User-Stories #5: Jan Maschinski

Jan Maschinski is a photographer based in Germany. The main subject of his work, he says, is the display of inner human conditions on the outer body.

When and why did you start taking pictures?
When I was 21, my partner and I decided to study photography. Only then, we did buy a camera and learned using it. Because of this late start, it might be the reason why I have no real interest in the tradition of photography. Around this time, we started watching other art-works and pursue a career as art and commercial photographers.

How would you describe your work? Is it playful, is it critical?
My work is playful but also has a serious core. I would not go as far and call it critical, as I am mostly working on personal topics and live through experiences again, to transform those cryptically in pictures. Those themes are often very private which is why I don’t explain them. This way, we don’t get a description of an emotion. In my opinion, everything a viewer sees can be right (from his point of view), so I just offer a lot of possible solutions to a picture.

What kind of topics are you working with? 
Most of the time, my pictures deal with psychological or mental topics, always revolving around experiences I gathered throughout my life. Stylistically, I always work media reflective, so personal experiences, sayings, fairytales and even advertisement and fashion influenced my style of how I show things.

One of your series is called "Choke" It's my personal favorite - what is the story behind it? What was its process?
It started out with ideas I had in mind, which did not belong to a series (at first). As photography can be playful, and the act of taking pictures liberating, I just started taking pictures where I did not have a series in mind. I collected those over time on a blog, and noticed that there are still similarities.

Your work seems very conceptual and every image seems to take a lot of preparation. Is the photograph a documentation or is it all done purely for a photograph?
The single picture is never a documentation. Every picture I take exists as an idea in my head. I barely change something afterwards. For choke, I realize the picture as soon as I get the idea. Most of the time, the post-processing takes more time than the act of photographing it. For vortex, I might write down the idea first, to look for the right actor afterwards. Sometimes, I can see myself in somebody, which enables me to take a picture with this person, which is seldom the case.

Do you have favorite artists?
I like aspects of different artists, but I don’t really have favourite ones. I don’t limit myself to photography. I can find inspiration in paintings, installations, movies, fairytails and such. I like works of Korehiko Hino and Toshio Saeki. Some photobooks I like are from Ren Hang, Daniel Gordon, Asger Carlsen and Roger Ballen. You can see I’m mostly enjoying very contemporary artists.

What would you like to accomplish in near future? Any plans?
Earning the $$$ and work on the free projects I want and like.
Jan Maschinski