An Exclusive Interview With MANFRED BAUMANN
Lens Magazine|November 2021
My grandfather had won many photo competitions; he dealt with artistic b/w photography. We grew up in the mountains of Austria, and his work later reminded me a lot of Ansel Adams' landscapes artistic style. He gave me my first camera, a Praktika 1000, and I still have it. Without him, I might never have gotten into photography!
José Jeuland

Manfred Baumann was born in Vienna in 1968. The Leica photographer has since presented his works worldwide in exhibitions, books, and calendars. His photographs are displayed in museums as well as in international galleries. Over the past years, Baumann has taken his place among the most influential photographers of our time. Baumann created projects for some of the largest and most influential brands internationally, including Gucci, Adobe, BMW, Loreal, Swarovski, Vogue, Nike, Sony, Lufthansa, and many more.

Baumann is an Ambassador of the iconic camera brand Leica; he is also a frequent collaborator with National Geographic. It is a pleasure publishing an interview with such a magnificent photographer!

JOSÉ JEULAND: Thank you for this interview, Manfred. Can you share with us your youth? As I understood, you have graduated high school at a very young age and started working at the age of sixteen. How did this affect your social communication and feeling at the time?

MANFRED BAUMANN: I have loved photography since I was ten years old but never saw it as a job; it was more a hobby. I looked for a job at an early age, so I could afford the equipment. I wanted to do photography as a sideline.

I got to know many nice people, and I love people, so I learned to listen to them. This approach later became noticeable in portrait photography. Also, as a retail salesman, I learned that it is not enough to understand your craft but also to market yourself properly.

J.J.: How did you start with photography? Your grandfather was a professional photographer and also a great inspiration for you. What kind of photography was he doing? What was his artistic style?

M. B.: My grandfather had won many photo competitions; he dealt with artistic b/w photography. We grew up in the mountains of Austria, and his work later reminded me a lot of Ansel Adams' landscapes artistic style. He gave me my first camera, a Praktika 1000, and I still have it. Without him, I might never have gotten into photography!

J.J.: How did you start your journey in photography? What was the key point of your career and success? Was it more accessible at the time (Compared to today's challenges)?

M. B.: I didn't find it easy, more contrary. First, I learned everything myself; I didn't study photography or was an apprentice. Realized that I wanted to do it full-time when I read a biography by Helmut Newton, but I didn't know where to start then. How I found my customers, models, assignments,... There was no internet or email. So you had to go to each customer yourself or send my portfolio over there. I believe that every time has its advantages and disadvantages.

J.J.: You seem to be a very busy photographer; you conduct photography workshops, publish photography books, and do exhibitions. How do you organize your time? Do you have a team with full-time employees? Do you have an agent?

M. B.: I once had an agency and an office, but the constant change of employees, many appointments, meetings had almost brought me to burnout. Since my wife has taken over my management for nearly ten years, it is much better. She understands me best; she doesn't need to consult with me all the time. She has her personal assistant, and I mine on the set, so I concentrate entirely on my art & photography!

J.J.: We can see on your website that your wife Nelly Baumann seems to be very present on set or in your project. Does she work with you? If yes, what is her role?

M. B.: Nelly is my muse, my sunshine, my wife, my agent, and not only that, she made the Makeup 99% of all models and celebrities I have ever photographed. To this day, I still don't know how she manages all of this; I love her like crazy and this for more than 25 years!

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