Menno Aden, Photo Artist Looking Down Upon People’s Living Spaces

Photography is a lot about finding one’s one style. Nothing more boring than shooting the Eiffel Tower. Everyone does it. Nothing more exciting than shooting the Eiffel Tower. So many unique angles and perspectives, different lightings and framings left to be explored and discovered! That’s the beauty of photography. Each and every moment offers a whole new empty white canvas, waiting to be “exposed.” Blessed are the photographers who found and developed their very own style. No one else does what they do. Think Edward Burtynsky. Or, on a more modest level, German photographer Menno Aden. Room portraitist.

Menno Aden
Menno Aden

That’s right. Room portraitist. While with our portraits we’re mostly concerned about skin tones and background, Aden takes a much more pragmatic approach. He shoots rooms from… above. A kind of miniature satellite photography. Flattening the world. Because Aden likes to look down on his subjects/objects — in about the least pretentious way possible. To him, it’s just another way of seeing someone’s personality, Aden told Slate. To him, as an artist, watching from a higher position on a small space is interesting because he can see someone’s “compressed personality,” Aden says.

Menno Aden
Menno Aden

It started with photographing rooms of friends, to make portraits of them without actually seeing them. Now many in Aden’s hometown of Berlin lead an unpretentious life. Rents are quite low, rooms and apartments are not the most organized. Shooting from above, however, can make even the most obvious candidate for a Hoarders episode look neat and organized “because all the things on the floor such as the furniture flatten into two dimensions,” says Aden.

Menno Aden
Menno Aden

The elevated view gives chaotic spaces an organized look. But above all the structure of a room has to be right. And while we ordinary photographers hardly ever care about what’s right above us, Aden has to check the height and material of the ceiling.

Sometimes he uses a boom, the camera is often controlled remotely. And Aden’s work isn’t limited. He’s photographing stores, in elevators, basements and parking garages, which are some of his most abstract work. Some of his oeuvres are rather abstract and remind Aden of calligraphy. One series, he says, could easily redefine the term “oil painting”…

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  • I had the pleasure to visit an exhibition of Menno Aden a few weeks ago.

    The first impression is, you don’t really understand, what you see. After you found out, you start walking around on the photographs almost with your nose on them, as the resolution is so fantastic (made out of hundreds and more of images). The very large prints are all printed on Whitewall Alu-Dibond in an incredible image quality. These images in the web size are not capable to show, what is on the pictures.

    I could not believe, that he really was shooting the way, he is describing in his video. So back at home I tried the same technique myself with a monopod and my little Sony camera holding under the ceiling and have been exhausted after 12 shoots. He is doing that with a DSLR and 100 and more shots, incredible!

    Then I tried to “stitch” my shots with my standard stitcher ICE and PTGui and the result was just shi.., I must say: as expected!! :-)

    His technique has nothing to do with normal panorama shooting and stitching, keeping the camera and nodal pint constant at the same position. It must be an immense and time consuming task.

    Stitching 100 and more images made from different positions with different angles of view …. I would not have the skills and patience for that task!

    Last but not least:

    I/we have seen millions of photographs, but this special view I have never seen before!


  • Excellent explanation Dierk, thank you very much. And also reassuring to know that the Internet with its screens doesn’t do any justice to good photography. I keep scratching my head why the good old print is nearly dead. Menno Aden is just another proof that the real power of photography lies in the beautiful rendering of the final product. Things look alright on a screen — but really become alive, opening up new dimensions, when printed beautifully.

  • to show the resolution of these very high resolution images Menno could give us a few crops of these images?
    Even better, if we could see some of these images in gigapan and zoom in to a 1:1 resolution.