All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players.
Seb Agnew is a photo artist based in Hamburg, Germany. Within staged and often dreamlike sceneries, he explores the human psyche and our modern society. Disorientation, momentary solitude and lonesome reflection are recurring themes within Seb’s conceptual body of work. His images are strongly characterized by elaborate set design, distinctive lighting and carefully arranged composition. In order to create his surreal, mysterious and cinematic settings, Seb transforms whole rooms or builds his locations completely as miniature sets in which he later integrates his life-size models.
During his studies of “Audiovisual Media” (B.Eng.) in Stuttgart, Germany, Seb specialized in photography and post production to lay the foundations of his future work. In order to pass on his skills professionally, he later studied “Vocational Education” (M.Ed., B.Sc.) at the university of Hamburg, Germany.
Today, Seb is excited to be able to work independently as a photo artist and to teach aspiring photographers at the “Vocational School for Media and Communication” in Hamburg, Germany.
Every photo Seb creates starts with an initial idea. He takes his time to thoroughly plan a whole series of pictures which share the same concept but are individual motives at the same time. After intensive brainstorming and note-taking, Seb usually spends a couple of weeks planning each photo shoot. This involves the location, set design, lighting, props, models and technical aspects which need to be considered.
Set design is the basis of Seb’s work. Depending on the image, this can be as simple as rearranging an existing location, but it can also mean transforming a room into a completely new scenery. Some ideas require locations that either don't exist or would be too difficult, time-consuming or expensive to construct as life-size sets. In this case, Seb makes use of miniature sets which he completely designs and builds by himself.
Miniature sets allow Seb to realize his visions without any contraints. Rooms can be exactly as he imagines them to be – including furniture and props. Integrating “real” people into his miniature sceneries requires careful planning ahead – Seb is always striving for perfection in matching perspective, lighting and atmosphere.
Similar to film sets, Seb’s photos make use of selected props which add to the mood and narrative of the situation. Seb enjoys covering ordinary rooms in ordinary objects, creating dreamlike sceneries which reflect a person’s psyche.
Seb deeply believes in the power of lighting when it comes to telling a story and creating atmosphere. Since normal rooms are often restricted in size, he mostly works with a multitude of speedlights which can easily be modified to his needs. When working with miniatures, Seb makes sure to have the same look and feel as in his life-size photo sets. For this, he works with equally small, often custom-built light sources.
Shooting life-size sets is rather a quick step in Seb’s workflow – compared to all the preplanning and lighting that goes into each picture. When shooting miniatures, this is, of course, a bit different since the model needs to be captured separately. Matching perspective and lighting realistically means that the light sources and colours from the miniature set have to be recreated in the studio. For best results, some parts of the miniature sets are rebuilt in life-size scale.
In order to capture the fine details of his sceneries, Seb works with cameras and lenses that provide high resolution images and crisp sharpness. This also ensures beautiful large-format fine art prints.
Seb’s goal is always to capture as much as possible in camera, instead of relying too much on post processing. Still, post production is an indispensable step when finishing his images. Apart from precise colour corrections and selective adjustments, Seb often creates invisible photo composites with the help of Adobe Photoshop.
Nothing is more impressive than a carefully crafted fine art print. Since Seb’s images contain lots of details, they are not meant to be viewed solely on screens. It is a totally different experience to see his photographs printed, especially in large format on beautiful cotton paper. For more information, make sure to visit his “Prints”-section.