Award-winning action photographer and filmmaker Richard Walch has a reputation for precision and creativity that is loved by his many clients, including Audi and Red Bull.
Canon Ambassador Richard has been a passionate photographer since his mid-teens. What started as a hobby – capturing images of his snowboarding friends on the ski slopes of the Alps – quickly became his business as word spread about the quality of his action images, and soon he was taking pictures all over the globe. "The camera became my ticket to the world and it still is," he says.
Renowned for his fanatical attention to lighting, sharpness and composition, Richard is in high demand internationally as both a photographer and a filmmaker. He has received numerous awards, including Gold and Silver at the International Calendar Show for his Art of Sailing project, as well as being a finalist in the Masterpiece category at the Red Bull Illume awards.
Richard started out shooting snowboarding and skiing, and now specialises in dramatic action shots of snow and water sports.
At the age of 26, his images of journeys to the best mountain spots were published in a book, Fascination Snowboarding. Then 10 years later he published his second book, this time about the German 'dream' to win the America's Cup. Soon afterwards he was asked to shoot sailing's 'premier league' and a year later he became the official team photographer for the first German America's Cup Team. He was fascinated by the power of water and wind, and tried to shoot water like snow. "With a fresh eye to the sport and a bag full of motivation, I soon found myself at the heart of the sailing community," he says.
He is also in demand for advertising and editorial work for an impressive list of blue chip companies, including Head, Elan, Oakley, Tommy Hilfiger, Apple, Velux, Audi and BMW.
Since 2008, thanks to his willingness to embrace the video shooting capabilities of Canon EOS DSLRs, Richard has diversified from stills into shooting HD movie projects, including TV adverts and commercial work. He is always eager to find out what the latest imaging technologies have to offer and how these can influence his photography and filming in a positive way.
Notable commissions have seen him shoot a winter advertising campaign for Canon in Argentina, film the Quant electric supercar in Monaco and capture the drama of downhill World Cup skiing in Switzerland for Audi. So, with all this outdoor adventure keeping him busy, how does he choose to relax? By heli-skiing in Alaska with his friends, the Legs of Steel ski crew.
From skiing to sailing and pretty much every extreme sport in between, Richard is happiest capturing drama and emotion in ever more creative and dynamic ways. His 'Faces of Quattro' for Audi combines still portraits of national ski teams with, he says, "a flash sequence of 10 frames per second that turns the portraits into a motion film". Despite an already illustrious career, Richard still bubbles with infectious enthusiasm and says he remains "ultimately stoked" about his photography and filmmaking.
"As soon as I arrive at a location or event, I switch the mode dial on in my head," he says. "I become completely focused on the picture. I am in 100% photography mode. Photography is a rush for me now. It's like entering a zone – I have trained myself to see light and motion and I try to anticipate both. That's what drives me. Every day I am out there shooting images is a great day."
What inspired you to pursue photography as a career?
"I wanted to snowboard the best mountains all over the world, but I wasn't good enough to be become a pro snowboarder. So I united my two passions, photography and snowboarding, and that worked spot-on. It has taken me around the world several times. This sport was also perfect training for everything that followed later, because it is hard to shoot and you have to be very organised."
What is the best lesson you have learnt during your career so far?
"Try to stay focused on one genre to build your career, then you can shoot different genres. Try to understand the needs of your clients – and then deliver something on top of that."
What drives your creative ideas?
"I'm always searching for ideas and inspiration in other fields, and then I bring these ideas back to photography."
How has Canon technology helped you to shoot your projects?
"Whenever a new Canon product is presented, I try to find out what new ways of shooting it creates for me. That is a perfect way to push yourself and your photography. Since I shoot very technically, continuous technical development supports my photography."
Why do you think the Canon Ambassadors Programme is important and what do you hope to achieve by being a part of it?
"I think it is important to share the love and passion for photography and that is exactly what the Canon Ambassador Programme does. Our job is to go out in the field and find great stories. My job is to share these stories and to explain in an engaging way how I was able to capture the images, so other photographers can follow my path. We also try to make the products even more refined and to give straight feedback to the [Canon] engineers in Japan – we are the voice of photographers out there. A great camera doesn't create a good story, but it helps you to capture it."
"Take small steps, but take them consistently. Never stop, and let your passion carry you all the way. Learn as many skills as you can: photography, filmmaking, post-production, editing… but also learn how to run a company. It might sound boring, but it is essential in the long run. Most importantly, find a genre that you love and that you have a burning passion for. You need to find a state of mind where time doesn't matter because you love what you are doing; then you can achieve anything. PS Take care of your body!"