My name is Monika Seyffer, I was born and raised in Switzerland and spent 16 years living in the United States before moving back to my home in Zürich. I am a Pilates Instructor and mother of five grown children.
Photography is my passion, not my profession but I’m proud to say that I have won some local contests with my latest latest achievement being a third prize winner of the Swiss Photo Club earlier this year. I cannot say that I am a landscape, portrait or any specific photographer – everything out there fascinates me.
I was a very curious child, always looking around and never walking straight. I often bumped into lamp-poles or parking meters until my father decided to give me a camera to capture what I saw. I took my camera to every school trip, vacation etc. and created albums. It is like writing a diary. I can still see myself where I stood taking the image, can feel the fresh air in the early morning hours and the sensation when the sun rose.
I feel my pictures – I don’t just take them.
My five children gave me enough food for the camera for many years. I captured their first smiles, steps, first day of school, birthday parties, vacation etc. and created many albums. My children are all grown up now and live all over the world and that’s when I started travelling. My camera is always with me and my diary keeps growing.
As mentioned I got a camera from my father when I was ten years old, a very small one but perfect for that time. With my first salary I purchased a DSLR, started working in the dark room and the fascination began. Ironically, I earned my first salary working for my father’s company, who was the main distributor of Sony Switzerland at that time, and purchased my first Sony Camera SLT-A33 in 2010, which I still treasure as a sentimental value. Ever since I am taking images with Sony cameras.
Current Camera setup – I have the new Sony a7RIII plus various lenses: Sony Zeiss 24-70 f4., Sony Zeiss 16 -35 f4, Sony Macro 90 f2.8, Sony 70-200 G f4 and Sony 100-400mm GM f4.5-5.6.
The weight, size and incredible technology of this camera convinced me the most. The images are crystal clear thanks to the 42 megapixels. I like the mirrorless cameras as you can see the image through the viewfinder exactly how the sensor sees it.
The battery life of the 7rii was very hard to deal with and I often used three batteries in one day. Now with the new 7riii one battery lasts forever. This is a huge advantage, especially if you travel to places where you cannot charge batteries overnight.
I have to say I love to travel, discover the world and see all the amazing things that are out there. With my camera I capture the way I see and feel them and when I look at my pictures I am right back there in my mind and enjoying the travel again.
I have done some amazing trips in the past years and love to have them be on the adventurous side – like travelling along the silk road through Uzbekistan, visiting the Gobi desert and Eagle Festival in Mongolia or trekking through the Namib desert.
I also took a trip through Vietnam and Cambodia and a photo tour to Japan.
I visited many States in the US and saw some of Canada and Alaska.
As a history, ancient buildings and architect lover, I have visited almost all of the main capitals in Europe.
The trip to Portugal
I have heard so many wonderful things and seen so many beautiful pictures of Portugal that I decided to visit Lisbon. I am always trying to prepare myself reading a lot about the history, where to go and what to visit. With Lisbon I was looking online for a local photographer and found Lisbon Photo. This was a perfect choice. Miguel Helfrich, the owner, knows the city and its history by heart and that was exactly what I was looking for.
Recommended places in Lisbon/Sintra
I would recommend to start from the gate at the Tejo river, where once the royals were welcomed who arrived by sea and then crossing the Palacio de Comercio, walking underneath the magnificent Augusta Arch into the ancient city. There I would take the old elevator Santa Justa to have a wonderful overview of the town and then continue to walk further down to the oldest church, Igreja de Sao Domingos, with its incredible history. After that, I would head into the Alfama district – the oldest part of Lisbon with its narrow cobblestone streets, colourful houses, and cute little cafes and bars.
In Sintra, it’s a must to visit the Pena Palace with all the different styles of architecture and colors, walking on the remaining walls of the Castelo dos Mouros and, of course, visiting the fascinating Initiation well at Quinta da Regaleira.
In Belem you can find the Torre de Belem and the amazing monument of the 33 most important people from the late middle age in Portugal, Padrão dos Descobrimentos. Then take a walk along the Tejo river, passing the architectural masterpiece Museum of Art and all the way down to the gorgeous 25 de Abril Bridge. An architectural contemporary masterpiece and a must see is the Champalimaud Foundation and, of course, the ancient Jeronimos Monastery with its beautiful church.
What to eat
I am always sticking with the local food and Portugal is famous for it’s delicious seafood. Bacalhau, Codfish is one of the most famous dishes in Portugal. There are hundred of different recipes and versions of it but Bacalhau à Brás is one of the best.
Tips and advices for a travel photographer
Always think where you are going and determine the lenses based on this. A macro lens for visiting cities is not really necessary, but if you are going out to the countryside and like to take close-up images of flowers etc., then I would take it along.
I always take my 24-70 and 16-35. The 70-200 zoom is good to catch details wherever I go – city or country. The big zoom 100-400, I would only recommend if you are shooting wild animals that you have to keep a distance from. It’s a heavier lens and you should always think how much weight you want to carry with you. Always take enough SD cards and batteries, a battery charger and adapter for the different outlets. A rain-cover for your camera can be handy, and if you are intending to do long exposure shots, a tripod is essential.
I am a minimalist when it comes to post-processing and only work in Lightroom. I try to keep pictures as they are and not have them feel too edited. I know that there are some great tools out there to work with, but it is just not my thing.
My usual workflow is taking out the shadows, adding light, luminance or saturation as needed, and using the dehazer for more effects. Sometimes I enhance the individual colours and sharpen details. That’s pretty much it!