Max Rive / Member Interview


The Netherlands

An adventurer from Europe with a camera. Born and raised in the flat country of the Netherlands, Max Rive visited the high mountains of Switzerland for the first time at the age of five. Max started taking photos in 2008 just to document a mountain trip he took between studies. Today, he travels around the world to Chile, Argentina, Greenland, Sweden, Scotland, Norway, and New Zealand to capture unique scenes with mountains being the subject. Max Rive was the International Landscape Photographer of the Year in 2017.

What inspired you to become a photographer?

If I had to point to a part of my life that inspired me to pick up a camera, it would be the time I spent as a child hiking in the mountains with my family.

I remember the first time I went hiking. I was fascinated with the mountains, and can’t begin to describe the feeling of seeing the Swiss Alps for the first time. It was a feeling I didn’t want to forget. Moreover, it was a feeling I wanted to somehow contain so I could enjoy it later. Photography has allowed me to do just that.

As I grew up and went on more outdoor adventures, I always had a camera with me. I collected images of interesting scenes I found along the way, and the more photos I took, the more I realized that I wanted to turn my hobby into a profession.

Photography gives me more satisfaction than I can describe. Today, it’s not just a job or a career; instead, I find that I’m every bit as passionate about finding and photographing incredible landscapes as I was all those years ago as a child.

Every moment in life, whether it’s good or bad, will come to pass. But why not capture those good moments in a photo so you can enjoy them later? That’s what I love about photography and what keeps me inspired to this day.

Tell us about your first photo that really validated your interest as a photographer.

Back in 2013, I bought my very first DSLR (a Nikon D800e) and decided to go to Iceland for a solo hiking trip. I was hiking the Thorsmork as a test to see if I had what it took to be a professional photographer.

On my first day there, I climbed a mountain and a small river caught my eye because it meandered it’s way right to where the sun would set. I set up my gear and prepared to take a self-portrait to balance the composition and add a little scale to the shot.

I was lucky because the weather cooperated completely, and there were some clouds in the valley that added nice drama to the photos. The photos I got at that spot made me realize that I could be a pro photographer. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a scary thought to become a professional, but I’m glad I persevered. This is an amazing job to have and I’m inspired each day by other photographers to continue my work.

This is the photo.

What do you enjoy photographing the most?

I love taking photos of unexpected moments in wild places. Mountains are my favorite subject of all, particularly those that are far away from tourists, civilization, and human infrastructure. The feeling of freedom and adventure that comes with seeking out off-the-beaten-path locations is intoxicating, and I can’t get enough of it!

What has been your proudest moment as a photographer?

My proudest photography moment came in 2017 when I won the award for the International Photo of the Year and the Photographer of the Year. It was truly humbling to win and validated my hard work and dedication to this craft.

How do you feel photography has impacted the way you see the world?

I’ve been fortunate to travel all over the world with my camera, and the biggest impact that photography has had on my worldview is to help me realize that the images that society and the media push out of some places are not at all in line with how they are in reality. In that regard, I think photography has helped me see the world for what it actually is, not some idealized notion of what it should be.

What do you see photographers doing today, that if done differently tomorrow, would improve their success?

I think if photographers want to improve their work, they need to do their own thing. There’s a fine line between finding inspiration in the work of others and merely imitating it. Likewise, too many photographers are too afraid to think outside the box and rely too much on photography rules. If you want to stand out from the crowd and create photographs that are unique, you have to be willing to find your own way and develop your own photography style.

To get your creative eye focused, where do you draw your inspiration from?

I get most of my inspiration from my dreams, my inabilities, my strengths and weaknesses, and all the emotions I feel. Being a dreamer and thinker allows you to think more creatively, and that creative thinking is a huge asset to have when you’re trying to make eye-catching photos that no one has ever seen before.

What is your best photography-related tip?

Even though it takes time and people want to see results immediately, it’s important to invest in developing your own style and become a photographer all to your own. If you do that, you will be better off than you would as ‘’just another landscape photographer.’’ There is only one you and already a zillion others...which one would you rather be?

Your photos look amazing, what are some must-use tools in your post-processing workflow?

My primary must-have post-processing tool is a contrast control technique that I developed myself. It has made my images far more dramatic and has had a positive impact on my work the last couple of years.

I see a lot of pros using Luminar. What do you like most about this software?

I think the ease of use of Luminar , especially its built-in filters, is my favorite part. I always use a combination of the “Details Enhancer,” the “Orton Effect,” and the “Soft Glow” to give my photos their signature dreamy look. When I have light coming from the side, I sometimes add a little bit of the ‘’Sun Rays’’ filter. What’s so cool about that filter is that you can position the sun rays precisely - even outside the frame or behind elements in the shot - which gives it a much more natural look.

What are some ‘must have’ items in your camera bag?

I don’t have a traditional camera bag and instead carry a backpack. But obviously the primary must-have item in my bag is my camera!

If you were stuck on a deserted island, what is the ONE photography book you would want to have with you?

If I were stuck on a deserted island, I wouldn’t want a book. Instead, I’d want to grab my camera, explore, and take photos.

What camera do you use the most?

My primary camera these days is a Nikon D850

What is your all-time favorite lens?

My favorite lens has to be the NIKKOR 14-24 f/2.8G ED IF

What is your favorite post-processing software?

I actually have two favorites...I use Photoshop and Luminar for each photo

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