm excited about our new "baby" - The Artists Point Bed, Breakfast and Photo Tours - now I don't need to travel too far for some of my photo workshops because we can do them where we live - on Northern Vancouver Island which is known for its amazing wildlife and scenery.

Puhh, thats enough now for today.

So, if you still want to know a bit more about me then I only can direct you to my official freelance photographer bio with all the "official" details.

My motto:
"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes" (Marcel Proust 1871-1922)

Author: Rolf Hicker - 2010-07-28
last blog: Fall Denali National Park Alaska
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