High-Resolution ‘Scanned’ Portraits Using a DSLR Mounted to a Track


Gigapixel photography has become all the rage as of late, as photographers around the world are using special rigs to shoot numerous photos of a scene and then stitching them together into an uber-high-res panorama. Austrian photographer Kurt Hoerbst is taking the high-res photo-stitching concept and applying it to a different subject: human subjects.

He says his project is designed to be the “counterpoint” to the high speeds found in many types of digital photography. To slow the process down, Hoerbst has his subjects lie down and used a DSLR mounted to a track to shoot a number of photographs of the people from head to toe. In essence, he’s creating the portraits by “scanning” the subjects, as if he were using a giant flatbed scanner.


Each finished portrait consists of up to 20 high-resolution photographs, resulting in a life-sized image that captures extremely fine details about each person, their body, and their clothing.


[It’s] the slowing down of what is normally a very spontaneous act in portrait photography […] The photographer takes on an exceptionally domineering role in this ‘game’. He literally rises above the model. The model has no possibility of movement. He or she is at the mercy of the photographer for one to two minutes.

The result is a form of victim/assailant situation (as is very often the case in photography). The shooting angle does the rest, making sure that once the exhibition picture is put up vertically again, there is something strange, distant and removed about it. An impersonal, unapproachable image develops, something that can only be the result of personal trust and personal closeness.

Here are a selection of the portraits Hoerbst has created so far:






The project is titled People Scans. You can find out more about it over on its website.

People Scans by Kurt Hoerbst (via Core77)

Image credits: Photographs by Kurt Hoerbst and used with permission

  • Guy


  • nospam11

    really who needs that?
    today it seems photographer are just searching for more technology or more and more complex and often just stupid workflows so they can seperate themself from other photographer. they seem to think “no matter how boring the motive… at least the making of is interesting….”

    imho the wrong way.

  • brandon

    but, but, they all look like they are laying down. that’s pretty unflattering, and not what one looks like while standing. i say he needs to tilt his scanning rig upright so he can get them in a normal upright position. or he could just back up, use a longer lens, and make a normal pano. OR pony up for a MF rig. either way it’s the same, minus the awkwardness.

  • Samcornwell

    There’s been a spate of negative comments against some great photographic art pieces lately on PetaPixel. Please don’t stop posting these innovative ideas. They are an inspiration whether done well or not and often serve as a catalyst for other ideas.

    And for what it’s worth, this project is fantastic, well executed and thought-provoking.

  • Mansgame

    I swear I am not a negative person in real life, but it just seems like photographers are running out of ideas and keep coming up with gimmicks to make the process of taking a picture as difficult as possible without any consideration of whether the final result is worth viewing.

  • [email protected]

    I had the exact same idea years ago but couldn’t bother to build a rig. Personally, I like these photos. I wonder if someone is going to create enormous gigapixel portraits by stitching hundreds of macro shots. That would be awesome.

  • brob

    the guy in the leather pants kinda looks like Alec Baldwin.

    I can’t understand why he would have the subjects lay down as well. looks like his rig could easy have been stood up on end

  • Theresa Lloyd

    If you think Denise`s story is exceptional…, 3 weeks ago my brother in law basically got paid $9563 working a thirteen hour week from home and they’re co-worker’s sister-in-law`s neighbour has been doing this for three months and actually earned more than $9563 in there spare time at their computer. the instructions on this web-site, jump15.comCHECK IT OUT

  • Grzegorz Bobrowski

    Just get large format and decent scanner.

  • Alex Sedano


  • Christian DeBaun

    Well done!

  • guest

    I have to agree with both Brandon and Mansgame on this. Though I applaud the uniqueness of this project, 1, it isn’t a flattering position laying down [well fully clothed anyway] and 2, it looks very gimmicky.

    I understand it would be hard[er] to scan upright, people tend to move, even slightly causing stitching to not work as well, but create a rig with several cameras on it to simultaneously take the picture. Kind of like a vertical Matrix rig. In that case, the cameras don’t all have to be high-end being that the subjects are close and your area is fixed

  • tyrohne

    ‘thought provoking’? That one has me puzzled but to each his own.

    I think the reason you see so many negative comments is twofold (I admit I am guilty of be overly negative when my peeves are pricked– political photography lauded as ‘art’ vs propaganda and when a photo that tells only a partial story is told as ‘the whole truth and nothing but the truth):

    One- at some point, because we are mass consumers of media it all becomes white noise and it is difficult to suss out what is truly unique and interesting. We react viscerally because we don’t have time to slow down and digest what we are visually ingesting so we let our limbic system take over. When we see ‘art’ that seems off somehow (and I think these photos would be immensely improved if taken from a vertical vs horizontal position) we don’t pause to think about meaning or context or anything else. We categorize it as mediocre or ‘a miss’ and move on.

    Two- I agree with so many of the posters who when we see something that even while we may like it technically, if it seems gimmicky (like these) we recoil at the snake oil salesman cum photographer and push back.

    These folks look like they would make great, infinite white background portrait subjects (ah but that’s been done… ) but they aren’t, in my humble opinion, improved by the increased resolution and horizontal perspective.

    Interestingly enough, I think these would be wonderful to be part of an advertising campaign of some sort but not what the photographer posts is his goal. That just sounds like malarkey to me: Photographer as assailant? That screams pap to me not .. this.

  • Lensrookie

    How did the baby stay still for 20 frames?

  • Iain McClatchie

    Can I make a suggestion?

    Tilt the camera so that the plane of best focus slices through the subject, and that the back of the volume is in focus at the bottom of the image and the front of the volume is in focus at the top of the image. Then step the camera by an amount that ensures that each plane is separated from the previous by an amount less than the depth of focus.

    When you stack the images together, the entire volume will have been done at high resolution. This should be similar to the focus stacking method. You should be able to get strong depth of field and very high resolution. As a side effect, you might also be able to produce a very high resolution voxel model of the subject.