Nicholas Hartmann
Technical and Scientific Translator
8813 N. 85th Court
Scottsdale, AZ 85258

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About photography






 Picture gallery

About Erich Hartmann




I grew up with photography: my father (Erich Hartmann, 1922–1999) was a professional photographer and photojournalist, and an early member of the Magnum Photos cooperative.

I shot my first roll of film when I was six years old. My first professional assignment came in 1967: across the alley from where my family lived during a four-year stay in London was the workshop of a maker of custom convertible tops and tonneau covers for classic British cars like the MG, Alvis, Lagonda, and Bentley, and I was hired to photograph them for his magazine advertisements. Back in New York I took (and developed and printed) the photographs for my high-school yearbook; and I made use of my photographic skills again in graduate school, where I earned part of my stipend as a research fellow documenting archaeological excavations, making record shots of artifacts for articles and lectures, and taking photomicrographs. In 1984 I began my full-time career as a freelance translator of technical and scientific documents, and since then my photographic work has been entirely personal.

My photographs have appeared in archaeological journals, in magazines such as Omni and Photo Techniques, in the Sunday magazine of the Chicago Tribune on January 29, 1995 (this picture, image 2 at left), and as one of twelve images selected for the 2003 calendar of the Milwaukee Art Museum (this picture, image 3 at left; the “model” is my mother, Ruth Bains Hartmann). I also contributed to group shows at Leica Gallery in New York City and Gallery H2O in Milwaukee, and one print is now in the collection of the Milwaukee Art Museum.

Most pleasing to me is the knowledge that my pictures are exhibited on the walls and mantelpieces and refrigerators of many friends and family members, and now form part of the ever-expanding “cloud” of digital images that can be viewed on almost any computer in the world.


“Der Fotograf ... ist letztlich nur ein Mensch der sich einen Kasten umgehängt hat. Der Kasten hat vorn ein Loch, und der Mensch versucht durch das Loch Licht einzufangen. Das ist alles.”

“The photographer... is basically just a guy with a little box hanging around his neck. The box has a hole in the front, and he tries to catch light through the hole. That's it.”

– Alexander Smoltczyk: Camera Obscura, GEO-Extra Fotografie, Hamburg 1996

In the age of chemical photography I shot both black-and-white negatives and color slides, using first a single-lens reflex camera and later a rangefinder. Most of the slides were simply projected once for family viewing and then filed away, but between 1978 and 2001, in a succession of variously makeshift darkrooms, I made several thousand black-and-white prints for distribution to family and friends and for my own archive. In the 21st century I started scanning the negatives to generate Photoshop files that were then turned into inkjet prints. I developed my last roll of film in April, 2005, and since then I have used an all-digital workflow to produce color images intended principally for computer-based distribution and viewing.


Clicking on this link will take you to an online gallery of photographs (and a few drawings) that I find pleasing. It will be added to occasionally.


My father's influence on me as a photographer and a human being was paramount; please click here to learn more about him and his pictures.

Because the photographic work of my father’s Magnum colleagues was ubiquitous when I was growing up, I also absorbed a great deal from each of them. Three were particularly influential:

  • Charles Harbutt, whose Travelog first revealed to me that pictures of everyday surroundings could evoke mystery and terror and elation;
  • Josef Koudelka, whom my father greatly admired for his personal and visual courage, and whose best work I still find viscerally thrilling;
  • Henri Cartier-Bresson, the artistic godfather of every black-and-white photographer, who invented the idea of disappearing behind an unobtrusive little camera; he was able to infuse both geometry and emotional impact into an arrangement of shades of gray like no one before or since.

Ever since we first met in Oak Park, Illinois in January of 1994, during one of the coldest Midwestern winters ever recorded, Mike Johnston has generously given me criticism and encouragement as a photographic editor and writer and as a good friend. He is not only a perceptive writer but also a humane and generous person, as well as an apparently inexhaustible source of useful information about photography, photographs, and photographers. Much of that information appears on his blog, The Online Photographer; I look at it every morning and so should you.