Nice to Meet you,

ANd I tell Visual StoRies

01

Connection

In a way it makes total sense that I have chosen to be a photojournalist.

To tell you the truth, I don’t really enjoy talking about myself in public. Being an Invisible story teller, to be behind the lens rather than in front of it kind of comes natural to me. I´m always uneasy when I am in the spotlight for some reason or the other, usually trying to make light of the situation with a nervous, self-deprecating remark.

That said I also fully appreciate that you came here because you are interested in my work and I want you to know that I am sincerely grateful that you are taking the time to be here and continue to read on.

It’s easy to think that being a good photographer is all about technical skills, like setting up the camera in a certain way or about which equipment you’re using. Since I have been teaching photography for many years, I can tell you that this is usually the expectation that students start studying photography with. The truth is, while the technical aspects play an important role, this comes much later in the creative process and that this is not the secret sauce that makes the truly great photographers of this world, well, great.

If you were to ask me: What is the single most important talent a photographer must have? I would tell you that he or she must really be able to connect with people and understand how they feel. It is first and foremost about understanding a persons emotions, about the reading of a situation. It is about understanding the story first and then knowing how to frame it in pictures. A good photographer, I prefer to say story teller since it’s not about taking just a couple of pictures but about telling a story as a whole, must first and foremost be able to connect with people.

In that spirit, let me try to tell you who I am. I can, of course, only give you a first glimpse but if you feel connected after reading about me here, I look forward to continue the conversation and get to know you.

1998: With my mentor
Magnum Photographer Inge Morath

In front of the Magnum Photos New York offices
(and holding my very first portfolio book)

02

Formal introduction

Do you find it awkward to have to introduce yourself and talk about your achievements? I know I do.
Fortunately I am spared thanks to an introduction that art critic and friend John Bremmer has written

“Stephan Rauch has certainly received a lot of attention for his work. He has been called “best wedding photographer in the world” many times over by renowned media outlets from around the world, most prominently Cosmopolitan Bride magazine. The Financial Times called him “one of the best wedding photographers in the world”, while Elle just wrote “the Best you can get”.

It is undeniable his work is wildly popular and keeps receiving accolades and attention around the globe. But why is that? When was the last time you have read about another wedding photographer in a general news outlet? How about never. What is it that stands out about his work? Is it the allure of his story, traveling the world, photographing the life events of the worlds rich and famous? Is it the glamour? Does he have a certain visual style that others
don’t? Is it about the style, fine art, documentary photography or portraiture?

Stephan is a photojournalist by education, he earned a Master of Arts in Photojournalism and Documentary Photography graduating with distinction from the University of the Arts London. Early on in his career Stephan worked at the renowned Magnum Photos agency in New York City. He had the opportunity to work individually with legendary Magnum photographers Elliott Erwitt and Erich Hartmann. Later on he also started teaching photography and photojournalism at a number of universities in the United States, Europe and Asia. He has been a visiting professor in photography at the East China University in Shanghai since 2011.

There is one thing apparent right away when taking even a casual look at his photos. There is a certain “je ne sais quoi” there. A depth and subtlety that can not be found in many others photographers work. Many of the images have multitudes of layers. They draw you in with a beautiful visual composition then keep delivering new details to discover.

Exploring Stephans photographs, I would posit that it’s not who is in the pictures and how famous they are, it is actually the exact opposite of glamour or grandness that makes his work worth writing about: It’s not the big, it’s the small. 

He is noteworthy not because he has photographed so many huge, lavishly decorated venues that serve his photos as stage sets. Rather, it is that he seems to have the uncanny ability to find and capture the most meaningful, beautiful and intimate moments each and every time and no matter what the setting. Moments that have only lasted a fraction of a second, yet Stephan finds a way to be there just at the right moment. He delivers in the most mundane setting, the back alley of a small town or a hotel bathroom, just as well as he does in the most grand, say the lavish hall of a baroque castle or the Grand Canyon (does it get any grander than that?).

His images are deeply moving and beautiful not because of any oversized spectacle but because they tell meaningful stories. The prestige of his work is derived from the incredible level of intimacy, tenderness and connection that one is immediately overcome when seeing it.

And this is exactly what truly visionary art is supposed to do: transcend the boundaries of boxes and categories to create something entirely new. Sometimes you don’t need to be in a museum to see great art.  Because of this dimension it is important to resist the temptation to oversimplify a summary of his work by putting it into either the art bucket, the celebrity bucket or the glamour bucket. It’s easy to miss the essence this way. It’s not about what you call it, it’s about what it delivers. And this is unmistakable. What Stephan delivers is the heart and soul of the human condition, the essence of this experience we all share and that we call life. Looking at Stephan’s pictures will make you think about the grander scale of things. It will make you smile, laugh, feel sentimental, feel hopeful, make you pensive, confident, melancholic, passionate and maybe even let you shed a tear about how wonderful it is to be human.

Only one thing it will certainly not do. Leave you untouched.

 

John Bremmer 
November 2018

2011: During the appointment ceremony
for visiting professor in photography

At the East China Normal University​ in Shanghai

Play Video