This is the guy who shoots the most beautiful videos you’ve seen this year
I’ve already introduced you to Tobi Schnorpfeil, a German videographer and Instagrammer, in my last Insta Faves post but I found myself gasping for air every time he uploaded an image that I figured he’d be the right guy for a Q&A on what made him the great story teller he is. Without further ado, ladies and gents, meet the man behind the camera:
A post shared by Tobi Schnorpfeil (@tschnorpfeil) on
Hello there! Where are you from and how do you spend your days?
I’m 26 years old and from a gorgeous small village by the Mosel river in Germany. Sadly, I don’t spend much time there anymore as I’m constantly on the road. I finished college (civil engineering) last year and I’ve been producing videos since then.
Can you remember your first ever trip? Where was it and what made it special?
I’d probably say that was a six-week road trip with my best friend through the US after high school as my “first ever trip”. We started in Colorado, drove all the way to San Francisco, down to L.A. and back to Colorado via Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon. This was my longest trip ever. Sadly, I didn’t shoot videos back then. It was a crazy adventure with lots of unplanned things. We met really nice people in hostels and experienced freedom for the first time. No thoughts about school, college or jobs – just summer, friends and a road trip.
How did you get into shooting video and photo?
It started as a hobby, I guess that’s how most people get into it. I used to create little vacation video edits from ski trips with the sports club from my hometown (you wouldn’t want to watch any of these today!). When I picked up my first “decent” camera (Nikon D3100), I got interested in photography. Not just in taking snapshots but in actual photographs. Obviously, my pictures sucked at the beginning but I wanted to know why, so I started to research photography tips and tutorials online, you can learn almost everything online nowadays. I did the same for videography for some years and tried to learn as much as I could.
How do you approach and treat locals when you want them to show you their home?
The easiest way is to visit Asia. The mentality there is completely different, people are incredibly open minded and friendly. That’s why I love to visit Asia (Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and Laos so far) and create short travel films to share this experience with everyone watching my video.
For the most part it’s very easy to interact with the locals as they’re interested in where you come from and what language you speak. When the answer is “Germany”, they sometimes say “football, football“ (I’m not a football fan). In touristy regions, this is different for sure, a lot of scams happen there and people are tired of tourists “invading” their homes. That’s one reason why I always try to travel off the beaten path and really dive into local culture.
Vietnam, Iceland and Indonesia are all fairly well known destinations yet you manage to present us a completely intimate and special perspective. Where do you get your inspiration as to how to tell the story?
Inspiration is everywhere! With platforms like Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest it just takes seconds to get visual inspiration. There are so many talented creators out there, it’s hard not to get inspired.
Another big thing for me is music. I love to skip through all different kinds of music and wait for an emotional reaction.
A story is rarely made in one day. It can take a few days or even weeks until you have a clear vision of what you want to create and ultimately want to tell the world.
How long does it take for you to shoot and then edit a video?
That always depends on the project. My Vietnam video took four weeks of shooting and about four weeks of editing (not 8 hours a day though). As this is a creative process it sometimes takes days to edit just a few seconds and sometimes it takes only hours to create a minute or more. It also depends on the planning before shooting. For my travel videos it’s hard to plan in detail beforehand as I’ve mostly never been at the locations, don’t know where exactly the sun will be when I’m there (timing is everything!) and how the weather will be. The other extreme is my “Embrace Life” video. It took three sunsets to shoot and about eight hours to edit.
What gear do you use?
I use a Sony A7s (Mark I) since almost 2.5 years as my main camera with various lenses (Sony/Zeiss, Canon FD & Voigtlander). I use the Flycam Nano HD to stabilize my videos. A GoPro is always in my backpack although I barely use it.
What has been your most memorable experience on the road so far and why?
One of the hardest questions for me! There were so many intense moments, each very different from the other. I’ll remember most of them forever. Just an example: On my road trip through California in November 2013 we spent a day in Yosemite National Park (MUST SEE!) and did the “Panorama Trail” (which is about 13 miles if you start in the valley). On our way back down during dusk my friend Daniel and I met a bear on the trail (we haven’t seen any other hikers for 1 hour!). Yup, a real bear without fences and stuff. We instantly froze, scared as hell! Luckily, the bear didn’t care about us or the food in our backpacks at all. He just kept walking and left the trail again. How would you forget that?
You’re also part of quite a large Instagram community of nature lovers in Germany. Why is Instagram your network of choice?
I think Instagram is the best platform for visual creatives at the moment. It’s great to have the opportunity to connect with like-minded people and inspire each other. I’ve met people via Instagram I might have never met otherwise.
Additionally, I can showcase my own photographs and videos to other people all over the world and hopefully inspire them.
A post shared by Tobi Schnorpfeil (@tschnorpfeil) on
What are your top three tips for travellers who want to bring back similarly awesome snaps?
If you don’t know what camera you should buy or how to use the “M” mode, then don’t. Grab your phone, it’s always with you and the built-in cameras are pretty decent nowadays.
Go out and shoot. All the tips and tricks online won’t help you if you don’t go out and try to use them! Leave the camera in your bag once in a while. Sometimes the special moments are best captured with your eyes.
Where are you headed next?
I’ll be in the Swiss Alps and the Dolomites meeting some Instagrammers to shoot with next week. There’s also a big travel project coming up this summer… watch this space!
Thanks so much for your time Tobi and keep on shooting awesome stuff!