Manfred Baumann is world renown for his photography. The talented Viennese artist talked to Lomography about his past, present and future as well as what inspires his work and some words of wisdom. Check out the interview below!
You have said your grandfather is one of your greatest inspirations and the first true supporter of your craft. What advice did he share with you that would be valuable to any photographer?
The world doesn’t need any new photographers, because nowadays you happen to be one or at least call yourself one very easily, so there are a lot of them! To really be successful it is important to explore the “new” and not to get lost in concentrating on the theory!
You started photographing professionally around the same time Lomography was founded and in the same city. Tell us a little bit about the art scene in Vienna during the 90’s.
Vienna is an inspiring city: narrow streets and beautiful art buildings from the imperial period. Men and woman from every area are influenced by the architecture and by artists like Mozart, Schubert, Goethe or Schiller.
What artists inspire you and your work? Who has been your biggest influence?
Mostly I’ve been inspired by Helmut Newton, Albert Watson, Herb Ritts, Ansel Adams, Yousuf Karsh!
You started your career with a venue in Vienna doing simple photography jobs. How did you transition from portrait photography to art photography?
For many years i have been taking pictures of models for magazines like Playboy and FHM, until I noticed that this is just not enough for me. I wanted to improve myself and to tell stories with my visual language by creating timeless pictures. I think I’m still stuck in this phase ;-)
You mainly focus on fine nude art photography, celebrity portraits and landscape photography. How do you approach each of these different types of photography?
The landscape photography is my calm anchor – that’s the style of photography, where I can rest and release myself. I always end up at a new place and try to take pictures, which are far away from what you’ve seen on picture postcards or other travel photos. Just as I see the world myself!
The world of the rich and famous is one that is very fascinating for many people just as for myself. You plunge into the world of musicians, actors, politicians and sport personalities, you make friends and experience great stories. To name two examples we got invited by Toni Curtis to have dinner with his family and by Gene Simmons as well, who invited us to his house.
To portray celebrities means to highlight the star by using the right technic of lights, not to influence his character (which is the difference to nude photography). It’s like making a movie. You direct and create scenarios, which leave the door wide open for interpretation.
You have worked with international celebrities such as John Malkovich, Sofia Milos and many more, what is your most memorable celebrity shoot? Tell us all about it.
I will never forget the shooting with Sir Roger Moore, the first international celebrity, whom I took photos of! We shot in Dubrovnik! I remember it like it was yesterday, I was really nervous and edgy! Once we had met, I knew why he is called Sir. By now he is a very cherished friend, who respects my work like I do his.
Now on to the technical aspects of your work. What gear do you use for fine nude art photography, celebrity portraits and landscape photography each and why?
One of my basic principles is that a technically perfect shot doesn’t guarantee a great photo. To me equipment is not of first importance but I prefer to work with my partners Nikon, Hensel and California Sunbounce.