PETER LIPPMANN is an American-born photographer who has worked in Paris for 25 years. Specialized in still life, advertising, magazine work, food, and trompe l'oeil. France, he publishes regularly in Vogue, the New York Times Magazine, Marie Claire, and Le Figaro. We had the opportunity to make an interview with him and to feature his pictures created for one of the best chefs in the world, Pierre Gagnaire . The persistent styling was made by careful and rigorous artist & editor Eric Trochon.
Please give a brief history of your photography career from start to date?
I was born in NYC raised in New Jersey. I always loved photography. I started with no money and very little experience. My only training was six months as assistant with Detlef Trefz in 1982. My first break came shooting a series of restaurants for Gault et Millau magazine. The pictures were very successful and the magazine gave me most of the covers and full pages for the following three years. This enabled me to establish myself as a food photographer. Slowly I improved my portfolio and branched out into general still life and better jobs started coming in. About 8 years ago the Cartier Art magazine started giving me series in which I was free to conceive the pictures with the only constraint being to include their jewelry. These pictures revolutionized my work and my portfolio. That was followed by accessory pictures for Marie Claire Bis. Both these magazines pushed me into doing a level of work that I had not yet achieved and this resulted in a much broader interest in my work and an international clientele. For the last two years I have been giving a lot of time to personnel work. In 2011 I will have my first art exhibition in Paris of pictures that I am very proud. I have two other major personnel series in the works.
Can you share some ideas about your photographic approach?
I try in all my pictures to make the message completely clear and at the same time infuse the pictures with poetry. When telling a photographic story I try to make sure that the viewer gets all the nuances.
Simplicity. Minimalism. No wasted space, nor words, nor time. I try to eliminate every superfluous element, in order to create a dense, emotional and thought provoking environment full of warmth, power, and desire.
This cannot be accidental. It only happens when every millimeter of the photograph is crafted with taste and restraint, when the photographer not only completely controls his image but has a clear pre-visualization of his subject.
Preparation is an obsession of mine. For example, the next step in this process is to get all your feedback and then rework the drawings. If an outside location is selected I would visit it (after preliminary scouting pictures) and take quick shots to make sure everything is perfect. I want to have the styling well ahead of the shoot. And then I need to be sure that, step by step, we are on the same page. I am quite obsessive and don’t like to leave anything to chance.
The same applies to retouching. I have had the same in house full time retoucher for 14 years. He is as committed as myself. We work from a proposition that we submit and then, step by step, incorporate each parties’ diverse finishing needs.
I consider ADVERTISING work to be a joint effort in which I am working for YOU. I feel a heavy responsibility each time I accept a job. It is essential to me that we both end up delighted with the result
Who is Pierre Gagnaire?
Pierre Gagnaire is considered one of the best chefs in the world, and two of his restaurants have received three Michelin stars Chefs worldwide have been influenced by his innovative culinary approach. The owner of restaurants in Paris, London, Hong Kong, and Tokyo, Gagnaire has become synonymous with adventurous and iconoclastic cooking.
Thanks for your help in order to create this amazing interview. We consider your food pictures as icons in this field, for sure we will collaborate again, for new articles.