Helmut Hirler, born in 1954, is part of an unbroken tradition of bold pioneers, who for centuries attempted to describe the earth’s strangeness and beauty. In 1973 Helmut Hirler finished his apprenticeship with the degree in photography. The further education at the Bayrische Staatslehranstalt for Photography leads him to the masters degree in 1980. Since 1979 he has been working as head tutor at the Photographic Department of the Polytechnic at Bad Saulgau, Germany.
The Photographer Hirler relates his long, solitary tours in his panoramic images. They often lead him to southern regions; the Asian Pacific region is one of his primary destinations. But he also finds space in his work, which is regularly honored with exhibitions, books, and calendar editions, for the wooded landscapes of his native southern Germany – almost as much as for sprawling deserts, hidden river valleys, and venerable Asian temple complexes.
Urbane photographer Helmut Hirler takes his motorcycle, his panorama camera in his backpack, for the routes he nowadays feels to be short, like from the Allgaeu, Germany to the Spanish mountains. Yet the ever-new search for far-flung natural and cultural landscapes also tempts him.
Hirler has also anchored part of his life and work in New Zealand; high-ranking galleries here display his images,too. The true reason for his love of New Zealand, however, lies not only in his success but also in the artist’s temperament. He calls the best thing about a “one-in-a-century day” being under an open sky with a camera, alone, “not a single person far and wide.”
Hirler takes a lot of time for his photographic journeys to new regions. Hirler had a particular camera in his luggage. The heavy Technorama with a 6x17cm negative format captures images on black-and-white film – only four shots per roll – in hardly beatable brilliance. He often uses infrared materials and perfected filter combinations in order to convey a landscape’s strong sense of drama. In doing so, Hirler reinforces his encounters with nature in his shots, continues the dialogue in the darkroom, and only then, when it truly speaks to him, renders it in a photograph of the finest gray tones.
(Text shortened from Horst Kloever for the LUMAS galleries.)