Manfred Baumann was born in Vienna in 1968. The Leica photographer has since presented his works worldwide in the form of 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.
He lives in L.A. and Vienna, and works worldwide, having already photographed such greats as Sandra Bullock, William Shatner, Jack Black, Natalie Portman, Martin Sheen, Lionel Richie, Olivia Newton John, Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Juliette Lewis, Angelina Jolie and Evander Holyfield, as well as many international top models.
We spoke with Manfred to get his personal take on portrait photography and find out why he loves shooting with the Leica SL.
How did you first get into photography?
I received my first photo camera from my grandfather when I was 10 years old.
You shoot in both black and white and color but which of these mediums do you prefer for studio portraiture? What do you see as the biggest differences between them? How does your process differ?
I love to take pictures at different locations and always bring a studio setting with me so that I have several options. Studios in themselves are boring. On location I can incorporate the surroundings, such as hotel suites, castles, houses, villas but also garages, attics, warehouses or simply the outdoors. A black or white background I can then hang anywhere.
You’ve been shooting celebrities for some time now. How is it working with some of the biggest names in Hollywood?
The first international star I photographed was Sir Roger Moore. I was very nervous at the time but there have been so many now. I’ve stopped counting them anymore. As a professional photographer, you’re also a director and in some ways a bit of a psychologist. So I’ve learned how to talk and work with them. I know now how I have to behave towards my subjects to get what I want – a great photo!
How does your approach differ depending on whether you’re shooting models for editorial or celebrities?
I have always tried to tell stories with my photography. In some ways, photography is like my second language. Whether I work with models or celebrities, everyone has a story to tell and by listening to them I can get the best images possible. Only then do I start to take pictures. Sometimes there is more time, sometimes less, but I see no real difference between the two. I also love to create a family feeling on set with my wife and muse, Nelly.
Looking back over your career to date, which shot are you most proud of? And which shoot really sticks in your mind?
Of course, that shoot with Sir Roger Moore was special but there are so many stories to tell by now. For example […]