Project

Mask-Cult: Klaus Pichler’s Сostume Players

People involved in costume play and their subculture inspired Klaus Pichler to pursue a photo project about altar egos and its tie to reality.

Klaus Pichler 37 years

Lives in Vienna, was educated in architecture. Klaus has worked as a freelance photographer since 2005, taking part in more than 75 exhibits and displaying his work in Paris, Oslo, Prague, Warsaw, Vienna, New York and Amsterdam. His works were published in the British Journal of Photography, 24Stunden Magazin, Vice, Village Voice and Wired. He has done work for Die Zeit, the Austrian National Library, Siemens Austria and Mercedes Benz. His favorite book is On Photography by Susan Sontag.

Idea

In the last few years I have noticed more and more often that people enjoy dressing up as fictitious heroes. I decided to create a series of photographs on this theme.

The project’s name, “Just the Two of Us”, refers to heroes and their alter egos. I tried to unite the two sides of human nature in each photograph – the appearance of the alter ego in costume and the appearance of someone’s personality in the environment they find themselves in. I didn’t look for costumes or props just people who enjoy costume play. I took photos of them at home. I didn’t even have to adjust anything in the interior. Everything matched ideally.

I wanted to confuse the viewer and deliberately didn’t offer any information about the people depicted in the photos. Captions would have deflected more questions, yet I wanted to provoke them.


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The book

I didn’t plan to turn this project into a photo book. But I thought about it when I saw Leporello’s accordion-style books. They fit excellently with the idea of the series and its name. And then I understood that I had to publish it.

It wasn’t important for me whether the book brought a profit or not. The creative concept was the top priority. It’s hard to earn money on books for most young and little-known photographers. I was fortunate enough to find my audience and gain the contacts of collectors who are interested in my work. Many copies were sold at exhibits.

If your project is truly worth the attention and you know how to attract buyers, then confidently publish your book. But remember that there’s nothing more depressing than piles of your unsold books. Beginning photographers will be better off printing only a few copies, sending them to contests such as Dummy Award or FotoBookFestival, and gaining an assessment of their work. Those are good opportunities to present yourself, listen to the opinions of others, and to get publishers interested.

The Internet has made self-publishing popular. It has never been so easy to sell books than through one’s own personal site. Besides that, that’s an entirely different level of maintaining control over a project you don’t have to get all your ideas approved by the publisher or conform to the standards of retail outlets. You have full freedom.


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On photographs

I like multi-layered photography, in which technique and composition don’t play the most important role. A good example is Richard Billingham’s book, “Ray’s a Laugh” — about the life of his parents, simple working class people. In and of themselves, the photographs are spontaneous and rough. But what lies behind them makes them priceless.

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