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Frank Kayser's »theRBook«: Only Porsche on my mind

Someone once said about Frank Kayser's pictures that they were interesting not only at first glance, but also at the second. Which gives the 824 pictures of the legendary »R Gruppe« in his »theRBook« twice the weight. Sounds like 824 good reasons to talk to Kayser about his new book. And of course also about the »R Gruppe« itself.

Interview: Marko Knab Photo: Frank Kayser 28.05.2020 7 min

Over the years he has become more puristic. Says Frank Kayser about Frank Kayser. That means: The photographer stages or retouches less elaborately. For him, the perfect picture is created by precise planning before production, during the shooting by choosing the object, the picture detail and the shot at the right moment. Very analogue, this approach. But also pure and damn authentic. Just like the »R Gruppe« he portrayed in »theRBook«. It fits: it is probably the most exclusive, but also the most individualistic Porsche Club ever. We need to talk about that.

Hello Frank! After the release of »theRBook«, did you move up a few places on the waiting list for the »R Gruppe«? Or were you accepted directly?

Actually I was already accepted before that! (laughs) Since last May I'm the member with the number 800. But they didn't take me in because I've now made a particularly »nice« book. I could have made ten books. But because we are simply »Brothers in Mind«. Mavericks among ourselves. And old air-cooled Porsches have always been my thing. You could say that on both sides it was the famous love at first sight!

How was your monumental work received by the members?

The »R Gruppe« members received their books in a Pre Edition which is only available for members three weeks ago - of course it was on everyone's lips. And the feedback was huge! There are people who speak what feels like three words a week. Like real lumberjacks, tattooed with long beards and real giants. One of them has now written me a whole thank-you letter and tells me how much his wife likes the book. After her stay in hospital it was the first thing she wanted to see. She didn't just look at it, she literally stroked every picture in the book. To hear something like that is phenomenal.

Can you describe the attitude towards life of this »R Gruppe« in three words?

Difficult! The late Cris Huergas got it quite well: »It's not just a car club, it's a brotherhood.« But I'll give it a try anyway: Barrier-free, unconventional, just driving.

And how does that sound in complete sentences?

There are simply guys from all walks of life. People stand together, you can rely on your wingman. They'll even chip in for someone else if they can't pay their health insurance. Or donate to charity. The millionaire driving next to the butcher is just great. And then there's that short line from Chad McQueen: »Good driving fun.« He chose these three words in an interview for the book. And that's actually the best word for it: It's just a club that's all about driving together and cars.

You followed the self-proclaimed »Brotherhood« with the camera for a good year and a half. Did one experience in particular remain in your memory?

Sure! It was at the »Racing Reunion VI« in Laguna Seca two years ago. The »R Gruppe« had its own corral there, i.e. a separate area on the grounds. In the middle of the paddock, a huge honor. Suddenly someone gives a signal and everyone starts the engines. Goosebumps. I just thought to myself: Wow! The sound of thirty historic Porsches all warming up at once. And then they're off, like in an old Western where the cavalry charges. The Americans have a good term for it: »Show up in force.« It's a military term, but it best describes the situation. Before that, I didn't really know who the »R Gruppe« was. After that I knew: I had to meet these guys.

Porsche and the USA have had a special place with you for quite some time. Was the book the logical consequence?

Yes, indeed! Porsche and America are a great fit since the 1950s. Especially California: the Wild West, the »Land of the Free«. Many individualists sought their freedom and peace there. It is this »California Attitude«: Let me live my own thing. And the cars just fit in. The book project also came at just the right time. I was a bit underchallenged by the everyday life as an advertising photographer. I didn't just want to take good pictures anymore, it's just important for me to be authentic, to transport real emotions with my pictures. In my previous book Project (Porsche Werkseinsatz), when I documented the deployments at the legendary 24-hour races with the Porsche factory teams, it was the team spirit and the unconditional commitment that inspired me. And with the »R Gruppe« it is now this love of life and this individuality. And all that without arrogance.

The »R Gruppe« is considered the somewhat different Porsche Club. So is »theRBook« the somewhat different Porsche book?

I think we are showing a brand essence. The car brings people together here. Not many brands do that. The book should therefore be as real and authentic as the »R Gruppe«. Without compromise. For example, the bookbinder destroyed 200 copies during the production process just to make sure that the embossing fits perfectly. That is quite a damage. But no matter! Time and again the sentence has been said that I would have set myself a monument with this. But I don't want that at all. I simply wanted to make an uncompromising book that people will still like twenty years from now.

824 photographs on 580 pages is a lot of material. What do you tell someone who says you couldn't decide which pictures to put in the book?

Sometimes you just need more than one picture to tell a good story. Of course, a single one can be enough to run a whole movie in the viewer's head. But sometimes not. Especially when you talk about the details of the cars, for example, which tell the story of the folks. You simply need more. In fact, I had a total of 4000 pictures that deserved to be in the book.

Are there already plans for a sequel then? Or what is your next project?

Actually the project »theRBook« continues. The book itself is the hero, but in the end it transports a philosophy of life. And this book is going to travel soon and will come to the people. We're planning talks and a fine art exhibition tour with big prints of our pictures from the book. there are also the really cool films we produced during the travels and we're trying to include something very new, namely augmented reality in the project »TheRBook on Tour«. Maybe we will do something completely different, which nobody expects. The words of Jim Brazil from the book actually hit the spot: »This whole culture we created is gonna stay.«


The »R Gruppe«

This somewhat different Porsche Club was founded in California in 1999. The German name was chosen deliberately and pays homage to the 911 R from 1967. To become a member, you must own a Porsche manufactured in 1973 or earlier - and hope that a place will become available. Because the number of members is strictly limited to 300. By the way, Steve McQueen received the membership number 001. Posthumously. The »King of Cool« is a style icon, rebel and racing driver, unbending, stubborn and wild. The members of the club should also be quite well described with this.

theRBook.

580 pages, 824 photographs.

Commercial edition: Half-cloth binding, 3-sided colored edging, hot foil stamping. Price: 180.00 Euro

Limited 700: Hardcover, 3-sided colored edging, hot foil stamping, in slipcase. Price: 300.00 Euro

»theRBook« is not available in bookstores or on Amazon, as Kayser publishes the book himself. Instead, the work can be ordered from selected partners such as 43einhalb or on the specially created website:

theRBook