20 years Popp-Hackner Photography!

We are celebrating our 20th year in the nature photography business with a special collectors-book as a tip-off to a series of landscape photography books!

20 years ago, in 1998, we jumped into the frigid cold waters of making a living in the photography business. Or better: We daringly declared ourselves “professional landscape photographers”. Whatever that will mean exactly, we had no clue.
We had taken photos for some years, of course and we had published stories and photos before. However, we started this lifetime-project (or maybe lifestyle project?) in classy style: With an eight month long journey through North America, mainly West Canada & Alaska, with a cheap tent and sleeping bags, in a rusty old Chevy van and - most important - two sea kayaks on the rooftop. The travel motto was easy, "Keep traveling as long as the money lasts".

During this trip in 1998, on many long evenings, we scribbled down lots of ideas - creative and marketing related ones - into a small notebook and emptied numerous bottles of red wine along the way. Ok, sometimes we just played Back Gammon. Coming back late in 1998, we had a plan, zero money but tons of ambitions to make this happen, no matter how unlikely the chances of succeeding would be.

One can consider the late 1990's or early 2000's as the end of an era, that lasted for many decades. We are looking back now on a time span of (only!) 20 years, in which things changed from faxes and stationary telephones (and coin machines when traveling) to smart phones, free Wi-Fi, from analogue photography only to (almost) only digital, from no internet to websites, email and social media etc. From KODAK being synonymously for photographs, to KODAK being a ghost from the past. The transition of "then" to "now" was as drastic as it can be. Last but not least, for us, it was a transition from being a young, poor but free, adventurous and ambitious couple, to being caring and responsible parents of two teenage daughters. No small feat either.

On top of it - more than seven out of these 20 years (369 weeks exactly – yep, we are keeping book about this), we spent in foreign regions, on the road, in tents, hiking, kayaking – taking photographs, exploring the planet. All considered - it seems to be so much more, than one could fit into just two decades.

Through all this time and even before 1998, one thing remains unchanged for us: We still shoot the majority of our work on film, using 4x5’ large format cameras, partly the original ones we bought in 1995! Aside from many downsides in shooting large format, this means, we can pull out images, that we shot back over 20 years ago and use them without any quality-restraints. Even these early images of ours are holding up to par in print quality, clarity and sharpness to the rsults one can get, with the utmost sophisticated equipment of today. Quite a luxury!

Celebrating this 20 years (and a little bit the few years prior to that in an epilogue), will be subject of a (big, fat!) book we are currently working on. Initially planned as a “Thank You!” for our family and the selected few (friends and business partners), who played major roles in our photography career. But through talks with friends and photographers, we were motivated to put it out there for others, too. For the handful few, who we may have inspired along the way, who followed our work in all the years or who always dreamed about it or who continuously shook their heads, wondering “how in the world this all can work out!”.

To say, this will be a small-market product, would be the overstatement of the past 20 years, of course. We didn’t even consider, asking a publisher to do it. What this means is, it won’t be a cheap book. To compensate for a rather whopping price tag, it will be a high-end book, containing unique and (very) personal stories and diaries, info for photography enthusiasts, which you won’t get to read from us anywhere else. Also tons of our favourite and also many seldom published images. With "making of" stories to a number of them.
It won’t be a Hyundai of photobooks, but a Bentley. No discount-supermarket bottle of wine, but a long-matured Bordeaux, that needed years to evolve. Just saying this upfront, as some sort of “warning”.

The book will be out in late fall. But it will only be the beginning.
For us, it will be the tip-off to launch two series of landscape-photography books, “Journeys” and “Landscapes”. Probably at the same time this year, “Tasmania Journeys” will be finished as part of the first book in the “Journeys”-series, followed next year by “Cypress Swamps”, as # 1 in the “Landscape”- series and “New Zealand Journeys”. All in all, we have a fixed plan to publish at least ten large (minimum 30x30cm, 200 pages - up to 35x30cm and over 400 pages) photo books until 2021! We keep you posted.

As for now, we are writing chapters, searching the archive for personal work-images from us along the 20 years (which are rare!), briefing our book designer, printing and binding companies, making test-dummies and – putting the finishing touches of some of the 13 portfolios (covering all large bodies of work we have worked on in all these years) of photographs, that will be introduced in this first book. Meaning, we will have to travel quite a bit in 2018, too. Tasmania, Mexico, Western Australia and New Zealand are among the places we will be heading to. After all, it is us, who want to celebrate the 20 years, striving in a business, which is changing and demanding and merciless like no other.

Yes, it’s been a rollercoaster ride in some years but it has been all we had never dared to hope for. We might get tears in our eyes looking back, thinking how lucky we are. But we worked hard for it. Now, stuffing the emotions and photos and background stories into this book will be yet another challenge. And as always, we’ll give it our best effort to make it happen.