Digital FeaturesCome Slowly, EdenJoachim Baldauf
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Come Slowly, Eden · Joachim Baldauf 1 / 1
Interview

INTERVIEW

Joachim Baldauf

2018_Portrait

Photo: Marina Geckeler

Photography: Joachim Baldauf Concept and styling: Alexander Hofmann (c/o Uschi Rabe) Model: Linus Weber (c/o Modelwerk)  Creative Director: Dirk Meycke Production: Winteler Productions Camera: Leica S (Typ 007) with Summarit-S 70 f/2.5 ASPH. (CS)

A tulip signifies wealth, a magnolia respect. In their collaborative project, hair and make up designer Alexander Hofmann and photographer Joachim Baldauf allude to the symbolic language of flowers – and allow their message to unfold.

Traditionally, a man will give flowers to a woman. In your project, however, they adorn his own body. How did this concept come about?

Alexander Hofmann: The concept for this project is something I’ve had going round my head for a long time. The idea was to juxtapose two opposing themes in order to create a sense of tension. The ‘man and flower’ combination appealed to me because it conjures up such a strong contrast.

Joachim Baldauf: I have always found masculinity to be a very interesting topic. It is imbued with certain stereotypes, which I aim to break in my work. Flowers are generally associated with femininity; the ‘man with flower’ combination aims to remind the viewer that we shouldn’t just go ahead and pigeonhole everything and everyone we encounter. Maybe I’m a bit of a hippie, but I’m basically saying: men, discover your softer side!

What is the story behind the title?

Alexander Hofmann: The title stems from a poem by Emily Dickinson which essentially revolves around the fact that men, too, can be deeply vulnerable. At its centre is a timid young man named Eden, who must build up the courage to confess his feelings of affection to a beautiful woman.

How did your collaboration on this project first come about?

Alexander Hofmann: I had actually envisioned Joachim as the ideal photographer for this concept from the very beginning. We’ve known each other for several years, and I really admire the sensitivity with which he interacts with people. And I was also aware of his penchant for botany.

Joachim Baldauf: Yes, Alex was certainly pushing on an open door when he approached me about this project. I am an ardent fan of all things botanical. My brother is a floral artist, florist and gardener, and it was through him that I discovered my passion for horticulture. Just recently we visited a garden show together.

For this shoot you selected different varieties of flowers and positioned them on a nude model. What were the thought processes behind this approach?

Alexander Hofmann: There were several flowers that I felt were very important to include because they are particularly meaningful. The crown imperial, for example, symbolises the pride that comes before the fall; the columbine signifies a scorned lover, as well as the Holy Spirit. We also chose some aesthetically striking highlights such as the parrot tulip and a blossoming magnolia twig. The reason we decided on a nude model was that we didn’t want to add another parameter to the image, and we felt that clothes would only have represented a distraction.

Joachim Baldauf: With any photographic project, it is important to imbue the images with a metalevel of understanding and various possible interpretation. It’s not just about overt aesthetics, but also about that second, deeper look. In this case, this included the symbolic meaning of the flowers. After all, a rose elicits a very different feeling than a cactus. Within the photographs, the model and the flowers seem almost symbiotic – the flowers can be seen as accessories, or as garments in themselves.

The visual style and aesthetics of your images seem to transcend time and space…

Joachim Baldauf: That’s precisely what I am aiming to achieve: to create images that seem both contemporary and impossible to categorise. They could, conceivably, be old photographs, but they don’t have a specifically vintage feel. The important thing is that you capture a contemporary topic in your own, timeless style. It’s very similar to fashion: if you are constantly following the latest trends, every look you choose eventually becomes outmoded. If you stay true to your own style, however, this can never happen. We took these images in a studio in Munich, using a simple background and predominantly working with indirect light.

How did you prepare for the shoot, and how did you execute it on the day?  

Alexander Hofmann: When creating the design, I considered the overall aesthetic of each scene as well as the interplay of facial expressions, gestures, the model’s physique and the chosen flowers. This gave rise to images that show a very close interconnection between protagonist and flowers. The scene with the crown imperial, for example, seems almost like a sensual embrace.

Joachim Baldauf: First of all, I wrote a concept and drew sketches. I mentally prepare myself for every shoot, but I can only really get started once I’ve got everything down on paper. All of the images were shot with the Leica S, which still continues to be my favourite camera. It is 100% conducive to my way of working – be it in terms of handling, size, weight or aesthetics. I’ve been favouring a 70mm focal length for the past twenty years, so this is what I used for this series. This focal length corresponds very closely to my natural field of view. And I aim to capture images that reflect my own way of seeing.

One of the photographs looks as though it was shot in red light…

Joachim Baldauf: In this instance, I used a red filter in post processing. This is an area where I am very restrained, as I’m not a fan of visible Photoshop effects. I tend to only make changes that could also have been achieved in the darkroom. In other words: I use digital means to create an analogue look.

Given your love for flowers, do you have a particular favourite?

Alexander Hofmann: For me, it actually depends on the season. In February, I am excited at the sight of the first tulips, whereas in the summer it’s dahlias, and in the autumn sunflowers, that make my heart sing. We have a garden that we have cultivated for thirteen years, where anything is allowed to grow. This kind of rich variety is what I love the most.

Joachim Baldauf: To me there is no such thing as an unappealing flower – but there are flowers that I have a deeper connection with than others. Especially dandelions. I associate them with childhood and happiness, colour and scent. I grew up in Germany’s rural Allgäu region, and I have memories of vast expanses of fields covered in yellow dandelions. I know it’s considered rather unspectacular, but it’s my favourite flower by far.