Hannes Schmid, inventor of the Marlboro Man – living stories instead of just experiencing

02. August 2016 – Katharina Schlangenotto

Close your eyes and imagine a cowboy. Which picture comes to mind? Most probably, you see a the silhouette of a man with a lasso on a wild horse in front of a red sunset in the middle of the wide prairie, a cigarette dangling from his lips. Hannes Schmid is the artist who invented the myths of a cowboy. It was when he was engaged by Marlboro to shoot the new campaign to carry the image of the brand. Mission fulfilled. He created something that will never die.

A life like a splendid summer bunch

His life seems like a splendid summer bunch. Born in 1946, he started as electrician and lightning engineer, he recounts. In 1968, he could no longer deny his wanderlust and moved to South Africa where he worked for AEG Telefunken, one of the largest electronic corporations at that time. As a hobby, he started photographing and quickly realized that he had found his true passion. Instead of theoretical studies, which he started but gave up shortly after, he learned from learning by doing. Obviously the best possible way for him. ’I never intended to become famous’, he says. ’I was just always curious and wanted to discover new things. I had the urge to try something new and create what did not exist before.’

An adventurer at heart

Hannes Schmid certainly not only is a great artist but also a true adventurer with no fear when it comes to risk. He lived in the deep djungle of Sumatra as well as in the highlands of Papa-Neuguninea when he was asked by a friend to find out more about the background of Michael Rockefeller, the anthropoligist who went missing in 1961 while shooting a documentary about two rival cannibals. He climbed 64.584 feet high Mount Kala Patthar, vis-á-vis of Mount Everest and took over the lead of a diving school in the Maldives when a friend fell sick.

Each trip, each single experience was an inspiration for his unique photographies. For him, life as such counts, not just experiences crossing our ways. He needs to dive into the atmosphere of what ever he is going to shoot, he needs to absorp. His mission is to get this one and only moment that is crucial for a photographer. ’At the end, it is just this one moment which is captured’, he says. ’Everything else has no value because it is gone.’ He also says that he always followed his vision, however, with an open mind that always left room for changes.

From 1974 to 1984, he accompanied some 250 rock bands and took some amazing shoots at Live Concerts and portrayed the rockstars of that time. Not long after, the fashion industry discovered him, not many large brands who would not ask him to shoot campaigns for them. Models loved him for his crazy ideas and artistic production. Today, he is dedicated to conceptual art and puts his photographies into new and modern settings.

He has initiated the project ’Smiling Gecko’, a charity supporting children in need and their families in Cambodia. On stage, he appears rather tiny, wiry and noticeable attentive eyes. When he speaks, it is crystal clear that he is one of those geniuses, full of vision, ideas, creativity and drive.

In his speeches which he gives in German, English and of course Swiss-German, he shares his success stories in a very personal way. He talks about motivation, globalization, cross culture and, last but not least, art. Not only adventurers at heart will love his powerful messages which leave his audience behind with nothing but inspiration and the sudden will to go out there and make a difference. Meeting and listening to Hannes Schmid is a great pleasure, honour and sometimes leaves one speechless. Afterwards, a lot seems very different. Maybe it is because his wisdom advice results from life as such – and not just experiences. Make sure to profit from Hannes Schmid and his incomparable knowledge. Contact us today at hannes.schmid@premium-speakers.com

Hannes Schmid

Photographic Artist, Adventurer & Painter - The Marlboro Man