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The Special Effects Master of Photography

Copyright by Thomas Herbrich.


“Surprise yourself and your audience!” That's the mantra of Thomas Herbrich, photographer and photo manipulating extraordinaire. With a client list that includes BMW, Mercedes Benz, Sony, Toyota, Volkswagen, Ikea and Lego, this professional is sought after for making brands come alive. More than that, he takes photos more or less the same way an artist paints a picture or a filmmaker adds special effects: with an endless amount of imagination. His spectacular scenes are meant to look realistic but always incorporate a strange twist.

Herbrich tells us that he always asks himself this one question: “What would I not expect here?”

He's been called a “magic man” by Digital Photo Pro because he meshes together handcrafted models, stock imagery and digital manipulation to create stunning scenes. For instance, in the paper wave (first photo, above), Herbrich photographed 1,000 pieces of paper and then reduced them in size through photocopying.

Look below to see one of his sets. “For spectacular photos you often need spectacular sets,” he says. “A real spectacular location is hard to find, and would cost a nightmare to build it real size. Smaller mock-ups are the best way to photograph it.”



Copyright by Thomas Herbrich.

Copyright by Thomas Herbrich.

Copyright by Thomas Herbrich.

Copyright by Thomas Herbrich.

Copyright by Thomas Herbrich.

Copyright by Thomas Herbrich.

Copyright by Thomas Herbrich.

Copyright by Thomas Herbrich.

Copyright by Thomas Herbrich.

Copyright by Thomas Herbrich.

Copyright by Thomas Herbrich.

Copyright by Thomas Herbrich.

Copyright by Thomas Herbrich.

When I asked Herbrich what advice he'd give to aspiring photographers, he was kind enough to send over two pages of notes.

Here were the highlights:

“Before you start, you should find out who you really are. Photography is always a kind of storytelling and this story is always yours, your view and your experience.”

“‘Show me your pictures, and I'll tell you who you are.' There is a lot of truth to that sentence.”

“Imagine a photographer, who takes very wild fashion photography. This person probably has a total different personality than a photographer of architecture! Can you figure out what kind of desk both people would have? The desk of the architectural photographer might be very orderly, everything has its own place there. The desk of the fashion guy? Might be a kind of ‘creative chaos.' What I want to say with this example: Your photography should fit perfect with your personality. And your personality can increase a lot with photography.”

“A good photographer can take a good picture in every field. But he or she is a master only in a few – you should find out which is yours.”

Thomas Herbrich's website
All Photos: Copyright by Thomas Herbrich

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