Tag Archives: St Moritz
Many of the destinations that I photograph are justifiably popular with tourists. I can’t blame them; they’re drawn to the same beauty that I am, after all. But sometimes, especially when I’m working, I like to escape the crowds. I like to see a place as it is, free of crowds and free of the commercialization that often intrudes into beautiful places.
St. Moritz is actually a small town; its fame far exceeds its size. But we were there just on the cusp of the main ski season, a time when the number of visitors to St Moritz may triple the town’s population. I quickly found that one of the best times to photograph the city was in early morning, before many of the guests were up and about.
I wanted to capture St Moritz — the actual, authentic place. I walked to a different part of the town, away from the center where most of the hotels and resorts were located. Then I walked a short distance away, just enough to give some perspective on St Moritz and its relationship with its environment.
From that vantage point, I could see the true scale of the mountains that surround St Moritz. It was the Alps — formidable and breathtaking — that gradually turned a pilgrimage spot into a holiday destination. From my spot just outside the town, I could see how tiny and insignificant it all is when juxtaposed against the mountains. It’s a theme I return to often in my work — our small place in the world — but viewing a still – sleeping St Moritz against the backdrop of the Alps, it wasn’t difficult to find myself thinking along those lines again.
I set up my tripod, and while St Moritz slowly came to life, I framed a shot that captured the majestic scale of the Alps.
As a photographer, I am almost always working. Even when I’m “officially” on vacation with my family, I can’t help but be drawn to beautiful, interesting places. I always have a camera with me, so even my down time usually results in at least a few photographs.
My family and I made a trip to St Moritz for the holidays. Skiing is one of my favorite pastimes to share with my family, and St Moritz lives up to its reputation as a beautiful winter retreat.
But St Moritz is, as we quickly learned, much more than a winter ski destination. In St Moritz, it’s possible to experience any number of weather extremes — snow, storms, mist, and even sun — over the space of a day. Every day seemed to bring totally different weather than we’d had the day before. And there were more brilliantly sunny days than most people would ever expect.
In fact, the large number of bright, sunny days in St Moritz is one of the things that made the resort. For centuries, it was a popular spot for religious pilgrims who made the trek to drink from the area’s mineral springs. Pilgrims who made the journey to the springs were granted absolution from their sins. It was only in the mid-1800s that a pioneering entrepreneur, Caspar Badrutt, realized the unique appeal of a place that offered snow-covered natural beauty with 300 days of sunlight each year. Badrutt invited a handful of English friends to St Moritz during the winter, promising that if they loved the place as he expected, they could stay at his expense. If they didn’t like it, he would reimburse their travel expenses. The English tourists came, and as Badrutt expected, they loved the place, and a major tourist destination was born.
Like Badrutt’s English guests, I find the juxtaposition of snow and sun strikingly beautiful. But the most beautiful days in St Moritz were the ones when we had a snow storm followed by brilliant sunlight. The light that fell over St Moritz on those days — when sunlight broke through an atmosphere still heavy with snow — was enchanting and bathed the town in a fairy tale glow.
A view like this one, taken over St Moritz as the sun broke through the snow, is the reason that my family vacation became a semi-working holiday.