North American Nature Photography Association

Connecting The Nature Photography Community


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 2: (5:00 min.)

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SN: Did you develop your own work?

EB: No.

SN: So you could get by kind of lightweight, not having to carry a bunch of materials with you?

EB: Yeah, this was a light 2-1/4 by 2-1/4 single lens reflex camera. I don't know if it was the first one of those or not, but it was one of the first.

SN: The reason that you didn't have that many supplies was it just hard to afford them, or they just weren't available?

EB: I think, well, what do you call it when you're young and dumb and, you know, you're not with it?

SN: I think we still say "not with it."

EB: (to Peggy) What's that when you're...

PB: Naive.

EB: Naive.

SN: Naive?

EB: That's it. I was a naive person and that's about it. I didn't understand about the world of photography, and it took me a while to pick up things here and there, read outdoor magazines and camera magazines.

SN: But you still had that really good buyer, Outdoor Life.

EB: Yeah, and I picked up others along the way. Advertisers saw some of those pictures, including that deer standing in the snowstorm, the snow just pelting down. And the next year they - this is Remington, I believe, DuPont Remington - they bought that to use the next year in advertisements.

SN: So DuPont did this for their [ads]. Was it for corporate work or for just consumer ads?

EB: Yeah, this is for consumer ads in all the outdoor magazines and like that.

SN: Did it seem like to be a nature photographer that you almost had to be a scientist, a biologist, somebody interested in the actual nature and technical areas?

EB: By God, Shirley, it never occurred to me, and in those days I didn't even know that there were wildlife biologists, probably.

SN: So you photographed what you liked? It wasn't a matter of documentation of anything?

EB: Yeah, it was what I liked. I liked to shoot pictures of people fishing and in scenic places. And I liked to shoot people hunting, you know, or building a deer blind or something like that. And this gradually worked its way into wildlife, because I was in the field with wildlife. How much detail do you want to go into this stuff?

SN: Enough to satisfy you - to tell your story and how you got started and how you maintained your interest.

EB: I guess, you know, looking back in the past, I look at it with far more details than anybody else would give a damn about, but anyway, quickly - I went on an assignment for Outdoor Life one day to do a story about hunting whitetail deer which were then becoming suddenly more plentiful on farms in Ohio. I think it had to do with farm ponds - the deer, whatever. And so I went out to this pond in southern Ohio to shoot some pictures of some hunters there. And while they were hunting in the morning I was sitting by this pond and I was pretty well hidden. While I'm sitting there some deer came walking down to the pond and they looked up at me a little bit, and I shot a couple pictures of them. And then I guess I scared them because they took off...

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