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Special Edition : Cheyco Leidmann


It was June 1978, issue #129 of PHOTO.
A portfolio entitled Operation Helico and signed Cheyco Leidmann.
This unknown that the artistic director of PHOTO: Eric Colmet Daage published 3 times in a year became one of the stars of photography at the time.
His first book Foxy Lady and then a second Banana Split were going to be publishing triumphs.
It is to him and his partner Ypsitylla von Nazareth that we dedicate this day!


PHOTO 1978
Operation Helicopter
Aerial photos ordered from Leidmann… who abhors the void

Nothing, really nothing destined Cheyco Leidmann, a young German photographer of twenty-nine, to take these amazing helicopter photos. First of all, he hehe B is terrified of air transport and an uncontrollable terror for the evolutions of this big insect which suspends you in the void and forces you to lean out of the door for the ghost of a chance to take a picture. And then Leidmann has only one photographic garden: fashion and beauty. But now, for the four years that he has been a photographer, he has only been offered advertising shots for beer, cigarettes, household products and cars. His calendar for BMW even won one of the prizes in the international Kodak competition in 1976. Since then, the German helicopter brand MBB (Messerschmidt – Bölkow _ Blohm) has never stopped accepting a Hollywood budget for a prestige calendar showing its products. So Leidmann agreed, stifled his fear and wandered for a month over Bavaria, northern Germany, Scotland, the North Sea, the Alps and Switzerland. “It’s a hell of a job, he says, to photograph from a helicopter. First, there are incessant air pockets. Then, a helicopter moves very quickly, which imposes, to obtain a good framing, a large number of back and forth, messages, indications and movements. Finally, in order not to have the rotor blades in the viewfinder, it is necessary, for each shot, to synchronize a precise piloting movement with the acrobatics of the photographer, “plunging” downwards through the open door. One day, this way, my cell got loose. The pilot was pale. “If it hit anything, we crashed,” he told me. Today, Cheyco Leidmann is no longer afraid of the helicopter. He nevertheless refused to make a new schedule for the MBB. He left Munich and settled in Paris, in the shadow of Square Carpeaux. He thought he was getting closer to fashion and beauty clichés. It has not happened. He is still as solicited by advertising, but he is still waiting for his first “editorial” chance. We wish it for him…


PHOTO 1979
Success obliges: Cheyco Leidmann aimed for “fashion”, but it was advertising that made him famous

Exactly one year ago, we published Cheyco Leidmann’s first portfolio: its helicopters. Leidmann had just left Munich to settle in Paris, in the shade of Square Carpeaux. He thus thought of devoting himself more to fashion and beauty photography, his only true photographic passion. It has not happened. He is still as solicited by advertising and is still waiting for his first “editorial” chance. His long walk took him to Los Angeles, where he decided to settle down for a while. There, he was offered a golden bridge to make two calendars and various advertising campaigns. Cheyco Leidmann is therefore still torn between the dissatisfaction of being kept away from the “world of chiffon” and the happiness of having become, in three years, one of the most gifted and in demand photographers of his generation.

Cheyco Leidmann scrupulously respected the contract of his marriage of convenience with the “pub”, . He who, a few months ago, declared: “I don’t know anything about the technique, I am unable to redo a photo already taken, I don’t understand anything about all this complicated stuff. There are even buttons on my device that I don’t know how to use. Sometimes I get help from friends…”. All these provocations are forgotten today.

With his extremely precise, colorful, staged images, Cheyco Leidmann is not far from taking over from the great American colourists, although, like so many others, the question is; “What are your photographic influences? “, they answer the same name, tirelessly repeated: “Guy Bourdin, Guy Bourdin, Guy Bourdin…”.

This admiration is also expressed in his photos, which are nevertheless very personal…


PHOTO 1982
The Prince of Advertising
Cheyco Leidmann: “In six months, I’m quitting”

“In six months, I will stop photography. I pick up. Definitively ? I don’t know yet, probably, yes…”

This is how Cheyco Leidmann took advantage of his latest book “Bananasplit”, published by Love Me Tender, to announce his retirement from the still photography at the age of thirty-three. Curious career than that of this German living in Paris, darling of “PHOTO” which made him known in 1978: in full success, he chooses to go elsewhere to see what is happening.

“24-hour photography is too hard. Daily creativity is impossible or else I will end up copying others or plagiarizing myself. That’s what my editors wanted from you: a “Foxy lady n°2”. You have to break, regenerate, be reborn, travel, move on, change your passion. Because photography is particularly perverse, especially in advertising.

I never had the chance to be able to do fashion; maybe in this area, is it different. I love success, I love compliments but that’s no reason to wallow in it for twenty years. It is up to young people to take over. There are plenty of people who dream of this job. Let them prove themselves. I want to stop running, convincing, seducing. I even want to change my private life. I gave everything to succeed, it is normal that I was paid in return. Rich ? Not even ! I never had enough money, even now. Either way, too much or too little is the same thing.

Before leaving, I will publish my last two books. They are already finished.

Just before departure: this will be the farewell gift to those who have encouraged and loved my work. »

And then, who knows ? See you in ten years, maybe.

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