Would you please tell us a little about yourself?
I was born and raised in a small town near Stuttgart, Germany. I initially wanted to become an architect but after completing an internship and working in the field, I decided to pursue design. I received a BFA in graphic design with a concentration on photography at University of Design Schwäbisch Gmünd before heading off to Central St Martins in England to complete an MA in Interface Design. Today, my work often crosses many lines from architecture, sign systems, tradeshow environments, macro photography of medical devices, to documenting the transformation of Silicon Valley from light industrial warehouses into state of the art science lab facilities.
Where did you get your photographic training?
I am a classically trained photographer. The education ideas and influences at Schwäbisch Gmünd are based on the concepts of the Bauhaus and the former Hochschule für Gestaltung in Ulm. Early on I knew I wanted to be a photographer so I learned how to develop my own film and print negatives in a traditional darkroom. I was one of the first designers in our school to move into digital design so I was well positioned for the digital photography revolution.
Who has had an influence on your creative process?
I was fortunate to work in the studio of Professor Wolfgang Schmittel. He is known as the father of corporate identity design for the work he did as COO of Braun. He also was an award-winning photographer documenting Jazz artists in Frankfurt.
Please tell us about an image (not your own) that has stayed with you over time.
It is not so much a single image as a series of photographs that have stayed with me over the years. Here is a set of 3 images taken somewhere between 1950 and 1960 by Professor Schmittel capturing the Frankfurt Jazz Scene after World War II.
What image of yours would you say taught you an important lesson?
Many times I have thought “this would be a great image” or “this is something that needs to be documented” but didn’t take the time to capture the moment. Later, when you come back and notice things have changed you find the image no longer exists. That’s when you realize that you missed an amazing opportunity.
One image I am glad I took is the skyline from the top floor observation deck of the World Trade Center. I was in New York City for my wedding in December 1989. When our bridal party was refused entrance to the restaurant because we were wearing jeans, I spent time documenting the view.
What makes a good day for you creatively speaking?
A good day is a day when I explore, create, invent, and discover new things. I am an inveterate innovator. For me, everything is one iteration away from something better.
If you could spend a day with any other photographer or artist living or passed who would it be?
What equipment have you found essential in the making of your work?
I continually upgrade my cameras and software so I am flexible and willing to learn new things and welcome improvements. So, for me, a large-scale printer is essential. I like to print my work and I like to do it myself.
What hangs on your walls?
We live and work in a restored old barn. Most walls are white and bare because it helps the mind focus and think when things are uncluttered. Because my wife is also an artist, we rotate her paintings and my photographs in different areas at different times. We often find we are working on similar themes and like to compare our work.
What’s on the horizon?
I have a design and photography business that requires everything from hanging out a helicopter to focusing on a tiny medical device. Our clients are continually pushing me in new exciting directions. For this reason, my personal photographic journey is becoming more minimal and abstract.
Thank you Wolfgang.
To learn more about the work of Wolfgang Hahner please visit his site at Wolfgang Hahner.