Mark Hanauer, 68: The Visionaire

Throughout his career, Mark Hanauer has photographed creative icons including Charles Bukowski and Stevie Wonder, captured the vibrant energy of India, and delved into the “infinite landscapes filled with delicate sensuality” of flowers. He discusses some of his most memorable shoots, his path to claiming his personal expression, and the time David Hockney told him he was doing it all wrong.

Mark is one of the main contributors of visuals to AGEIST, and we thought, with all the ugly in the world these days, let’s find out more about this unapologetic seeker and creator of beauty, someone who has generously contributed to the look that is distinctly AGEIST. He is a photographer’s photographer, a highly-skilled, massively talented man who keeps pushing himself, even after decades of success, to create something as yet unseen. If you would like to add a daily dose of creative vision to your life, we recommend following his Instagram feed.

“Within flowers are infinite landscapes filled with delicate sensuality of form and color”

Your images of the botanical world are astounding. What is your interest in plants?
Within flowers are infinite landscapes filled with delicate sensuality of form and color. With a macroscopic lens it’s mesmerizing to be in the presence of such beauty that offers such visual surprise. The relationship to the female form is overwhelming. When I photograph botanicals, I am not satisfied until I find something that I have never seen, and it must have a strong visceral effect on me in the moment.

“My love for photography has deepened over the years”

How do you feel you have changed as a photographer over the years? What are you bringing that is different from when you were younger?
My love for photography has deepened over the years. What has changed is my acceptance and understanding of my gift, and how I can use it more for a personal expression rather than a commercial one. Very early in my career I had the opportunity to show my work to the great photo editor and photographer at Life, John Loengard. As he was going through my work, he said, “I can see you know how to solve other people’s problems. What about your own?” I had never thought about that. I think at that moment I was handed a roadmap, I just needed to pick the route.

After many years working and having felt accomplished enough at my craft that I could share something unique, I began to teach infrequently. That has helped me in my photography as well.

What is exciting your creativity today?
Anything and everything. Walks in the neighborhood. I find little visual stories everywhere. A friend recently dropped by some photo books she was giving away. As I was perusing a Magnum book from 1989, In Our Time, I was reminded of what first inspired me about photography. Classical photojournalism and editorial portraiture.

“David Hockney telling me that everything I was doing was wrong while photographing him was life changing”

Tell us a bit about one of your more memorable portrait sessions. How did you get the subjects to what you wanted?
I never felt like I did much other than try and make my subjects feel comfortable. Less great imagery was produced from preconceived ideas than out of an openness and a willingness to just collaborate in the moment.

Charles Bukowski called me a “huckster” which was I think the greatest compliment he could have given me, as he was the ultimate huckster.

Charles Bukowski
Gillean McLeod

Linda Ronstadt humming was a most memorable event as was James Taylor singing and strumming in my studio. My dog Sarah was at one of my sessions with Stevie Wonder. He belted out the song “Sarah” for her. David Hockney telling me that everything I was doing was wrong while photographing him was life changing!

James Taylor
David Hockney

Bukowski Image Merch Collaboration

Please tell us about the @bukowskigrams account. What is happening there?
I made a portrait of the writer Charles Bukowski in 1983 that many years later became an iconic image. Many people have appropriated, a few have actually bought or asked permission. One of the latter turned into a major collaboration with the design house @_huemn in Delhi, India. Tattoos, book covers, drawings, sculptures, murals, t-shirts, logos of bars around the world, furniture, mugs, and a pair of custom Converse Chuck Taylors. I have been finding them on Instagram for the last four years and compiling them there on @bukowskigrams. Very funny, very flattering.

“Most of my travel work was done in India where I feel like a kid in a candy store with my camera”

How do you approach travel photography? Are these set up? Do you know these people? How do you do it?
Most of my travel work was done in India where I feel like a kid in a candy store with my camera. So much beauty, color, life, energy, spirit, and dignity even in the poorest areas. I toured the Mahim Slum in Mumbai; great sense of pride in the people there. Locals in India generally love being photographed. I always ask and try to engage in a fun way. Still lifes are everywhere in the streets; sometimes the aromas lure you somewhere. People there are so engaging and curious.

Tell us about your images from Kashmir. When were you there and what were you doing?
I was in Kashmir with my friend Pranav, one of the designers at @_huemn. We had developed a successful portrait series for the line, Huemn Stories. I photographed a few photojournalists, artists, activists in and around Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir. Extraordinary place, wonderful people.

Where is the next place you want to travel to?
Scandinavia, Iceland and Greenland.

How do you feel about your previous portrait work? Some people don’t like to look back, only forward, some people are all about their archive.
I love my previous work, but enjoy sharing what is newer.

“Grandparenting has inspired me to take better care of myself”

How has becoming a grandfather impacted you?
Becoming a grandpa has forced me to reassess and accept where I am in my life without giving much importance to my age. Grandparenting has inspired me to take better care of myself, stay strong and recall for the sake of my own creativity and growth what it was like to experience the world from a child’s point of view.

I had a well known photographer once tell me that to become a better photographer he had to become a better person. How do feel about that?
I don’t necessarily agree per photography, but I think everyone should strive to improve the quality of their life and spirit and be a good neighbor.

Any heroes out there you wish you could photograph?

Creative Inspiration

Where do you look for inspiration?
Under normal circumstances, I visit museums regularly. The Getty shows remarkable photography and I love The Hammer Museum. Almost anything film noir. I have a fascination with 1930s Germany as my family was forced to flee from there in the late ’30s. The work of other photographers. Favorites: Helmut Newton, Richard Avedon, Sarah Moon, Weegee, Irving Penn, Ralph Gibson, Robert Frank, Sebastião Salgado…the list is long.

Mark Hanauer Self Portrait for AGEIST

Staying Active During Covid

How are you occupying yourself during Covid?
I ride my bicycle a lot through the city. No traffic, great weather, and clean streets from the recent rains has made it fun to ride around LA the last few weeks. Rode with my friend and colleague Diego Uchitel yesterday; he pushed me hard up a more challenging climb than I am used to. 

Like a lot of people, I watch amazing TV, most notably, My Brilliant Friend, on HBO. Remarkable series. Also cooking and enjoying the process; practicing the ukulele.

All photos copyright Mark Hanauer




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David Stewart
David is the founder and face of AGEIST. He is an expert on, and a passionate champion of the emerging global over-50 lifestyle. A dynamic speaker, he is available for panels, keynotes and informational talks at david@agei.st.


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