It is rare that a series of publications emerges as a genre of its own. In the case of the Edition Lammerhuber publications, aka "Lammerhuber books", of superb quality in bibliophile terms as well, we must speak of a special artistic form that enjoys the status of a quasi solitaire. The countless exquisite photographs that make up the essence of these volumes do not just illustrate the theme in question. They form a detailed artistic narrative style that enters deep into the matter and presents the reader and viewer with multi-layered universes in a magical-poetic, passionate, marvelling, occasionally tongue-in-cheek, ironic way.

It is with such books, one each year for more than a decade now, that this extraordinary Edition approaches the organism that is the Vienna State Opera: The precious volumes, which make up the "gentlemen's give-away" at the Opera Ball, are dedicated to artistic collectives of the opera, such as the orchestra, choir, ballet and ensemble, but also to complex areas of the overall operation of the house, like repertory, or preparing a production, and of course to the big stars.

The man behind these splendid evocations is Lois Lammerhuber, Austrian photographer of international acclaim. The many hours he has spent at the Vienna State Opera and the friendships he has forged there have made him a connoisseur of this temple of art and its peculiarities like few outsiders. He has been spotted with his camera in the most unlikely nooks and crannies of the house. And because people trust him and appreciate his approach, they provide him with insider information, which in turn helps him in his work. Who else has the privilege of being phoned up by a member of the Vienna Philharmonic to alert him to the highlight expected by insiders of a forthcoming performance? (And is able to then rush into the opera house and be allowed to position himself somewhere near the stage to experience that rare moment.)

What drives Lammerhuber and stimulates his extraordinary results is his passion, utterly devoid of ambition. A passion for photography in general and the theme of the moment in particular. And yet, initially he had a quite different career in mind. He was not one of those teenagers that roam the streets, camera at the ready. No, it was in a roundabout way and by coincidence that he entered into this profession. A TV documentary series in the late 1950s about the Pan-American Highway from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego gave Lammerhuber, who had grown up in rural Austria, an idea of the beauties and mysteries of the world at large. The desire to visit these lands one day took root in his mind and after completing school and a few successful years working for IBM, he set off. What emerges even in private photographs he took at the time (and in some pictures from a later holiday with his wife in Sri Lanka) is his talent, his unfailing instinct for mathematical-geometrical proportions. By some detours these found their way into photo reports of Wochenpresse magazine. Commissions soon followed from Autorevue, Viennese and German magazines like Traveller's World, Bunte, Westermanns Monatshefte, before he became the official photo journalist of GEO magazine. There he refined his practical skills and perfected essential aspects: to make visible what seems invisible, to guide the viewer's eye sensitively towards new, unknown details of well-known places, the continuous search for intensity, the quick response to the body language of those he photographed, the ability to influence conditions in his favour, in no time to create situations and atmospheres like a movie director.

All this stood Lois Lammerhuber in good stead in countless projects that took him into large cities as well as the most remote areas on earth and grew into a wealth of experience.

Like all great creatives, Lois Lammerhuber sticks to his artistic motto of never repeating himself, of constantly creating something new. To keep his creativity up to scratch, he continues to learn every day, always checking developments in the international world of photography, collects special landmarks of photographic history, analyses good photographs as well as the image and colour compositions of great masters and graphic artists in art history museums. In addition, he organises two photo competitions jointly with his wife, Sylvia Lammerhuber, and the biggest European photo festival in Baden bei Wien.

What opened the doors of the House on the Ring for him initially was a book project he created, which documented the transformation of an opera house into a ballroom. The rest is (State Opera) history.

Andreas Láng