Thomas Herbrich is a skilled manipulator, primarily of photography but recently he has turned his hand to tweaking history as well. His recent book The Truth About the Moon is a fictional account of a faked landing, told realistically and with the use of actual (but manipulated) photos. He also works with smoke, model making and sausages.
What is the purpose of The Truth About the Moon? Do you believe the conspiracy theory?
Not at all, no. It's a really natural story of about 10 days set around the landing. It's 50 percent about the words and 50 percent about the pictures, which have a wonderful lower quality from the soft edge paper. I wanted to be faithful to history but also to break the rules, like I show Stanley (the main character) smoking in the spaceship.
Is there an element of paranoia to your photography?
I wouldn't say paranoia but I have mantra, which is - "Surprise yourself and your audience otherwise you won't make any progress". My images look real but also removed from reality, a conflict between what you see and what you can't see. My guru is Stanley Kubrick. I used to photograph beer bottles and toothpaste until I saw 2001 in 1975. I quit my job the day after to explore the possibilities.
You have published a series of smoke photography. Is smoke very hard to work with?
Oh yes, smoke was different. I shot 100,000 shots to get 20 good pictures. It took three months to get what I wanted, just watching a normal cigarette. Some days you can have two good shots and then you have three days with none at all. It wasn't frustrating though, I'm very patient. I didn't change the shots much; I just needed to clean the shape a little. I used a camera that captured a 10,000th of a second.
Our current issue is themed around government. How is Merkel doing for you guys?
I didn't attach any meaning to her until I saw her at the last soccer event (World Cup 2006). She was in the stadium and I thought, 'that is not a person who can do anything for the future'. She doesn't want to have any new ideas. Our politicians are not active, they are merely re-active and the CDU party is very conservative.
See more from Thomas at his website