Thomas Hoepker studied art history and archeology, then worked as a photographer for Münchner Illustrierte and Kristall between 1960 and 1963, reporting from all over the world. He joined Stern magazine as a photo-reporter in 1964.
Magnum began to distribute Hoepker‘s archive photographs in 1964. He worked as a cameraman and producer of documentary films for German television in 1972, and from 1974 collaborated with his wife, the journalist Eva Windmoeller, first in East Germany and then in New York, where they moved to work as correspondents for Stern in 1976. From 1978 to 1981 Hoepker was director of photography for the American edition of Geo.
Hoepker worked as art director for Stern in Hamburg between 1987 and 1989, when he became a full member of Magnum.Specializing in reportage and stylish color features, the prestigious Kulturpreis of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Photographie in 1968. Among many other awards for his work, he received one in 1999 from the German Ministry of Foreign Aid for Death in a Cornfield, a TV film on Guatemala. Today, Hoepker lives in New York. He shoots and produces TV documentaries together with his second wife Christine Kruchen.
He was president of Magnum Photos from 2003 to 2006. A retrospective exhibition, showing 230 images from fifty years of work, toured Germany and other parts of Europe in 2007.
“And what does he do now?” “I simply work on commission,” he says, in words that are as matter of fact as they sound. Not so the vibrant exuberance of his photography. However, he does not turn a blind eye to the misery of the world and has never succumbed to the temptation of exploiting the horrors of the afflicted locations to which he has been sent. He contradicts the cynical observation that it is often the reporter’s good fortune to record the misfortune of others, instead demonstrating in his pictures that the misfortunes of others necessarily apply to everyone. He has never failed to treat his camera as a weapon in the fight for justice.
In the final analysis, it has always been the people with all their worries, quirks and idiosyncrasies, who play the most important role. Hoepker’s unusual flair for composition invariably goes hand in hand with a profoundly humanist sensibility. Never has he forgotten the fundamental mission of a reporter: to make destinations reachable to those who cannot travel.”
Based on an article of Freddy Langer for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) in October 2021