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ULLI & NISA MAIER

Go Venture Featured Photopgrahper

We have another great Featured Photographer this month but with one slight difference, it’s a mother and daughter team called Cookiesound (or Ulli and Nisa Maier in real life). They answered a few questions below and let Go Venture show off some great surfing photos they captured in Tahiti.

The judging tower (view from the surf) at Teahupoo, Tahiti.

Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

We are a mother-daughter team and we always travel the world independently. We find our way without tourist guides or groups. This way its easier to find “the real thing”. “Cookiesound” is the synonym for Ulli and Nisa Maier and we are both freelance photographers. Ulli Maier (mum): Since Ulli has been travelling from the early 70’s, when all those modern gadgets were not yet invented, travelling overland through remote and unexplored regions of the black continent was a privilege for only a hand full of people. It’s what made her continue travelling the world. Today a lot of regions that she explored by a 4×4 truck with the simple method of a compass and map, are no longer accessible, at least not without an unease feeling. Back then, with Nisa in tow, the little white girl opened doors to the grimmest police officer just with her smile. Nisa Maier (daughter): I was on the road almost straight out of the maternity ward. I got familiar with foreign cultures at an early age and so I also developed a very precise photographic eye for details and colours.

Why did you become a photographer?

We come from an artistic/adventurous family background. Most of our family members were travellers, making their living through art, poetry, painting, writing, stage design and architecture. Travelling was always a high priority in our family. My grandmother travelled with the first passenger ship crossing the Suez Channel, so it was quite normal to follow into her footsteps somehow. Listening to those stories about foreign countries made my mother curious and right after fashion college, Ulli went on her first trip through Africa with an old outfitted Dodge WC52 which was left behind after WW2 from the Americans. That’s when the photographer’s bug started.

What kind of equipment do you use and what did you start with?

The Camera on this trip was an “Exacta VX1000. However, after returning and working odd jobs and saving for the next trip, the first “Canon F1” was purchased. Today we use a Canon EOS 20D and a Canon EOS 5D with a 70-300mm and a 18-85 zoom.

 Playing with waves at Teahupoo, Tahiti.

What’s the most challenging thing when travelling the world and taking photos?

The hard thing while travelling is to keep the equipment in good working order. Sand, dust and sometimes rain makes it difficult to change objectives or take pictures in general. Especially sport photography in a challenging environment like the sea with all the salty air don’t make it easier. There’s no shop out in the jungle to have things replaced or repaired, so you really need to take good care of your things.

Favourite thing or place to shoot?

Any opportunity to take pictures is favoured by us. A quiet café or rest house at a strategically interesting point, with lots of people passing by, makes a good base for shots of daily life. We love to take pictures of people during their daily activities, whether it’s a woman washing her clothes, or a man working at his motorbike. Taking surf pictures must be one of our favourite photo opportunities though. The first ones actually occurred by chance. We stayed with some pro surfers at Teahupoo in Tahiti and they asked us if we wanted go out with them on a jet ski. At first it was a bit scary to be so close to these massive waves on the back of the jet ski, but our driver was an expert. He knew every waves move and not a single drop caught the camera equipment.

Do you have a favourite photograph?

Not really. There are so many fantastic photos out there, it would be hard to name just one. But I guess the “White Shark Kayak” picture is one that…stands out :) But like I said, in the times of flickr, iphoto and getty images, ordinary people like us get to share their captures, so you find something new every day.

The first photographer that comes to mind and why?

Hmmm that’s difficult but I guess Yann Arthus-Bertrand comes to mind. He’s the guy who travels with a balloon across the countryside and takes pictures from above. He always comes to our minds, when taking pictures down from rooftops or balconies. But to be honest, it’s difficult so say because like I said above: In times like these there are many talented photographers…

Best piece of advice you have been given?

My mum always did her things as they came. She learned all the photo-techniques by herself. And well, advice I have been given, always came from my mum. One thing that I still think about today is: “Don’t be shy to photograph people. If you can’t get over that, you won’t be able to get good shots.”

What advice would you give a photographer getting started?

It’s most important to get an eye for detail. Often small things on a picture matter the most. Our advice for great travel pictures is: “Get up early in the morning or take pictures in the late afternoon. That’s when the light is best and in early mornings many places are still without visitors and nobody disrupts the area. Even huge touristic spots are deserted just after sun rises.”

A natural arch on the Leh-Manali Highway in Kashmir, India.

If you weren’t a photographer, what would you want to be? Why?

Since travelling is an expensive hobby/job, photography isn’t our only income:) I currently work at an event agency and my mum has a school buffet. If we get asked to shoot something specific at a specific time of the year, we manage to do that as well somehow. In our holidays we try to travel to foreign places to get those pictures that just “stand out”.

Additional Information & Links

We would like to thank Cookiesound for the amazing pictures and taking the time to speak with us. If you would like to see more of their work, you can visit the website or find them on Flickr. Links below:

Cookiesound on Flickr

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