One of the many beauties of a passion is that it can be shared amongst people and passed on to others. So it can be seen that Peter Weimann inherited his passion for photography from his father. He was a passionate photographer who took his camera along on each of the family trips. The foundations had been laid, an interest inspired.
For a passion to be developed it usually requires a particular event, a "Eureka" moment that allows an interest or a hobby to grow into a fascination. For Peter Weimann this moment came while he was at school. As a student in a photography course he learned the basics about the equipment, taking photos, and developing them. At the end of his final year he took the class picture and, though the course teacher also took one – his classmates only wanted to buy Peter's picture.
It was a key moment in his photographic career, one that motivated and inspired him to develop and use his talent. Shortly after, Weimann decided to apply for a job as a freelance photographer with a daily newspaper, where he could expand his knowledge to the area of press photography. Journalistic photography is about using a picture to support and strengthen the events. The aesthetics of the picture must bring out the words on the page, not overlap them. It is an ideal school to sharpen a photographer's eye for what is essential in a picture.
Today, his photographs concentrate mainly on nature and travel, which are particularly close to his heart. "Nature is my second great passion", says Weimann, who is always looking for new photographic challenges. Standing still is not an option for his life, or his photography. After spending several years perfecting his technique, cooperation with a large nature protection organisation gave him his first publications in this field. Today, his photographs appear in bestselling magazines such as "National Geographic", "Outdoor Photographer", "Ranger Rick" and "Das Tier".
The quality of his work is enormously important to Peter Weimann. When it comes to the photographs themselves, or their presentation – compromise is not an option. Perhaps this is because he knows how much work and experience goes into each of his pictures, and how much would be lost if the reproduction didn't capture this.
Why did you decide to become a photographer and when did this passion develop?
I became interested in photography at school and taking photos has been an integral part of my life ever since. Photography allows me to expand my perceptions: I'm constantly searching for the beautiful and the exciting. With the camera in my hand I can be curious, I can take an interest in something different, I can communicate with people. I can work to preserve nature, whilst at the same time enjoying it. It stimulates my emotions.
Which subjects do you focus on?
In the early years I focused almost exclusively on the animal world and its many facets. I later realised, however, that it was the landscape pictures I took while traveling, not the animal pictures, which I wanted to hang on my living room walls. I began to develop an interest in landscape photography, a field that I still find exciting to this day, especially when I take a great picture.
Is there a recognisable theme within your subjects, a line that runs through your work, a direction you follow?
With animal photography I always try to capture a special moment. One of the highlights was the birth of a fawn, which I was fortunate to see, let alone photograph. After three hours and 25 films, it wasn't just the doe and the fawn who were exhausted. With landscape photography I really enjoying working with fog, lines, and structures, to bring life and depth to the pictures. The strongest style element for me is probably fog.
Visitors to the WhiteWall Art Market can admire many of your travel photographs in the landscape section. What is it about travel that attracts you?
Simply put, it satisfies my curiosity for foreign countries, people, and cultures. My journey to Myanmar (Burma) was one of the highlights. It was a journey back in time: Going 500 years into the past, with a fantastic group of people.
Does travel photography work in black & white?
Good black & white images can be found anywhere; you just need an eye for them. I find this easiest during a trip, when my head is clear to think of the range of different images. From a pure marketing perspective, black & white is not in demand amongst editors. Thankfully, this is different in the art market.
In addition to the selection of an image, the production of a work is important. What do you expect from a professional photo lab?
The laboratory must ensure a consistently high quality, which should also be matched by the delivery service. I have already had potential customers ask me to make my photos available through competitors, saving them a few euros. I decided against this, which was the correct decision I later found out. The images ordered from the competitor all had to be returned, without much success. I want to avoid these problems for my customers and I, which is why I let WhiteWall produce everything.
Now that you mention it: How important is the presentation of a photograph?
To be able to really enjoy a picture it must be presented in the right way. Even the most beautiful picture won't work if it's been attached to woodchip wallpaper using tacks. The picture must fit with its framing or mounting, the wall colour, its position on the wall, and the lighting. Options such as the passe-partout and the different frame colours and types can make a significant difference to the value.
When did you decide to submit your pictures to the WhiteWall Jury and to use the Art Market?
I decided straight away. It was like a sporting challenge: I wanted to know what others thought of my pictures.
We're pleased you saw this as a challenge! Many of your works are published in successful photography magazines such as "National Geographic" or "Outdoor photographer". How did these magazines find out about your work?
For "National Geographic" everything is done through a picture agency in the US, which has represented me successfully for many years.
"Outdoor Photographer" discovered the picture of the wolf behind the camera on the internet. They wrote to me and asked if they could use it for their "last frame". It was a great success: My homepage wasn’t even finished and I had visitors from over 70 different countries.p>
Do you have a role model in photography?
No. I do find the work of Norbert Rosing very inspiring, however, and also appreciate him very much as an individual. Art Wolfe and Robert Glenn Ketchum also take excellent pictures. I am continually finding brilliant photos taken by amateurs, which I would love to have in my archive.
Which camera equipment do you use?
I am currently working with a full-format DSLR and a collection of lenses from the same manufacturer. I had been previously been working with a medium-format as my main camera. The quality of the digital SLRs has increased so much, however, that I could happily give up the medium-format.
Which of your skills do you use the most when taking photographs?
Curiosity and patience.
What is the most important thing a photographer must be able to do?
You have to have imagination and be able to visualise an image before you see it. This is the only way you can be prepared for the perfect moment.
Is photography more a talent, or a skill that can be learned?
In the Art Market it's more a question of talent. With editorial photography skill is also particularly important. There it's less about artistic impression and more about capturing the strength of expression that supports the editorial content of a report. Through being surrounded by and involved with good pictures, including paintings, it is possible to learn a lot and develop your talent.
Which images do you not find interesting?
Photography and my life are like a river constantly changing its course, so I'd prefer not to say anything. I am constantly being driven to change, and something I say today may seem absurd in the future.
Can you imagine being a professional photographer?
No, not in the current economic climate of photography. In an age of micro-stock agencies selling pictures for a few cents it has become difficult to survive as a photographer. If I were financially independent the answer would be yes and no. Photography can lead to social isolation, because you're never at home: It's difficult to develop and maintain friendships.
If you could choose, is there an image that you would like to take again? A particular person or landscape?
Yes, Burma. The countryside and the people. Rarely have I had such intense impressions of a place. I wish I could help the people improve their situation too, though this is photographically counterproductive.