EDITION: August - October '08


The Austrian photographer, Erwin Gabriel, comes to Ibiza every year to relax and work. He is even planning to shoot a film on the island.

Erwin Gabriel’s remarkable artistic success could be blamed on a cheeky bet. It was 2001 and he was having a discussion with a photographer friend of his in Miami Beach. Erwin claimed it was easy to be a good photographer and boasted that within ten years he would be famous. “It was a good gag,” says Erwin today, “and it has become my motor in a way.” High-spirited and self confident, he set off with a simple canon camera but soon realised that taking good photos wasn’t that easy after all. However, Erwin seems to be a lucky man and he managed to sell all his photos on Miami Beach.

Irene & Erwin
Luck is something that is a regular feature in Erwin’s life. He decided he would knock on the door of the famous men’s magazine, Penthouse, in an aim to make some money to cover costs. He wrote down the address and drove to Germany. As good fortune would have it the editor had been thinking about a particular idea for a photo shoot and Erwin happened to have exactly those photographs with him – a model in a private jet. Those pictures launched his commercial career and since then he has done numerous Penthouse covers and by 2006 he was already named one of the magazines best photographers.

The tall Austrian was born in 1952 and first did an apprenticeship in mechanical engineering. He worked as a technical designer, interior designer and in real estate until he finally landed in the catering business which is still part of his livelihood today. All his businesses were successful, he says, but none of this would have been possible without the indispensable support of his wife, Irene. For 34 years they have been working side by side.

Their passion for photography is nothing new. Since the seventies Erwin and Irene have been fascinated by this visual medium. Today they run what they call an ‘erotic family business’. Erwin is the photographer/director, Irene is in charge of the post-production – she chooses the pictures and makes digital changes – and their daughter is the set designer and make-up artist.

A prestigious job for the family was creating the “Viagra calendar” for the pharmaceutical company, Pfizer (meanwhile they are already working on the third calender – for 2009). Here Irene’s work can be admired – the photographs each have one red element, which has been digitally enhanced.

Another achievement – and rather a sur-prise for Erwin – was winning a gold medal at an international photography competition in 2005. But one of the largest platforms for the Gabriels today is the satellite channel Fashion TV. After just two years, Erwin is noted as one of their most popular photographers and he already has his own video stream called Midnight Hot.

In fact filming is the next big project for the family. Erwin, whose favourite word is ‘Action’, claims “The moving picture will push photography aside. In the future every train station, dental surgery and hotel will have screens showing -videos”. He believes that photography for him is just a step on the way to fulfilling his ultimate crowning dream to direct films for the cinema.

By the autumn he intends to really say ‘Action’ and start the film cameras rolling. One of his new film projects – an erotic thriller – is to be set in Ibiza. The island is an important fixture in his life and the family has been coming here for 30 years. It is a place where they relax and soak up the incredible energy of the island. They will be spending September here to prepare film locations and do some photo shoots.

So what is Erwin’s secret to success? “Timing, luck, coincidence, talent, personality and the ability to talk to people,” he suggests, “and network, network, network.” Ten years have not even passed yet since Erwin Gabriel made that silly bet in Miami, but he is on the best way to becoming a household name. He says he will have properly won the bet when he has some photographs printed in Vogue magazine, preferably the cover shot.
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