thomas ott photography

Exclusive Interview with Action Photographer Thomas Ott

Interview with Thomas Ott by Alex Fox

We get lots of photography submissions. Being one of the world largest kiteboarding brands we have seen lots of photos from lots of places. Some of it is decent, some of it isn’t… thats just the nature of the beast. Every so often we receive an outlier, something pretty significant and ahead of the curve. Tom Ott is ahead of that curve. Tom is known for his breathtaking scenic kiteboarding photography. Based in the unlikely country of Austria, Tom has given us such a refreshing change of pace from the imagery that graces the covers of the majority of the kiteboarding magazines. Read on to find out more from the man behind the lens.


AF: Hey Tom, thanks for taking the time to do this! How long have you been shooting photos?

TO: I have been doing sports photography for about 10 years, but only for 3 years with professional equipment.

AF: One of my favorite things about your photography is that it seems like the environment is the primary focus and that the rider is almost as captivated by their surroundings as we are. There is really an exploration aspect to them.
The Salzkammergut in Austria is certainly one of the most beautiful places in the world. The high cliffs on the lake are always very impressive for kiters and photographers. Only 3km from my hometown is one of the best snow kitespots of Austria. I am very happy to live here.

AF: Do you shoot just for fun or do you shoot photos professionally as well? 

TO: I’m a locomotive driver (engineer) so taking pictures is just a very expensive hobby of mine.

AF: You also seem to shoot less “pros” and more everyday riders. Thats always cool to see. Are they just your local kite crew and friends?

TO: Austria in Europe in a very small country with only a few professionals. I mostly take pictures of my friends and local kiters, but I’m glad if I can take a picture of a professional 2 times a year. Where a stylish grab often looks better than a complicated handle pass

AFCan you tell us a little bit about where you typically shootAustria looks like one of the most amazing places for kiteboarding photography.

TO: I live 25 km east of Salzburg in Austria/Europe and from there it is not far to theSalzkammergut. The Salzkammergut offers about 10 lakes where you can kite. Eachlake operates on a different wind system, thermal, strong fronts, east, south and west winds. The lake Traunsee offers 2 thermal winds a morning wind and a wind in the afternoon. 90% of the time the wind is only around 10-15 knots. In the summer I normally drive3 hours to Lake Reschensee. This spot lies high up in the mountains in South Tyrol / Italy and offers super strong thermal wind. My friend and Slingshot Team Rider Fabian Oberhofer lives directly on the lake so I can stay with him and take a bunch of photos with him as well. In spring and autumn I often go to the Adriatic Sea in Italy about 4 hours away by car. Here you will find strong east and south wind and my friend Massimiliano Sup-pan lives there. He is a professional kitesurfer and works at Slingshot Italy who rips, and I work with him on photos as well!.

AF: If you are always shooting, do you still get a chance to ride?

TO: I only shoot when the light and colors are good. So I can go kiting quite a bit myself. This of course makes me happy and at 50 Years old I can still do some backmobs and big jumps.

AF: From the photos i can tell that Austria must get some lighter wind. How has foiling changed your local spot not only for kiting but also for shooting?

TO: Foiling has revolutionized kite surfing, now we can fly small kites haha… The number of kite days have now tripled due to the foiling and I can now photograph kitesurfers in places where it was  simply not possible before.

AF: Anything else? Whats next for Mr. Tom Ott?!

TO: What’s next? Nothing more, I traveled with my wife over 50 countries in the world. I am now 50 years old and enjoy my life.