Peter Neumann grew up in a creative family. His father was a still life oil painter, a photographer and glove designer. His mother was a musician. His first experiences with photography began with his father and their Makina Plaubel in the 1950’s. There were family slideshows after his father’s business trips to Europe and then there were visits to the Museums of New York City. Peter described their relationship succinctly “My father and I never played ball: we went to art museums.”
His own work began much later with what he call the “found image”, using 35mm cameras to capture the world around him. He moved to larger format cameras which allowed for more control. The process expanded when he started shooting still life in his commercial studio. Props on interesting surfaces lit with strobe lights allowed enabled him to invent images.
He later became an illustrator and used Photoshop and 3D software to make totally fabricated scenes. Whole worlds were created with objects that were built and lit in a digital environment. This was so interesting to him that he took over ten years off from photography to illustrate magazine articles and annual reports. His work was featured in eight magazines and in a show at the Brooklyn Museum.
Peter describes his evolution “What’s been interesting is to see the influence different disciplines have had on each other. My Dune photographs taught me how to light nudes in the studio. Still life cross lighting taught me to capture textures on products and gave me the sensitivity to see what later became my Utah landscapes. The world of 3D forced me to look at the world around me more carefully than I ever had to before because I had to build objects from scratch, such as a microscope or croquet set, and because I had to create surface textures to make them look realistic.”
“I always wondered how my experience in making illustrations would influence my photography once I got back to it. I’m seeing the results now.”