The Genius of Gunther Raupp

Knotty Nawadhinsukh Words by Knotty Nawadhinsukh

I love my life for what it is right now. I really do. Not only for all the memorable cars that I get to see, feel and hear and not for the spectacular places I get to visit, but also for the great people that someone like me had been fortunate enough to meet so far.

I was introduced to the renowned photographer Gunther Raupp at one of the many private soirées held each year during the Palm Beach Cavallino Classic back in January. After a brief introduction and a conversation with this polite gentleman over a glass (or two) of the bubbly and like an absent-minded schoolboy who just remembered the answer during an exam, it just clicked inside my head that, “Oh—THAT Gunther Raupp”!

Behind the scene of the California Spider shoot

Among the devoted tifosi around the world who worship anything that is even remotely related to Ferrari, Gunther is a living legend. Now wielding his trusty digital Hasselblad, an Apple laptop, flash equipment and “my eyes, my head and my hands”, this spirited former art student from the State Academy of Arts in Stuttgart have been traveling all over the world to capture some of the most iconic images of Ferraris for nearly 35 years. Annually since 2000, all the official Ferrari calendars that one may have seen or may have already collected are all the works of Gunther.

The 488 Spider also comes with its own "scent" AND "sound" (below) in the calendar!

With 2017 being the 70th Anniversary of the Prancing Horse, it would be no doubt that the 2018 edition with the photos taken this year will be another keeper—and more. As he explained, “For 2018 you not only can see each month’s Ferrari in tremendous images: For the very first time—YOU CAN SMELL THEM TOO! You can rub certain areas on each calendar page and smell a specially-created Ferrari scent!” Now that Christmas is only around the corner, the first ever “interactive” printed Ferrari calendar would be an ideal gift for any Ferrari fans—or even just for yourself. In addition to that, Gunther’s latest work will also go digital, “in a few days there will be a digital app for smart phones and tablets which also lets you enjoy the sound of the cars!”

How did all of this transpired into a cult following for this self-proclaimed “lazy craftsman” who decided to purchase a camera to take photographs instead in the last three decades, one has to look from the beginning to figure it out. “My mother sometimes told me that as a baby I first was able to say ‘car’ and months later ‘Mom’ and ‘Dad’…”, Gunther reminisced. He continued about his humbled start in the business, “I did fashion shoots, had a food campaign and did a lot editorial photography for travel and art magazines. But if you aim for the top of the mountain you have to follow your passion. And cars have been my core passion for as long as I remember. Quite easily.”

Gunther and his trusty Dino 246 Spider - the car that cemented his relationship with Ferrari for the last three decades

Probably the most defining moment for Gunther therefore was the purchase of his Ferrari 246 Dino Spider many years ago (that he still proudly owns). From what I read some time ago, legend has it that he took pictures of it and made them into a calendar as a New Year’s gift for Il Commendatore himself, Enzo Ferrari. The relationship between Raupp and Ferrari thus grew from there. His love affair for the Dino though has to be traced back earlier, “It was in 1967—the yellow Ferrari Dino 206 S Competizione designed by Pininfarina. I immediately fell in love with this outstanding sculpture of a car and said to myself, when I grow up I’ll have a Ferrari! You can imagine how my heart was beating 25 years later when I had this very same yellow Dino in front of my camera for the Ferrari calendar!” As for his Dino Spider, “it has the DNA from the yellow Dino concept car. It is the ultimate car design. It’s clear and pure: the seduction and the sex of its curves and proportions are from another world”.

Dreams do come true - Raupp's well-known photograph of his first love, the 206 Dino S Competizione

If one was to go through the photos taken by Raupp of various Ferrari models over time, whether it is a grand tourer or a Grand Prix car, the drama in each one is evident. As he elaborated, “My style is marked by a high impact look. Bright sun but dark skies, dramatic perspectives and lighting.” This seemed like a necessity, “as calendar images my Ferrari photographs need such strong elements because they have to stay attractive for the buyer. And 30 days for each month is a very long time for anyone to look at a single image.”

"Air", the famous flying F40 shot by a real photographer using a real technique. No ropes or wires needed.

As another fan for great automotive photographs, probably my favorite series of images taken by Gunther undoubtedly be his “Fire, Water and Air” of an F40. To which “Air”—where the car literally flew off the ground—is one of two favorite images of the photographer himself. “Of course the flying F40 with all four wheels in the air is the iconic Ferrari photo. It’s an outstanding image, it’s a thrilling idea, and it’s nothing less than breathtaking. Nobody before or since has tried this.” As for his second favorite? “I took a dashboard shot of my Dino at exactly 99,999.9 kms. on the speedo—but at 240 km/h! I personally drove that stint.”

Raupp's own shot as his Dino breaks the 100,000 kilometers barrier—while doing 240 km/h and approaching red line!

Among all these talks of Ferraris, Gunther still managed to find the time working on other car manufacturers such as Audi, Volkswagen, Porsche, Jaguar and Ford in the U.S., among several others. But at the end of the day, it always goes back to the Cavallino Rampante. Gunther concluded, “Ferrari combines history, the present and the future like no other car brand in the world. The dominating elements that make up Ferrari today have been continuously present at all times in the company’s history.”

That’s one of the perks of being at a world-class event like the Palm Beach Cavallino Classic: you get to meet a world-class genius like Gunther Raupp.

You can easily view and order the official Ferrari calendars by Gunther Raupp at:

All Photos Provided by Gunther Raupp. Any reproduction is strictly prohibited.