What an exceptional workshop in the middle of a forest! That’s what we were thinking when we discovered this image in Tom Chance aka Thomas Degens latest submission. Everybody at Westend61 was smitten by this place and the masks that are being carved there. We got curious.

© Tom Chance/Westend61

Thomas this workshop seems like an own microcosm. Who works there and what inspired you to shoot in this place? Is it located in the middle of the forest and is it possible for the carpenter to subsist on carving masks only?

Thomas Degen

The workshop belongs to Hans Schwabl from Inzell. It’s located behind his house at the outskirts of the village. Just behind the workshop there’s a small forest and a moor. Hans is a member of a Krampus-group called „Goaßstoa-Bass“. They perform in different towns and villages in eastern Bavaria and the Salzburg region during the pre-Christmas season. Hans has mastered the craft of carving all by himself and it is really astonishing to see how quickly he can turn a piece of wood into a spectacular mask. His masks are very popular and quite pricey, but he and his familiy (wife and two kids) can’t live on carving masks nevertheless. It’s a lucrative hobby.

In 2015 I shot the Krampuslauf (= Krampus-parade) in Inzell. Hans was quite amazed by my photos and so he gave me the honour to shoot the official group portrait of „Goaßstoa-Bass“ this winter. The workshop picture was taken at this occasion too. Many of these young men (groupmembers) order new masks every year.

We were actually pretty lucky with the weather on this early November day. During our preparations for the shooting it had begun to snow and about an hour later we took the photos in a shower of snow in the middle of a white landscape. By the next day all of it had gone and it wouldn’t snow again until after Christmas. For me, this was the most beautiful photoshoot in 2016.