View all Lifestyle in Issue B

BENJAMIN KAUFMANN

BEHIND THE LENS - BENJAMIN KAUFFMAN

When German-born fashion and beauty photographer Benjamin isn't shooting for glossies like Grazia and Marie-Claire, he's busy working with the Kang Yung Foundation, which supports education in rural China, as well as the German/Austrian organization Menschen fur Menschen which supports self-development in Ethiopia. Here Benjamin reveals his personal, very international, A-Z to TWENTY6 - including his favourite ever episode of Fawlty Towers.

What were your ambitions and aspirations at the age of 26?

I dreamt of going to Paris to work as a photographer. Previously I’d worked as a graphic designer and also had done a few photographic jobs in Munich. By chance I met Michael Leis, a Munich-based beauty and fashion photographer, who looked at my work, asked me a few questions and gave me the best piece of advice I had received in my professional career to date - to take a step back and assist. Two great years later as his full-time assistant, I was a huge step closer to becoming a photographer.

Pick a word beginning with the letter 'B' which best sums you up...

Balance. I try to find the balance between work, culture and nature. It’s not always easy but I am getting closer.

For each letter of the alphabet, pick a word followed by a sentence that inspires you.

AIR

One of the biggest luxuries in the world - fresh air! I love walking through a forest after rainfall.

BRAVE NEW WORLD

The savage dies in the end. Maybe we should try to save him, rather than the system.

CAMINO DE SANTIAGO

The walk that changed my life.

DAD

My father is a photographer and introduced me to the profession. From early age on I travelled with him, saw the world, gathered impressions and developed that most important personality trait - curiosity.

ETHIOPIA

The cradle of humanity. One of the poorest countries in the world that has so much to give.

FESTEN

The Celebration (1998, Thomas Vinterberg) is one of my favourite movies of all times. I love the intensity that's conveyed through its simplicity.

GERMAN

I love "The Germans" episode of Fawlty Towers despite my nationality - or maybe because of it.

HAIR OF THE DOG

I was actually surprised to find such a good explanation of this term on Wikipedia- check it out. They even mention Shakespeare, Hippocrates and Jack Nicholson. I feel much better now.

INTEGRITY

Regarded as the opposite of hypocrisy.

JELLYFISH

A surprise, in a good way, in Chinese cooking. Sour and spicy.

KANKA

Means buddy in Turkish. I worked in Istanbul with four Turkish hairdressers and we had the best time - they didn't speak a word of English and my Turkish is non-existent. That was the first word they taught me. “Serefe” came next...

LENA

My love.

MURAKAMI

Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. Norwegian Wood. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. Kafka on the Shore..... Still a few to read.

NUDGE

My lovely accountant always gives me a gentle nudge when the deadline comes closer and I still haven't done any paperwork. Not really my passion. Why is no country in this world able to introduce a sensible, easy and just tax system that doesn't waste so much time, like the APT Tax from Professor Feige? It would solve a lot of problems in one go…

OSKAR

Born in Munich on October 21st, 2010 at 8:14 a.m., weighing 3.28 kg (7.2 lbs) - my best friend's son.

PIGEONHOLE

Nobody wants it and everyone does it. It can be the reason for huge success or big frustrations.

QUERDENKER

Beautiful composite German word. Lateral and thinker. Here is the Wikipedia definition: Lateral thinking is solving problems through an indirect and creative approach, using reasoning that is not immediately obvious and involving ideas that may not be obtainable by using only traditional step-by-step logic.

LE ROSSIGNOL (Franz Liszt)

Played it over and overIt reminds me that I have to buy a piano and start playing again, after a ten-year break!

SPIDER

I have seen and adored Louise Burgeois' spider many times. In my opinion it’s the best Tate exhibition. The Annie Leibovitz portrait too - speaks for itself.

TREE

I’ve built many tree houses in my life and wonder why I am still alive. Love lying in the shadow of a tree. Love to photograph trees. Lena loves hugging trees. And People of the Trees is the coolest episode in Human Planets.

URINAL

Quite handy and also one of the most controversial pieces of art. Yuan Chai and Jian Jun Xi used it. It's the artist’s choice.

VEIL

I have always been fascinated by masonry and the art of creating the perfect illusion. The Veil of Stone, unnamed treasure in the Louvre, took my breath away. Also, V is for the veins in Michelangelo's sculptures.

WHALE

After sailing back and forth in front of Greenland coast for more than 8 hours, all of a sudden the first whale surfaced. Then we saw a real dance of the whales. About 20 individuals circled our little boat, came close, surfaced, dived and spouted water for about 2 hours.

XYLONITE

There are actually not too many English words starting with an X but I found one that's quite cool for photography. Xylonite became Celluloid became film became the basis of photography. Now we're digital and try to imitate the effect in order to get the character back into our images.

YOGA

Ommmm....

ALSO SPRACH ZARATHUSTRA

Thus Spoke Zarathustra. Read it on the beach in Brazil, thought it was fascinating but probably didn't understand a word.

To see more of Benjamin's work benjaminkaufmann.com

INTERVIEW/ISABELLA BRUCE
All images courtsey of Benjamin Kaufmann