The queen has one. The Dalai Lama has one. And Flims Laax Falera has one: a personal photographer.
Flims resident Gaudenz Danuser can capture the landscape inside a rectangle and yet still retain its scope and grandeur.
It is early, it is cold, and the clouds are hanging low. Anyone who photographs landscapes and nature, however, most definitely is in need of the proverbial thick skin. And patience. Gaudenz Danuser has set up his tripod at the Caumasee, screwed on the camera, and established a connection with his laptop for picture control. He's ready to take a picture. But it would seem that nature isn’t in the mood for a photo shoot. The clouds refuse to move off, the trees stand resolutely gloomy, and the Caumasee stays under cover – with only glimpses of its Caribbean qualities. There’s just no point. Gaudenz Danuser packs up his odds and ends again. ”Unfortunately, it's impossible to plan nature photos. In order to get a good image though, the conditions have to be perfect.”
So he always checks the weather report and on-site webcams just to be sure before heading out. But even that gives no guarantee. This morning in early winter certainly isn’t adhering to the meteorological predictions – it was supposed to be ”beautiful”. The countless images that the 50-year-old Flims resident has taken over the past few decades are a testament to the fact that Gaudenz Danuser has much better luck most days. They can be found on websites and in brochures, are emblazoned on advertising posters, and grace walls – shaping the public image of the Flims Laax Falera region. Danuser’s landscape images show the nature of the region in its unique beauty, often from an unfamiliar perspective and with an unusual atmosphere.
Gaudenz Danuser discovered his love for landscape pictures at a late stage. In any case, he took several detours before ending up in photography. The desire to be a photographer certainly was floating around in his head at a young age, but after completing school he chose to train to be a steel structure draughtsperson.
Detours to structural engineering and a twelve-month break in Australia were to follow. ”Down under I really thought a lot about my future and made a list with requirements for my future career,” the Flims resident explains. All indicators pointed to architecture and photography.
All the same, Gaudenz Danuser again decided against picking up a camera and instead took up architectural studies at the University of Applied Sciences, Chur. But as is usually the case with true passions, it is impossible to suppress them.
So one day he took the leap into the unknown and threw in his lot with photography. At first with the goal to photograph architecture and design. He looked over the shoulder of other photographers and learned what there is to know. It wasn’t, however, enough to live from photography.
The big break as a photographer
He got his big break as a professional photographer while working as a ski instructor in Flims. And riding his snowboard during his free time. A friend of his who was also a snowboarder was under contract with the sports article brand Adidas. Adidas needed pictures. Gaudenz Danuser took them. That was the beginning.
For portraits, he finds it important not just to show the people, but also to show the people in their own world. Like with his portraits of the Graubünden top chef Andrea Caminada, or German comedian Bülent Ceylan.
Unlike when he photographs landscapes at home, where he can always try again later until he has the perfect image, on productions with a big team you usually don’t even get a second chance. Then you have to have the picture ”in the bag”, even when the conditions are bad.
The conservative photographer
Danuser is a conservative photographer, he even sees himself as ”old-fashioned”. His photos receive very little editing and he uses a Leica medium format camera with set focal length. But no zoom, as this forces him to find the right location.