Jun 04, 2020

Oil, sheet metal and brake pads: the aesthetics of mechanics

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Dimitri Djuric immerses us into the greasy and dusty world of Hackney’s garages, focusing on details and materials to capture their charm. Similar to his architectural images in “Esthetique chantier,” he keeps his signature style for this series, which offers us a contemporary vision of garages in this London district. 

Tell us about your career. How did photography become a means of expression?

It was a hobby for a long time. My father is an amateur photographer. We had a darkroom at home and I learned how to print silver. I enjoyed using compact cameras such as the Olympus Mju-2 or Yashica T4. I mainly took pictures of nightlife, at parties, nightclubs and concerts. This was my first project. After studying economics in Paris, I moved to London to work as a financial intermediary. About 10 years ago, I published some booklets and started getting offers for projects and jobs in photography. After a few years, I made a professional transition. 


man in a garage
Oil cans
car under pile of stock

Is photography your full time job?

Yes, commercially it’s divided between concert photography/performances, portraits and architecture. 


man in a garage


car on top of tire piles

Who are your inspirations?

Lars Tunbjork, Anders Petersen, Mark Power, and many others. 

You live in London. Is it a professional choice, or rather a taste for the British way of life?

I’ve been in London for over 20 years. I came here for a job, but I also wanted a change of scenery. I’ve been living in London for a really long time, I don’t know if there’s really a British way of life. For a few years I thought it was fun to get my milk delivered in the morning, it was quite typical. I don’t think it’s as common now. 


man in a garage with frontal lamp


man working on a car

Let’s get into your project. Enlighten us a bit about your series Hackney Garages. Did you know the owners or did you just happen to see the place on a walk?

All these garages are located in the Hackney area of East London. You can find this kind of garage all over the neighborhood. I’d spot a couple of streets with some very interesting garages and auto body shops. I didn’t know them but when I approached them, most accepted to be photographed. 

Aesthetically speaking, what did you like about the garages?

The garages that interest me are those that have this sense of disorder. The way they are arranged shows an organic evolution, a workspace that has been modified to adapt to the needs over the years, it’s the opposite of an architecture thought out in advance. What intrigues me is the persistence of these spaces in a city in constant change and renewal. Some are built of scaffolding bars and corrugated iron, but they are right next to brand new buildings. They may be here for a long time to come, but I really wanted to document this before they disappear. 


mechanical at work


garage calendar

The series also includes portraits. Why was it important for you to humanize the place?

These are personal spaces, usually there are only a few people working in each space, sometimes the mechanic is alone. I’m interested in the activity, the people and the space. Although the visits don’t last very long, sometimes a conversation starts up. 


young mechanical


car body being repaired

Your photos look very raw, just looking at them makes us feel as if you have your hands in the dirt too. What equipment do you use for your work?

Fujifilm cameras and various flashes. It’s the use of flash that brings out the intense colors and textures. It also allows me to obtain a homogeneous style throughout the series whatever the ambient lighting. 


car body worker


various auto parts

As for your series of construction sites, do you plan to make a published edition for this one?

It’s possible.

I saw on your website that you also do a lot of dance photos? Can you tell us about it?

It’s a series of collaborations with dancers. Usually improvisations of movements that I try to follow and capture. That will probably be the next project to be published.


man painting a car


preparing auto paint

Do you collect photographies?

I have some prints but it’s not really a collection, I collect photo books. I’m running out of space, I have to reorganize my library. 

Can you recommend an Instagram account to follow?

I really like the account of Sami El Kasm (@samielkasm). He observes the small gestures of the passengers in the subway. 

auto paint cans

Photo credits: ©Dimitri Djuric