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NANPA Oral History Project -


Erwin Bauer

Erwin Bauer

Date of Interview: January 18, 2004
Interviewer: Shirley Nuhn (SN)
Transcriber: Susie Parrent
Length: 72 minutes
(Also present are his wife, Peggy Bauer (PB), and John Nuhn, photo director, National Wildlife magazine)


Track 1: (5:00 min.)

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SN: This is Shirley Nuhn, co-chair of the History Committee of the North American Nature Photography Association. It's Sunday, January 18, 2004. I'm in Sequim, Washington, with Erwin and Peggy Bauer. And my first question, to you, Joe, do you want to go by Erwin officially, do people know you by Joe, or what would you prefer?

EB: I guess I prefer Erwin, and very few people know me by Joe, which began in some obscure way in my youth. And I just don't know, really.

SN: Okay. Well, I'm going to be starting with core questions that I have [done] with all the photographers. I'm going to start with core questions that I ask of everybody that we've done oral history interviews with. Can you tell me how you felt when you saw your very first photo published?

EB: I must have felt elated. I can't think of any more than that.

SN: What was it? What was the subject?

EB: It was a whitetail deer in an Ohio state park - a buck deer standing in a snow storm. And it was published in Outdoor Life.

SN: Were you in high school or younger, or what age?

EB: Oh, God. No, no, no, no. It must have been just on my return from the military service in Korea.

SN: Had you been photographing in Korea, too?

EB: No.

SN: You just started?

EB: It had always been a small interest of mine, you know, as had the outdoors, hunting and fishing. And it just kind of worked in.

SN: What kind of camera did you use?

EB: I think that one was a Pilot Super.

SN: And then did Outdoor Life pick up any more of your work?

EB: My pictures?

SN: Your pictures.

EB: Oh, yes, later on. Yes, later on. I think that in the years following, and at least up until 1980 or so, I had more material published in Outdoor Life than anyone else.

SN: Do they still publish your work?

EB: My book?

SN: No.

EB: My work?

SN: Your work.

EB: Oh, once in a while a few photos, but not much any more. Because my photos at that time had mostly to do with hunting and fishing and I don't shoot those any more.

SN: Okay. But you are a record setter?

EB: No.

SN: Well, with them anyway (laughs). Okay. Can you tell us about your mentors? Who really was behind you, rooting for you?

EB: Oh, nobody really. I suppose that Karl Maslowski made suggestions to me quite often, and he more than anyone else probably. I read a lot on anything I could pick up on outdoor-type photography.

SN: And you got to know him when you were both from Ohio?

EB: Oh, yes.

SN: You got to be very close?

EB: Oh, yes.

SN: And earlier you mentioned that you still talk to him and you still see him every now and then.

EB: Well, I don't see him very often. And I haven't seen him for several years. However, my son, Parker, is a very good friend of his, and they go fishing together two, three times every summer in Ohio.

SN: Can you tell us a little bit about the material that you had? The kinds of supplies that were available when you started?

EB: I wish I could answer you, really. I didn't have much money to buy anything and I think all I had was a camera and film.

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