Interview with Richard Hallman

Sometimes you see an image, and it resounds with you for a long time. Perhaps the style stands out as being unique, or the subject is beautiful, and shocking. Richard Hallman is a photographer who creates such images, especially when capturing extreme sports and extreme landscapes. We decided to get in touch with Richard, and ask him a few questions, hoping he would share some of his trade secrets….

How long have you been in the business of photography?

All my life. We had a darkroom in our house; my father’s intense love of photography was not lost on me and he taught me early on how to develop film and print black and white prints. I had free rein and a couple friends of mine and I would spend hours tinkering around in the darkroom in complete awe of our otherwise amateur creations…. I’ve done many different things in my life – most recently a Trauma Nurse working in the ER… The job gave me the financial means and flexibility to travel and pursue more of my passion – Photography…

How did you go about selling your first photograph?
My first true professional sale I can’t quite remember, but it was something related to my second gallery showing and after having my first show fail to sell anything I said to myself, If I don’t sell anything this time, I’m done with this. I sold 4 pieces of art work that night. 🙂

All images belong to Richard Hallman, and have been used with his kind permission.

What initially interested you into photography?
Everything, but primarily the ability to freeze a moment in time and capture the emotion of the moment – remember the feeling of the moment is the most amazing thing…

What would you say is more important; good knowledge or good equipment?
They are both important. If you want to be the best, you have to fully educate yourself and strive to do your best, use the best materials etc, and it shows. Those who take the care to do it right stand out from the rest.

Which photographer do you look up to and why?
There are many photographers I admire and look up to – too many to count.Immediately though a couple come to mind :

A. Galen Rowell (RIP) for his ability to bring the extreme remote outdoor realm into people lives who would never have a chance to experience that for themselves.

B. Erik Aeder for his unique perspectives on water – particularly how we as humans are attached to water. From extreme water sports to his underwater portraits. It’s not just about capturing the person doing something cool – He sees the complete picture of this crazy cool environment with the element of a human brush stroke. Brilliant.

All images belong to Richard Hallman, and have been used with his kind permission.

What are the biggest challenges in the type of photography you do?
There is a certain risk verses reward every time you go out to shoot Big Wave Surfing, Ski Mountaineering, Kiteboarding, or any other activity where you are potentially putting yourself in harms way. Weather can be a challenge and there is a constant love/hate relationship with Mother Nature.

Now that most people have a digital camera, do you notice less work coming your way as people now think they can do it themselves?
From a business standpoint it can be frustrating – here’s some statistical data from 2010 regarding images on the web.

  • 5 billion: Photos hosted by Flickr (September 2010).
  • 3000+: Photos uploaded per minute to Flickr.
  • 130 million: At the above rate, the number of photos uploaded per month to Flickr.
  • 3+ billion: Photos uploaded per month to Facebook.
  • 36 billion: At the current rate, the number of photos uploaded to Facebook per year.

I also have many friends who are photographers complaining about new “Pro” photographer being added daily to compete for our dollars… In the end though – all you can do is focus on yourself and what you are passionate about – once you focus on what someone else is doing – you have lost…

All images belong to Richard Hallman, and have been used with his kind permission

What goal are you working towards within your photography and when will you know you have reached it?
I would like to have photographed every big wave surf spot on the planet. That’s one goal. Broader goals include using my photography to help save the planet.

The first one is probably a more attainable goal, although both are very important to me.

Do you have a favourite image?
Oohhh, favorite Image? I have many, but the one that first pops into my head is the shot of Illumination Rock on the south side of Mt Hood that I captured while climbing alone on a late spring day… I felt like I was the only person on a crazy planet. The image won first place at the 2009 Banff Mountain Film Festival – Mountain Landscape.

Any advice for those aspiring to follow a similar path?
‘Do what you love and love what you do’; that should be your mantra. Here is a excerpt from an article I wrote about my passion for photography, which sums it up pretty well, I think.

“In the end, I know I have been shaped by the adventures I have had more than I have shaped them. Being caught in near death avalanches, battling big waves, and negotiating windsurf fins as they whiz by my head at 30 mph has given me the greatest gifts of experience and have humbled me in ways I can’t describe. Either way, as a photographer you can feel like a caged tiger constantly trying to control your camera settings, controlling the light, controlling composition, or controlling something. Our lives can not be controlled, stymied or caged, yet we allow life to limit our dreams. If only we had the courage to dream bigger – bigger than our selves. In the end, the one thing we can’t control is life, but find the courage in the light of an open heart and it will help guide you to creatively exercise your inner passion.” Richard Hallman /

Thank you so much Richard for taking the time out of your busy schedule to chat with us.

Contact Richard:,

All images contained within this blog post are copyright protected © 2001 Richard Hallman and The intellectual property may not be downloaded, copied, reproduced, manipulated, published, stored, or altered in any way without the expressed written consent of Richard Hallman and

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