DPP Home Profiles Thomas Herbrich: Magic Man

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Thomas Herbrich: Magic Man

Using models, stock imagery and digital manipulation, Thomas Herbrich’s work unfolds from his unlimited imagination

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The ultimate “still-life” photographer, Herbrich arranges his compositions meticulously, with scores of images composited together seamlessly. He breaks down the construction of his images from start to finish on his website, even including the original concepts. Above: Landscape With Mirrors, composited from a Spanish landscape and frame constructions taken from images of New York bridges.
His first photo and text venture, a humorous alternate history titled The Truth about the Moon Landing is already well under way, and Herbrich put together another small book for a local sausage shop that was going out of business. The book was written up in the local news and, to Herbrich’s happy surprise, the shop was ultimately saved when interested tourists and locals boosted patronage. Though the print run for the book was very limited, Herbrich is proud of the result. “It’s the only sausage shop in the country with its own book!” he laughs gleefully.

Herbrich was more surprised, however, when his images and text were curated into the Visual Gallery exhibition at the 2010 Photokina convention. As it’s the largest photography trade fair in the world, being displayed at Photokina as one of only a handful of photographers in the gallery was a huge honor.

Herbrich always has been true to himself, from pursuing photography, to experimenting with film, to moving away from advertising when it didn’t fit his creative need. In this age of software manipulation, his dedication to his process and preference is even more evident by his continued use of handcrafted models in lieu of forging all effects digitally. Even though his images are composited with exquisite attention to detail and mastery of the digital tools he has created in his own digital manipulation software, Herbrich prides himself on utilizing real, three-dimensional places, persons and models to create the fantastic worlds in his photographs.

“You have synthesizers for music, you have fast food, you have artificial tastes, you have love by Internet, and all of these things that are so artificial,” he says with a more serious tone. “This is something I don’t want to follow.”

Gladiator for Volkswagen, mostly involving highly detailed models and photographing the sand floor and a range of “Roman” people, which were duplicated digitally.
Instead, Herbrich and his team—his brother, Marcus, and Nils Carstensen, who builds the models—utilize knowledge of lighting, perspective, model-making, studio photography and stock imagery to work to create the most believable construction for imagined worlds. The craft that they create is something that Herbrich is eager to share. Every image on his website, www.herbrich.com, has a link simply titled “how it was done.”

“Secrets are unprofessional!” he exclaims. “I speak about everything! I often speak about my work, and I do it with enthusiasm and humor. These lectures last for over an hour, and they’re half hardcore information and half comedy.”

Herbrich works very hard to pursue his dreams and goals, and he always has. He studied photography with dedication, spends his own time and money working with new concepts and ideas, and approaches every challenge with a free spirit. Yet he also has a courageous quality that allows him to take leaps of faith and follow his creative spark wherever it may lead. In the end, his dedication not only to his craft, but also to his own ideas has brought about a body of work that’s enchanting, lovely and often hilarious. It seems perfectly reasonable that Herbrich would be able to bring us along into his imagination, as he has always had faith in the ability to reach out and touch the impossible.

You can see more of Thomas Herbrich’s photography at www.herbrich.com. Amanda Quintenz-Fiedler is a frequent DPP contributor and an accomplished fine-art photographer. See more of her work at www.amandaquintenz.com.


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