A toolbox of intimacy mastered by the Austrian photographer
Viennese photographer Daniel Gebhart de Koekkoek has a tendency to focus his lens on the strange. Equally, his work holds weight as authentic motifs that fuse humor with an idiosyncratic mix of reporter and artist. For his latest commission, he has nailed a HORNBACH shoot that parades the loving relationship between real DIYers and their tools in an offbeat wedding series reminiscent of decades gone by.
Born in 1981, Gebhart de Koekkoek began working in IT before channeling his ideas into photography. He’s now part of a contemporary generation of image-makers united by the notion of authenticity and emotion in their work. Splitting his time between Vienna and Berlin, he balances personal projects alongside commercial commissions. In recent years he has developed an eccentric and often bizarre approach to his work, capturing the aerobatic prowess of airborne felines as they hurl through homes, alpacas on New York’s subway system, and some of the most redundant human inventions ever developed.
For this project, he developed the concept and worked together with Berlin-based agency HEIMAT, shooting three portraits for HORNBACH’s social media campaign. Pillars, palms, and plastic animals are in unison with wedding outfits glamorized during the heyday of disco, driving home the message that ‘DIYers love is real.’
“It is every photographer’s dream to capture real love on the lens. I think this was the closest I ever came,” he says on reflection. The superstore’s campaign, ‘Every project brings you closer,’ embraces beguiling examples of DIY devotion. The slapstick gaiety of the campaign chimes perfectly with Gebhart de Koekkoek’s taste for documenting the unusual.
We asked what his photography says about himself, to which he replied, “That's a good question. I think photography is just my way to discover fun things and small worlds I'm interested in and I could not see without hiding behind my camera. I think photography should be educating or entertaining. At least it should show something new and unseen. I'm super curious and love to find new pictures.”
Finding peculiarities, communities, or unseen patterns has become the arch that casts over his work. Working at Magnum Photos in New York proved to be an influential stage in his early development. He worked with a lot of archive material and browsed through countless inspiring photographers every day. “I was feeling super useless after a day of looking at all this stunning work. I almost didn’t want to pick up a camera again,” he explains.
But after plugging away and hiding behind his lens, Gebhart de Koekkoek began to shape an aesthetic that indulges all the traits of a revered photographer, from diversity to rapport, to an eye for distinctive personalities and patterns. Pairing this with a touch of irony has made him one of the most intriguing individuals in contemporary photography.