"When I was just seven years old, I told my parents that one day I would move to the Swiss Alps. In 2008 I finally made that happen." Originally from the Netherlands with no mountains in sight, Johan Peijnenburg of NiO Photography is now an Alpine nature and landscape photographer living in the Gruyère region of Switzerland. He has a strong business and economics background as well as experience in web and software design, but it's Johan's love for the outdoors that inspired his emerging business in nature photography.
Johan's interest in landscapes and nature was sparked from his travels through Europe over 15 years ago. He found himself with the urge to capture everything he saw and finally caught the "photography bug." He borrowed a friend's DSLR only to realize how much more could be accomplished. Soon after, he bought his own camera which became a loyal companion throughout his trips.
In late 2007, Johan decided it was time to make a career change to give his creative side more room to play. "I've always loved photography, so I decided to start my own business, NiO Photography. My mission is to capture the beauty of nature's landscapes, seascapes and flora," Johan says. "Mountainous areas in particular really inspire me because there's always something unexpected around the corner." Today, Johan focuses his photography on the landscapes of Switzerland and the surrounding countries.
And as his photos reveal, he has a special talent for shooting the Swiss Alps, which he calls the most beautiful mountain range in all of Europe. "My biggest challenge is to make sure that the images do justice to what I see while still revealing my own artistic style." Johan also keeps a constant eye on the weather and loves to set out just as the climate shifts. "I'm always on the hunt for the best light and dramatic alpine scenery."
To power his growing photography business and deliver images to a wide range of clients, Johan turns to PhotoShelter to help get the job done. "I originally came across PhotoShelter while looking for an integrated solution for hosting images, e-commerce, print, and blogging capabilities. PhotoShelter's features in combination with the flexibility to customize and integrate a Wordpress blog made it the very best option."
With Johan's extensive web design background, he recognizes he could have built a site himself, but that the process would have taken time away from his photography. "PhotoShelter provides me with all the features I need that would have taken me who knows how long to create," Johan says. "I also appreciate that PhotoShelter still gives me flexibility to customize and tweak designs myself. Today, I use a Graph Paper Press theme as a foundation and customize it to create a look and feel that suites my images best. I have been using the current design for a year now and am very happy with it."
Johan also appreciates the ease PhotoShelter gives him to caption and keyword his images, which ultimately enhances his SEO. "Good SEO is crucial nowadays. I only need to worry about adding the right titles, captions, and keywords to my images and PhotoShelter makes sure everything is presented to Google in the best possible way."
To get the word out and reach new potential clients, Johan considers his website his #1 marketing tool because it hosts both his PhotoShelter portfolio, blog and social media links. He's also working hard to market his work via Google+. Today, he has close to 30,000 followers, which has helped establish himself as a credible emerging nature photographer. "It's really a great platform to showcase what I do and get feedback from others in the industry," says Johan.
"Google+ has really helped me reach a broader audience. I get the feeling that social media is largely taken over the role that blogging has played for so long. People look to your social platform to stay updated with what you're working on, so I want to be sure to stay current." Johan still updates his blog posts regularly to write about his latest shoots, upcoming travel plans, as well as reviews of software, technology, and books. "In terms of workflow though, I actually consider social media as my main blog and replicate what I do there to my regular blog."
Today, while traveling through Switzerland, Johan stays loyal to Nikon and uses a Nikon D3x to capture his favorite landscapes. "My favorite lens is the 14-24 f/2.8. And man, did it hurt when I dropped that one on a stone floor a few years ago." The contents of Johan's camera bag will always depend on logistics and how much weight he's able to carry. But he points out that, "Wherever I go, I bring a tripod and various filters with me. And of course a Swiss knife!"
So what's next for Johan? In 2012, his major goals are to build and improve the diversity of his portfolio. "I still feel like I'm learning every day and as a result tend to throw away a lot of what I shot in the past each year. ‘Content is king' as they say, so I am trying to learn from constructive criticism and use it to improve." This year, Johan will also focus on narrowing his niche. "Alpine nature and landscape photography is already quite well-defined, but I would love to narrow it down a bit further to attract clients who are looking for exactly the type of work I can provide."