The problem with even a great photo is that there's usually only one of them. A single camera rooted in a single spot is limited to a single image. But the same scene could also have been viewed from above or below or the side or behind. When German-born photographer Barbara Probst handles the cameras, it is.
Probst, 43, focuses her work on capturing not just a photographic instant but also the swirl of perspectives surrounding that instant. To do that, she uses a cannonade of radio-controlled cameras, arrayed about a scene and synchronized to fire at once. The result is often a complicated and even confounding story.
A woman striding past what appears to be an alpine background is seen not just from the front but also from high overhead, where the camera reveals that she's actually walking on an urban rooftop with an alpine backdrop in place of the real thing. A miniskirted woman lying on a tile floor is photographed in color from the waist down--a perspective that suggests she's holding the camera. A black-and-white image of the same torso shot from around a corner strips away the playfulness and eroticism and suggests nothing so much as a crime scene.
Perhaps the subtlest of Probst's pictures are her portraits, in which people look into the camera in one shot and are photographed from a few degrees off to the side in another. "When they're looking at the camera, they're able to defend themselves," Probst says. "From the side, it's as if we're seeing them secretly."
For all the precision in Probst's setups, she doesn't mind showing the clutter in her work, often allowing her swarm of cameras to photograph one another. One shot may thus fool us, while the next reveals the very equipment that did the fooling. The trickery is disarmed by honesty--and we're disarmed along with it.