Visionary image-maker TOMAAS creates cinematic, surreal, yet realistic fashion and beauty imagery. His work exemplifies an unique photographic experience where subject matter, atmosphere and environment fuse into a single narrative that reveals its own story.
The sense of adventure and the need to explore world led TOMAAS to New York City 18 years ago. The metropolis, home of countless artistic initiatives, constitutes his main source of inspiration. During the years he had developed his own edgy signature style which is bold and intriguing. Every detail in his photography is equally essential which truly creates an indelible impression.
It is quite impossible not to notice the different expressions of his models – vivacious and dramatic at the same time. In contrast to more traditional photographic works where art often imitates life, TOMAAS images compellingly reveal themselves in a manner that resembles cinematic images in real time.
Hi Tomaas, and welcome toSHOT magazine. How did you get introduced to photography?
As a kid I used to work in front of the camera and I I always enjoyed the energy on the set. I particularly liked the sound of the old Hasselblad cameras that were used. To me the fast, distinct sound was like magic. I think I knew back then that this is a path I would like to take but for many reasons I decided much later in life to become a professional photographer. When growing up in Europe, travelling was always a part of my life. During my years living in Europe, I visited and studied in several different European countries and captured those periods with my camera as a hobbyist. While living in New York City, I studied photography by taking several classes at the renowned International Center for Photography. Whatever formal training I may have obtained, however, I consider myself in my heart a self-taught photographer. I never formally studied photography at a college, university or an art school.
Many of your photographs use basic black. What is the relationship that you have with black?
I love moody and dramatic lighting in combination with strong saturated colors in my photo shoots. Black helps me to enforce this style.
How different is the young Tomaas from the person and the artist you are today?
I believe when I started out as a photographer my shoots resembled more or less „search and rescue“ missions. I was basically hoping to come back with some strong images. Over time I was able to develop a trademark style. I believe realizing what my trademark style is, has been very important.
When I became aware and confident of my style it helped me to visualize the story in the planning process. It’ s like a visual blueprint and I can easily decide what can be accomplished and where adjustments might be necessary. I also believe the trademark style is in constant evolution and requires fine tuning along the way but is always expressing who I am.
I read that you were inspired by the work of Alejandro Jodorowsky. What attracted you to his movies?
I think what attracted me to his movies is that the worlds he creates are fantastical, but also come from a very human place. His work is massively unpredictable with methodical madness and always contains a surreal feel to it. Not that my work is anything like Jadorrowsky’s but I see a connection to my own work. Since many of my images appear to have no connection with a particular place or time in history they have a futuristic feel to them not unlike many surrealistic works.
From your experience, have your best shots come from perfect planning or accidents?
I think often when you start to plan a shoot you are not quite sure what you might end up with in the end. The whole process is always magical to me as so many details go into executing a story. The choice of lighting, casting the model etc. It all has to come together and is often guided by instinct. Over time I have learned to be well prepared for the shoot and visualize the whole story before I push the camera button. This allows me to defer from the orginal idea during the shoot and create these accidentally shot images.
How would you describe your photographic style?
My style is often described as edgy, vibrant, and dramatic with a cinematic appeal.
If you could describe your life with one of your own photos, which one woud you choose?
I am not sure there is a particular image that would best describe my life. I would however elaborate that my style reflects my adventurous nature to constantly push forward by challenging myself with new ideas and concepts and not being afraid to leave behind ideas from the past, no matter how successful.
Tomaas. Thanks for taking part in this interview. Cheers from SHOT magazine and good luck.