“Portrait of Professor Bauman” by Wander Black

In 2009 I was commissioned to photograph Professor Bauman for the exhibition at the Museum of London. Entering his house in Leeds through a wild garden was like the world standing still.

Professor Bauman, sociologist and author, can boast more than 50 publications, flagged by numerous awards, yet still living modestly.

The front-room was the perfect location for this shoot and an extension of the Professor. Bare bricks, surrounded by all those books and his famous pipe on the table.

He was always known for his hospitality and before I knew it I was served with canapes and famous “Baumaniak” (drink which would consist mostly of strong spirit with a bit of mixer). That would set me beautifully in a different dimension..

An hour later, just before leaving his house, he apologied for not being more present but that evening he was about to go and say goodbye to his terminally ill wife to whom he was married 62 years.

I met him several times afterwards but I never managed to capture this moment of stillness again. Instead I learnt to listen to others but most importantly to listen to myself.

During those long conversations he taught me how being idle could benefit your work and I discovered that in his early days he was a keen photographer but soon enough felt that he was too intrusive. Something I’m always trying to balance in my own photography.

“Avoid the crowd, avoid mass audiences, keep your own counsel, which is the counsel of philosophy – of wisdom you can acquire and make your own” – Zygmunt Bauman.

What do you think are the TWO most impactful features that make your image a good photograph? Don’t be shy!

Surroundings and natural (and somehow) absent look of the subject.

If you would be able to make this photo once again, what would be the ONE thing you would like to do better or different?

I would shoot everything on film.

Wander Black shared this photograph in the FRAMES Facebook Group.


Wander Black, London, UK


Equipment and Settings

Canon 7D + EF 50mm f1.4

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