Aerial Photographer Captures Seychelles Archipelago at Dawn

Award-winning fine art, architecture and landscape photographer Kevin Krautgartner travelled across the Indian Ocean, where beauty is in abundance, for his new series entitled First Light On The Islands.

Palm tree beaches, coral reefs and intricate rock formations – Kevin’s photographs of The Seychelles present a world of thriving natural life in vivid early morning sun. The unique rock formations are what drew him to The Seychelles and from there Kevin captured aerial photographs that detail the complex interaction between land and sea. In doing so, Kevin sheds new light on a tropical getaway the best of us can only daydream about.


We sat down with the photographer to hear more about his work and travels.

The PLUS: What draws you to aerial photography of coastlines?
Kevin Krautgartner:
I really like the interaction of water, sand, rocks and palms. All of these elements have strong and specific colours. It’s just amazing to see them from the air. On my usual research, I stumbled upon those many Islands in the Indian Ocean. The unique rock formations there make me keep want to keep exploring them.

TP: Have you been in East Africa before?
It was my second trip to Africa. I have only been to South Africa once, a few years before this trip.


TP: Tell us a little bit about your trip in The Seychelles. What did you experience?
The Seychelles are amazing! I have to say that I never had the chance to see such beautiful beaches before, and there are a lot of them! I was also fascinated by the way people are living on some of the Seychelles. Some Islands are so small that there are no cars allowed and you will find just one small main road.

TP: The Seychelles is an archipelago of 115 islands. How many islands were you able to photograph?
As I only had one week for the whole trip, I was not able to visit as many islands as I wanted to. So I was on the three “main” islands which, in my eyes, is okay for the short time. If I had more time, I would have loved to visit some of the more remote islands. Although, some of those smaller islands are private property.


TP: Shadows play a big role in photography, especially in these images. What time of day did you set out to photograph the coast and why?
Landscape photography is all about lighting conditions. Shooting in the early morning hours is a key factor in most of my photos. In my First Light On The Islands series I wanted to push things a bit more so I tried to get the most lighting contrasts I was able to capture. There is this special feeling when the first sun rays are hitting a beautiful coastline in the morning. The strong shadows of the rock formations, the glowing palms and the turquoise water is just amazing from an aerial view.

TP: What equipment was needed in order to take the aerial photographs?
I usually prefer to take my aerial photos out of a helicopter or a small plane. But for this series an aircraft like this isn’t the best tool to get my shots. As I wanted to capture the coastline from a very near distance, I was optimally equipped with a proper drone. The reason for the low altitude was to give the viewer a closer relationship to the subject.


TP: Did you already have the images you wanted to capture in mind before the trip, or did the ideas come once you were there?
When I plan a shoot on a specific location I usually try to explore it as good as possible on satellite images like from Google Earth for example. But, when I’m on location, the landscapes mostly offer completely different motives that I expected. So, I like to get up in the air and see what I will get.

TP: What does travel photography mean to you?
I love to travel and I love to take photos. For me the best way is when I can combine those two passions, but I also have to say that my photography projects are not the usual travel photography. In my case I arrange my projects and after that I plan my travel around that project, not the other way around.


TP: I see you photograph a lot of landscape and architecture, what attracts you to these two types of photography?
I really like to take time to photograph a subject. Therefore, I mostly shoot stills. Somehow I got an addiction to landscape and architecture photography. It started with interiors, I was always looking for strong lines and shapes in my photos. Later on, I got more and more into aerial photography. I think the unusual straight-down angle also has a strong graphical attitude.

TP: On a lighter note: if you could travel anywhere right now, where would that be?
Well I think it would be Patagonia or Australia. Both have such unique landscapes!