“In Vintage Veritas” – Johannes Huwe and the fascinating world of analog photography
Johannes Huwe’s life philosophy can be aptly described in just three words: “In Vintage Veritas.” His photo projects expressively reflect an avowed passion for the golden past and a penchant for vintage cars and their gleaming chrome. Huwe’s pictures are journeys through time. In his coffee-table book “The Race of Gentleman” he takes the reader to Wildwood Beach, New Jersey, where an extraordinary motorsport race takes place every year in the tradition of the “Hod Rodder East Coast.” Huwe captures old automobiles, bizarre drivers, and race girls in fantastic pictures.
“Land Speed Racer” is the name given to the daring men in their self-built race cars, to whom Huwe dedicates a photo gallery in his publication “World of Speed.” The salt lake El Mirage serves as the scene of the unconventional desert race.
Ur-Porsche: Legendary road trips with the most beautiful car in the world
Impressive images are taken with Huwe’s 1975 Gemini Blue Porsche 911 in the Red Rock Canyon State Park and on the legendary Route 66. The grandiose, 700-kilometer “Route de Grandes Alpes” from Lake Geneva to the Mediterranean is also an adventure-road trip with spectacular photos with his air-cooled Porsche 356.
In short: Huwe’s heart beats for objects that outlast time and have a history and for aesthetic objects and their second, third, or fourth life. The affinity for vintage is not a fleeting trend, but lived authenticity and a deliberately chosen lifestyle. Thus the Hanover native lives in an Art Nouveau villa from 1903, logically drives an Ur-Porsche from 1954, and photographs with a 60-year-old Leica. Even his wardrobe is an homage to the modernity of the past: Every shirt, every pair of pants, and every jacket is an original. The man from Lower Saxony likes to wear simple 1920s-style work clothes, red-wing shoes, and vintage motorcycle clothing. With his effortlessly cool and urban hipster look, he also embodies the symbol of a freedom-loving individualist.
Vintage living and emotions on four wheels
“I live by the term “vintage” because a lot of things from the past are more emotional and higher-quality than modern products,” explains the photographer and successful CEO of a digital communications agency. The beauty of the past makes Huwe emotional, especially with regard to historic automobiles: “Valuable old metal fascinates me, makes my heart beat faster, and turns every ride into an adventure!
I am also enthusiastic about analog, mechanical cameras without batteries that, after more than six decades, work more reliably than any modern digital camera and have proven themselves in extreme situations such as Antarctica.”
For Huwe, vintage is sustainably timeless and has shaped his life accordingly. At 16, he bought his first analog SLR camera; but his true love of photography developed later on his various photography trips, which in turn awakened the adventurer and cosmopolitan in him.
Analog photography fascination: Symbiosis between art and craft
The digital revolution also left its mark on the trained computer scientist. However, after various excursions with digital cameras he had the dissatisfied and sober realization that the images appear cool and lifeless. “For me, analog film still has an unattainable artistic expression in a photo. It awakens feelings and emotions that digital images cannot,” says Huwe about his clear commitment to analog photography, which for him is a symbiosis of art and craft.
With analog photography, he confidently occupies a niche that has only recently become more popular again and promises the slow return of analog film. Huwe gives several reasons for this: “First of all, it is a deeply genuine and – without Photoshop – unaltered photograph. On the other hand, in contrast to digital photography, it is a demanding craft. It demands much more expertise from the photographer.”
Analog photography advantage: Distraction-free access to the object
Huwe promotes analog photography because only through it can an intense and direct engagement with one’s current setting take place. This includes picture preparation, lighting, as well as working according to the zone system. Huwe mentions another important criterion: “By being limited to 36 shots and the lack of control of a screen, I have completely distraction-free access to the object. This creates closeness and a very special relationship.” With the unique combination of camera, lens, and film Huwe develops his own unmistakable style that results in powerful photos that carry his DNA.
High expectations: Every picture is celebrated
“Every picture is celebrated,” Huwe explains. “Targeted and deliberate, I press the shutter release with high expectations for an individual picture and thus manage to make the leap from an ordinary photo to a work of art,” says the man from Lower Saxony, explaining his devotion to analog photography, which slows him down and is a bit of an escape for him from the digital world in which Huwe moves daily as part of his agency. As a pleasant side-benefit, he feels the arc of suspense from shutter release to the finished paper picture from his darkroom.
Publications in world-renowned lifestyle magazines
Today the father of two is an internationally successful photographer and member of the “World Photography Organisation.” His analog work, for which he uses various Leicas and a Hasselblad, have made their way into renowned world-renowned lifestyle magazines such as Autopilot Magazine Russia, Blackbird Journal Hong Kong, GQ, Leica, Spiegel Online, or Zeit. In addition to various galleries, Customers using Huwe’s photographs for campaigns include well-known clients such as Burger King USA, the US railway company Amtrak, and exclusive jewelry manufacturers such as Jochen Pohl. International law firms have his pictures – large-format at more than four meters – hanging in their conference rooms.
Special technology for a particular look to an image: Lenses from the 1930s and 40s
With a focus on documentary, automotive, and landscape photography, his images are a global inspiration, because they stand out from the masses and aren’t pulled under in the wake of the mainstream. Viewing the images instantly triggers a desire to get to know other places and worlds. More than that, each image amounts to a journey through time and conveys a feeling as if you were paging through your grandparents’ or great-grandparents’ photo album. Huwe deliberately uses various lenses from the 30s and 40s for this extraordinary effect, as well as a Kodak Tri-X Black and White film, which recently celebrated its 50th birthday unchanged.
14 million followers: Porsche Company publishes Huwe’s pictures
Design, style, and aesthetics are the pillars in the life of the Hanover native and the basis of his success. His spectacular photography trip pictures, which he took with his cult Porsche 356 in a breathtaking alpine landscape are currently enjoying a very positive response. An impressive success: The Porsche Company embraced his pictures and published them on their international social media channels with more than 14 million followers.
Adventure road trip with Porsche preA 1954 model – Route de Grandes Alpes
A route that goes well beyond Huwe’s “Sunday outing” with lovely weather is the 700-kilometer Alpine tour from Lake Geneva to the Côte d’Azur with his 64-year-old vintage Porsche. With a total of 22,000 vertical meters, including the Col de l’Iseran, at 2,764 meters the highest road pass in the Alps, and 16 mountain passes, the adventure did pose some issues and thus brought to light many of the automotive legend’s “signs of age.”
Challenges also needed to be solved “a-long the way:” Huwe is tall and the Porsche is small. “I’m just happy that I even fit inside,” he admits, relieved. Did he pack a lot of luggage? Not possible since the trunk of the cult-car is home to the gas tank and the spare tire. Fortunately, the Porsche lover travels light – also figuratively – through life as a minimalist.
A fantastic route on the “Top of Europe”
“A fantastic and mystical route on the “Top of Europe,” he explains with a sparkle in his eyes. In many regards an adventure:. “The fascinating rugged mountain massifs and highest mountain passes were certainly extremely impressive, but so was the pleasure of being able to drive such a rare gem as the 1954 Porsche preA. Day by day, I felt more connected to my car on the tour. I love the design of the ur-model, the bubbling sounds of the engine, and the smell of gasoline in the air.”
A wonderful and pure ride
“Everything is very direct and close,” Huwe recalls. There is no power brake booster, no power steering, and no safety belts. It’s both a physical and cognitive experience every time you step on the gas. “I really had to work at staying in my seat in the tight curves. And yet: An indescribably amazing ride!”
But everything on the tour didn’t always go according to plan, especially since Huwe is traveling with a proverbial “older man.” It sometimes takes a lot of creativity to solve spontaneous situations. For example when checking the level of the gas tank. If the gas tank needle stops working, alternatively the kilometers traveled must be recorded. A clever idea would be to take a photo of the odometer reading. Or so the Hanover native thought, only to notice with a start after having driven for a few hours that the odometer was also stuck. But necessity is the mother of all invention, and Huwe’s innovative idea of using a simple wooden stick as a measuring instrument was the answer.
Engineering knowledge and creativity
His engineering skills were once again put to the test when a raging thunderstorm came down with heavy rain in the French Alps and the windshield wiper wasn’t quite up to its original task. With a savvy look under the dashboard, he discovered the mechanical problem and drove to the nearest garage. “Using my hands and feet, I tried to explain what tools I needed,” says Huwe about his visit to the “Station de service,” where the workers were all extremely friendly, but Huwe doesn’t speak French and the Frenchmen couldn’t speak English.
Triad of automotive events
Rounding off the triad of automotive events, there were also problems with the engine, which often ran only on three instead of four cylinders. Using telephone remote diagnostics of the old-timer workshop, Huwe helped the almost 70-year-old “senior back on his feet” and the Boxer engine confidently demonstrated that it still packs a punch, even after seven decades. “In the morning, frankly, I never knew if I would reach my destination that evening,” the entrepreneur says, laughing. “But it always worked out.”
Magnum opus: 30 films, 1,080 pictures, and spectacular images
The spectacular photos on the “Route de Grandes Alpes” with the most beautiful car in the world certainly “worked out.” Aesthetically, the rounded forms of the 356, sensually reminiscent of a woman’s body, stand out from the rugged massif. Inevitably, at this moment, the famous quote from Ferry Porsche about the creation of the cult car comes to mind: “In the beginning I looked around and could not find quite the car I dreamed of. So I decided to build it myself.” Thanks to the Stuttgart native, because even today his dream amounts to a work of art.
Huwe’s images from the Alpine tour are works of art and masterful achievements par excellence. Only absolutely perfect photos after the darkroom and critical examination of the expert see the see the light of day in public.
After the trip is before the trip: Next vintage road trip in the USA
Most recently, the lover of historic automobiles acquired a Porsche 911: an ur-model from 1975. A rare, unmodified specimen still with its original invoice and more than 40 years-old service documents.
“With this beautiful, Gemini Blue Porsche, I would like to combine my great experiences from the Alps trip with the unique landscape in the western United States,“ says Huwe full of anticipation, already in the midst of professional preparation and logistical detail work for the next vintage car road trip.
“I want to go there too:” Huwe’s adventure pictures trigger wanderlust
In addition to his passion for Porsche, the Hanover-native agency head devotes himself intensively to adventure photography and captures breathtaking impressions of our Earth with his analog cameras.
His search for the perfect photo, for example, has taken him to the Mojave Desert, Patagonia, Iceland, or the frozen wonderland of the Arctic to portray the Inuits. The pictures that he took in a Russian Mig 29 in the stratosphere are also spectacular. Another extreme trip will take the freedom-loving four-season trekker and stand-up paddler into the snowy steppes of Kazakhstan in a few weeks to witness a space capsule landing live.
It’s definitely certain that we can look forward to genuine, unadulterated, and unique images. “In Vintage veritas.”