Peter Fetterman by Carole Schmitz

Peter Fetterman: A passion for images

Born in London, Peter Fetterman has been passionate about photography for over 40 years. Originally a filmmaker and collector, he founded his first gallery in 1988. He was one of the first tenants of Bergamot Station, the Santa Monica arts center opened in 1994.

His gallery has one of the most important collections of classic 20th century photographs with works by Henri Cartier-Bresson, Sebastião Salgado, Steve McCurry, Ansel Adams, Paul Caponigro, Willy Ronis, Andréstar Kertesz, Manuel Alvarez Bravo, Lillian Bassman, Pentti Sammallahti, Sarah Moon, and Jeffrey Conley.

Initially very inspired by Henri Cartier Bresson, through his flagship work “The decisive moment“( “Pictures at the Sauvette”)Peter also had the great honor of working with him for the last 14 years of his life.

His desire through his gallery is to make known one of the most powerful mediums in the world.

As a collector, he was always drawn to very humanistic images, images that helped him understand different cultures he hadn’t known or places he had never visited.

Moreover, the filmmaker in him always thinks that there is a real link between the love of cinema and the love of images. Ultimately, you want to move and be moved, touched and be touched. Photography and film evoke specific moments that we remember distinctly and that haunt us.

On the occasion of the release of his book “The power of photography” published by ACC Art Books, this lover of beautiful images agreed to submit to our questionnaire

Instagram: peterfettermangallery

Your first photographic trigger?
Pierre Fettermann : Seeing the physical print of Max Yavno’s “Premiere at Cathay Circle”, my first photo purchase in 1979 for $400.

Max Yavno 1911-1985 – Premiere at Carthay Circle Los Angeles, CA, 1949 (1970s print) – © 2022 Max Yavno

The image man or woman who inspires you?
Pierre Fettermann : It must be Henri Cartier Bresson, my god of photography.

The image you would have liked to make?
Pierre Fettermann : Henri Cartier Bresson “Srinagar” Kashmir, 1948.

Henri Cartier-Bresson 1908-2004 – Srinagar, Kashmir, 1948 © 2022 Henri Cartier-Bresson/Magnum Photos, courtesy Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson, Paris

Which one moved you the most?
Pierre Fettermann : Roman Vishniac “The only Flowers of his youth”.

Roman Vishniac (Russian, b. 1897-1990) – Sara, the only flowers of her youth, Warsaw, Poland, 1939 (printed before 1960) © Roman Vishniac. Gift of Mara Vishniac Kohn, Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life, Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.

And the one that made you angry?
Pierre Fettermann : Any photo of Donald Trump makes me angry.

A key image in your personal pantheon?
Pierre Fettermann : David Bailey. “John Lennon and Paul McCartney”. My youth!

David Bailey – John Lennon and Paul McCartney © 2022 David Bailey.

What is the quality necessary to be a good photographer?
Pierre Fettermann : Patience, Energy, Passion and comfortable shoes.

The secret of the perfect image, if it exists?
Pierre Fettermann : The perfect picture is the one you can never forget like any great Kertesz.

The person you would like to photograph?
Pierre Fettermann : Julia Margaret Cameron.

An essential photo book?
Pierre Fettermann : Henri Cartier-Bresson “The Decisive Moment”.

The camera of your debut?
Pierre Fettermann : Brownie Box camera.

Which one do you use today?
Pierre Fettermann : Leica.

Your favorite drug?
Pierre Fettermann : Pasta.

The best way to disconnect?
Pierre Fettermann : Walk by the ocean.

Your greatest quality ?
Pierre Fettermann : Enthusiasm.

A photo to illustrate a new banknote?
Pierre Fettermann : Elliott Erwitt, “Valencia”.

Elliott Erwitt 1928 – Valencia, Spain, 1952, printed later © 2022 Elliott Erwitt/Magnum Photos

The job that you would not have liked to do ?
Pierre Fettermann : To be a dentist.

How important is photography in your life?
Pierre Fettermann : It’s my life.

Your greatest extravagance professionally and as a photographer?
Pierre Fettermann : Buying expensive photographs that I can’t really afford.

The city, country or culture you dream of discovering?
Pierre Fettermann : Tibet.

The place you never get tired of?
Pierre Fettermann : Paris.

Your biggest regret?
Pierre Fettermann : I regret nothing as Piaf sings.

Instagram, Facebook, Tik Tok or snapchat, what is your opinion on social networks?
Pierre Fettermann : I have nothing to do with social networks. It bothers me and it’s a waste of time.

Color or B&W?
Pierre Fettermann : B&W.

Daylight or artificial light?
Pierre Fettermann : Day light.

If God existed, would you ask him to pose for you, or would you take a selfie with him?
Pierre Fettermann : No more. I would respect his privacy.

The image that represents for you the current state of the world?
Pierre Fettermann : Sebastião Salgado, “Figure 8, gold mine”.

Sebastião Salgado 1944 – Gold mine, Serra Pelada, Brazil, (Figure Eight), 1986 © Sebastião Salgado

What is the world really missing?
Pierre Fettermann : The respect of others.

If you had to start all over again?
Pierre Fettermann : I would not change anything I had a wonderful life.

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