Behind the Lens: Armin Morbach on Paris, Pandemonia and Patrick Demarchelier
Very little remains conventional in the world of Armin Morbach.
“Avoiding stereotypes is natural for me. I love beauty, but that doesn’t mean perfection” Morbach began. “It can be anything that feels special and inspiring”. The photographer, who was a favourite of Karl Lagerfeld and Patrick Demarchelier has spent his creative career challenging clichés around the fashion industry.
Most recently, Morbach’s surrealist works grace the covers of TUSH Magazine, one of the most prominent magazines in the German-speaking world, where Mr Morbach is currently the publisher and the Editor-in-Chief.
The provocative photography of Armin Morbach emerged over 13 years ago after he first picked up a camera in 2007. In the years that followed, Morbach refined his ability to capture ‘position rather than pose’, though, this is not all that separates the photographer’s work from the crowd.
“The photography style itself is rather classic, but the subject is not”
“I think the controversy I create: the tension of classic and crazy is unique, and that is what makes it special”. In the case of Morbach’s work, ‘special’ is not an exaggeration, as the individuality of this photographer has seen him work alongside the likes of Patrick Demarchelier and Karl Lagerfeld, before shooting with Dior for a Dior Beauty Special for TUSH.
Among these icons, the photographer shared how the German photographer, Peter Lindbergh, was the most surprising to work with. “He was such a nice and polite man” he began, before expanding on the background of his collaboration with Dior, which was the product of a friendship with the creative director of Christian Dior make-up.
“I already knew Peter Philips for a long time. We met when I was still working as a hairstylist. He is a good enrichment”.
Counting global fashion powerhouses among his admirers is all in a days work for Armin Morbach, who then discussed the photographers whom he adores. “My favourite photos are old photographs of F.C.Gundlach and haute-couture pictures. I like them because they are so for away from my art”.
“Classic aesthetics inspire me a lot. Fashion photography from the 60s and 70s, But also pop culture, with its sometimes absurd protagonists”.
When Armin is not behind the camera, he is behind the scenes as the Editor-in-Chief at TUSH Magazine, where he has worked since 2005. The secrets to one of Germany’s most influential publications lay, in the words of Armin, in the team of “passionate creatives” who all share a similar vision. “They want to create in order to inspire” began Morbach in his discussion of TUSH’s success. “I think it is very important to give those around me the freedom to try and express themselves too.
Beauty and fashion make us dream. Dreams of freedom, confidence or just happiness. They inspire us to celebrate differences rather than hiding them.
We want to showcase a colourful society and culture where there is space for many styles and aesthetics. Yet, I am always looking for quality, in ideas and execution. Being different only is not enough, it needs a story or idea”.
The process of shooting a cover for TUSH begins with a vision, which Morbach and his team often create in a matter of minutes, as Armin explained. “I have a certain vision, and can make it a reality very quickly, because I know exactly what I want, and my team does too. So, this process is usually only a matter of minutes. Of course, My favourite step in the process is seeing the printed cover. My favourite shoot for TUSH was ‘Planking in Paris’. It was a really spontaneous shoot, and at this time, it was a brand new trend. It was my biggest success with TUSH”.
To unwind, the Hamburg-based editor and photographer shared that he takes long walks with his three dogs around his studio in northern Germany. However, Morbach revealed that he is not entirely influenced by Hamburg’s hip creative scene, but, rather, he thrives in his own serene space.
“I don’t need a big scene around me. I am my own scene”.
“I live a quiet life in the forest, which I enjoy a lot. My creativity flows best in personal surroundings: my home, my studio, and my office. This is where I feel free”.
Through his position at a fashion and beauty-based magazine, Armin Morbach certainly recognises the relationship between art and fashion, which is similarly a central theme at Runway Gallery. “Absolutely, it is a big influence” stated Morbach, when asked if his knowledge in art and photography influences his work across the two industries.
“Many stylistics from art can be adapted to fashion and beauty, and turned into something completely new”.
In recognising the parallels between the fashion and art worlds, Armin continued to share his admiration for the artists at Runway Gallery, most specifically Pandemonia, who Morbach has previously worked alongside. “I already worked with Pandemonia, and I would like to work with her again. She is very cool” shared the photographer, who continued to share how, if he were to shoot for any figure from any point of history, he would choose Salvador Dalí. “In my head, his pictures appear the same as my own pictures”, shared Morbach in his fondness for the Spanish artist.
Since taking office at TUSH, Armin Morbach published IRONY, his first illustrated book, which complied ten years of the photographer’s creations, which has blessed the bookshelves of Germany and beyond since 2017. With an enviable photographic portfolio, a magazine and a book under his belt, the question is, what can possibly be next for Armin? “Together with a great cooperation, I am producing TUSH make-up. Also TUSH is going to be a TV Show”.
We are going to quite literally stay tuned, to see what the future holds for both TUSH Magazine, and the wonderful world of Armin Morbach.