In the realm of landscape photography, there are artists who possess an uncanny ability to capture the essence of nature with precision and patience. Olti Permeti, who I’d like to call the “Photography Sniper,” has given us many inspiring captures around Albania and seems to be on the hunt for the next great one. Armed with a camera and an unwavering determination to reach his visual goals, Olti has many stories to share about his travels, unexpected events and his relationship with his camera, that’s almost always with him. I’ve tried to uncover a few layers of his experiences in this exclusive interview.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Meet Olti Permeti!
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1.Traveling to remote places can be transformative. How have these experiences changed your perspective on the world?
I think that more than the distance, it’s the experience that affects transformation and the point of view. The experiences do not occur within the comfort zone. The farther away the comfort zone, the newer and more unknown things you experience. Travel removes expectations, prejudices. I prefer the trips that are active, sometimes including some small danger such as the Arctic weather. They can be tiring but they make you stronger.
2.Can you share a memorable story or encounter from your travels that profoundly influenced your approach to landscape photography?
The passion for the landscape has always been in me. My father often took me with him when painting landscapes in nature. He had always with him the easel, the canvas, the colours, a full painting suitcase. I’m like him, but a more compact and lazier version 🙂 In the recent years I began to take the landscape photography a little more seriously. Nearly 6 years ago I invested in the equipment that were suitable to my goals. It has been an impetus to get out of the routine, the noise and the chaos of the city, to be in contact with nature. It’s therapy in itself. I often traveled alone, without knowing what I could photograph. Made a plan in advance with google maps and other helpful applications. I’ve left at night and arrived at night too. I have failed often, but it is worth the experience.
3.Landscape photography often involves early mornings and late nights. Can you recall a specific sunrise or sunset that left you in awe and why it stands out?
I can remember many of them, but one of the most special was at the peak of Korabi, while descending from the top of the Percllof to Radomire. Seeing the top of Albania’s highest massive lightened by sunset, under the effect of the alpenglow effect, is something that you don’t see often.
4.Your photos and trips around Albania’s spicy destinations are numerous. Where did you feel the most welcomed by the locals?
I have recently fallen in love with Berat. Specifically with the hostels in the castle. Hospitality, tranquility and the traditional food have made it one of my favorite places. For only 50-60 minutes by car you can try an agro-tourism, their organic food, enjoy nature and the canyons.
5.Is there a place in Albania that inspires you from the pictures on social media and makes you want to go and leave your trace?
I have seen many beautiful photos of Bovilla lake under fog, but still not what I expected. I have been there often, but not at dawn time. I have always neglected it since you need to wake up early, but soon, in the right season I plan to realize the photograph I have imagined.
6.Beyond the visual aspects, how do you try to convey the emotional or spiritual essence of a place through your photography?
Shooting is only one part of the process. I usually explore the place a little further. I try to find the right spot and composition. Depending on the subject, I decide if one shot, long exposure is enough, or if I will use some other technique to bring the image as I imagine it. Then there is the part of editing where I try to highlight or eliminate details and to somehow give it the atmosphere that I experienced myself.
7.Photographers often talk about “chasing the light.” Can you share a time when you had to be incredibly patient to capture the perfect lighting conditions, and was it worth the wait?
Outdoor photography requires patience. There have been times where I’ve just stopped the car and taken the picture and it turned out very well; there have been times where I’ve waited over 4 hours to capture a sunset and then I got a cold and didn’t get the photo I wanted. I can share a story of 4 years ago in Divjake. At the Karavasta National Park, there is a wooden bridge that unfortunately it’s disappearing eventually. I had planned the photo in advance, I arrived in the afternoon, there, among the bushes and trees, I had everything ready, I was just waiting for the moment of sunset. I was with my cousin who couldn’t wait to leave. We may have been standing there for over 2 hours. At one point I turn to my cousin and see that his hood was full of black dots. I asked him what was that on his head. “They are mosquitoes, he tells me, they are on your head too.” I started shaking all over, put on the hood of my jacket and I took the last shots while it was getting dark and left. The sunset that day was one of the most beautiful I have seen and photographed.
8.Can you share a story of a challenging or dangerous moment and the photo you have taken?
Berizhdol stables, Lepushe, the end of December. 4 of us set out to reach the peak of Berizhdol, amongst us is a professional guide. The weather seemed perfect for hiking: there was snow and a light breeze. I captured some special photos there, just before the snow storm. As we approached the peak the weather changed, the wind was between 60-70 kmh, and the temperature had dropped below -20°. We stayed close to each other because the footsteps in the snow disappeared within seconds and there was no visibility. Everywhere you turned your head it was just white. We gave up on our plan, then started the descent and found shelter in a cabin nearby. It was the only salvation for the moment. Inside, everything was covered with snow, but at least it protected us from the wind. My beard was frozen and stuck to my scarf. Everything was frozen. As soon as the situation calmed down a bit, we left the hut. At this moment the hands came into contact with the cold air again and the pain in the fingers was so strong that it seemed as if they would be torn from the hand and hang inside the gloves. Anyway, apart from this pain, we had no problems, and no one got a cold. The photo I took there is printed and it is hanging on the wall. Every time I see it, I remember the icy wind.
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9.Some photographers have a muse or a favorite place where they often return. Do you have such a place?
I like Porto Palermo. It has a special, almost extraterrestrial kind of calmness and energy. I visit it often regardless of the season, especially in the spring and during the months of September-October for some night photography. The milky way is very beautiful there.
10.Nature is unpredictable. Can you recall a time when a sudden change in weather or unexpected event made you change your destination?
Destination has not changed, but my plans have failed. It happens often, it’s normal. The weather is the main factor in this genre of photography. It’s 50-50. For example, photographing the aurora borealis in Norway and hiking in Segla were my main goals. There was rain and wind for a week, except for a few moments when the weather got better during the day. I couldn’t accomplish any of my goals, but it’s a sign to come back.
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11.Let’s admit it, we’ve all taken a selfie with a breathtaking backdrop at some point. Have you ever had a selfie moment where you couldn’t resist taking one with your mobile phone?
I have, but not with my mobile phone. I have a lot of selfies taken with my camera. In some photos I position myself as a model if necessary. The human subject always makes the photo more interesting because it also shows the relationship with nature. I’m not attracted to cell phone selfies, they distort your face and make you look weird. Plus I don’t see where the cool view is when 50% of the photo or video is your head.
12.We don’t see you often in your photos, it’s even impossible to find your face on your Instagram page. Why this choice?
Since I opened the Instagram page, the goal has been to post the photos I take. Those who follow me generally appreciate these photos and nature.
13.Landscape photographers often seem like modern-day explorers. If you had to pick a fictional character as your assistant on your adventures, who would it be?
I don’t know, I can’t think of any, but it would be good if this character knew how to be patient and not get bored waiting for hours in one place.
14.If your photo camera could talk, would it complain about you or praise you?
I believe it would praise me for I haven’t broken it yet.
15.If your photo camera would have an Instagram account, what would it be called and what would be written on its Bio?
I’d say “The dirty mule” (Mushka Pisanjose) suits best. It has been everywhere, inside the snow, wet in the sea waves, in the waterfalls, dusted by sand, and yes, it works great.
16.Do you have any strange superstition or habit when you are photographing?
Absolutely not. Even if the pictures don’t turn out well, I just enjoy the moment.
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17.Have you ever been photobombed by a fellow traveler while setting up for a shot, and did it turn into an unexpected but memorable moment?
At the times and places I choose to photograph, there are usually not many people. Apart from the destinations that are overcrowded, but even there you will have to wait until it is empty, you have no choice. The advantage of long exposure photography is that even if there are people in motion, they hardly appear in the photo. One such case was a sunset in the monastery of Zvernec where there were people crossing the wooden bridge, but in the photo it looks empty. If in any photo there may be people who have appeared unintentionally, they can be eliminated during the post-process and in photoshop.
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