Trough the lens - Gstaad Glam, pre Assouline03.02.2023 Arts & Culture, Local News, Lifestyle, Gstaad Living, Archiv
Siegfried Kuhn was a Swiss press photographer who worked for various magazines and newspapers from 1959 to 1995. Every winter, he went “celebrity hunting” in Gstaad. Now his book about his work has been published. It is a photographer’s autobiography and a source of photo-historical information about a bygone era.
The book is simply entitled “Siegfried Kuhn - Press Photographer 1959-1995”, and the author devotes the chapter “Gstaad and Celebrities” to his work in Gstaad. Born in 1931, he tells of his assignments and experiences with celebrities from around the world whom he met and photographed in Gstaad. And he had them all in front of his camera: Queen Juliana of Holland, Prince Rainier with Grace Kelly and the entire Monegasque princely family, the Shah of Persia, Willy Brandt, the American flautist Elaine Schaffer, the American senator Edward Kennedy, the German footballer Günther Netzer and last but not least, Liz Taylor, Richard Burton, Brigitte Bardot, Gunter Sachs, Roger Moore, Curd Jürgens and so on.
Advantages of being “married to a local"
"My wife Maja and I always spent the weeks over the festive season during the winter in Gstaad. But it was far from a holiday, on the contrary: we started early in the morning to hunt for celebrities. I was on the prowl all day and often stayed out until late at night. It was a huge help that we were able to live with the parents of my wife Maja, a native of Gstaad.” Kuhn writes in his book and explains that as “married to a local”, he benefited from many relationships and acquaintances. “A network that often gave me an advantage over the paparazzi. At the same time, this also helped me to be uninhibited in my dealings with the rich and famous.” Kuhn’s stories and anecdotes are entertaining, exciting, often funny and surprising stories about how his photos came about. For example, when Roger Moore agreed to be photographed milking a cow. The Bond actor, who was guided to the set in his car with Kuhn’s wife as codriver, surprised everyone with his skills: He had already learned to milk as a child on his uncle’s farm.
The people are no longer the same
How did Siegfried Kuhn know who was where and when? The retired press photographer tells us that the Gstaad Palace and the Park Gstaad were very secretive and discreet. “I never got a tip from them. The taxi drivers, Hedi Donizetti from the Hotel Olden and the ski instructors were more helpful,” he says jokingly. Even the Schönried hotelier Fredy von Siebenthal from the Hotel Alpenrose sometimes let him into his hotel, where otherwise no paparazzi had access. Once the Hotel Palace had celebrated a soirée with many celebrities. Siegfried Kuhn was invited along with other photographers. One of the paparazzi did not have suitable clothing. “Ernst Scherz brought our colleague a dinner jacket so he could enter and do his job,” Kuhn recalls. Those were the days. The Gstaad of the 50s, 60s and 70s had a completely different flair than today’s, he sums up. Back then, he used to meet the celebrities in front of the hotels when they strapped their skis onto their cars in the morning - long before Gstaad became carfree. “Back then, Gstaad was the hotspot for all celebrities. Today it’s no longer like that. The people are no longer the same,” says Kuhn.
BASED ON AVS | KEREM S. MAURER
For over three decades, Siegfried Kuhn was on the road as a photographer for the iconic magazine, “Schweizer Illustrierte”. Based on photos, reportages and many important documents, Kuhn tells many stories from the perspective of behind the camera. Photos that appeared on cover pages and in reports are juxtaposed with those that did not make it into print. In addition to being a display of photos and a reading experience, this book is a photo-historical source of information about a bygone era for which monographs are still rare. The book gives a refreshing insight into the creation of press photographs and their way into magazines. It makes the everyday life of a reporter: between sensation and routine tangible, often marked by hours of waiting until the decisive click. Publisher Fotobüro Bern, Verlag Scheidegger & Spiess AG, Zürich. ISBN: 978-3-03942-041-4 (The book is in German)