Jan von Holleben's Process for Popular Mechanics

Jan von Holleben's Process for Popular Mechanics Allyson Torrisi, Director of Photography, at Popular Mechanics, recently shared some amazing behind-the-scenes photos with us from their recent June issue on Fatherhood, courtesy of artist Jan von Holleben. Check out the details after the jump...

Two years ago, when I first met Berlin artist Jan von Holleben and saw his work, I felt immediately that I needed to find a place for his photographs in Popular Mechanics. When it came time to produce our special Fatherhood issue, I knew the DIY home, auto, and technology sections would be the perfect settings for his work.

At a time when digital manipulation of photographs is taken for granted, von Holleben takes matters into his own hands. Like a Joseph Cornell boxed assemblage, von Holleben's finished works feel manually constructed (because they are) and also have a surreal quality, primarily because of the scale shifts and clever, surprising juxtapositions.

The photographer starts by propping sets and shooting models (humans, that is) in situ; he then makes a large print, sets it out on a table, and creates a collage by laying physical objects onto the print. Finally, he climbs a ladder and takes an overhead shot of the photograph and collage. 

This unusual photo-within-a-photo process creates an unusual-feeling finished product. The viewer finds him or herself gazing at the photograph and wondering what's "real" and what may have been introduced digitally. The answer is, all of it is real! Von Holleben's colorful palette and prop choices enhance the surreal, playful feel of the photographs. This is clearly an artist who enjoys his work, and his joy for the process and his love of photography comes through in the magic of his photos.



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