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Tips & Tricks

How An Icon Gets The Shot & The Most From His Subjects So They Ask For More | Martin Schoeller

By Kishore Sawh on November 29th 2014


Martin Schoeller is one of those photographers that really are deserved of superlatives as adjectives to their name and work. If one considers the sheer number of semi-pro and professional photographers working today, it becomes easy to see the considerable improbability of being unique, and separating yourself from the crowd to the point of being even noticed, much less a game changer who is often imitated. Then, to have actual critical acclaim on that is an even greater challenge.

Schoeller has all those boxes checked, and unlike certain other famous photographers, Terry Richardson comes to mind, hasn’t had a bout of negative controversy surrounding his character. Ten years after he began to grab column interest, he still is grabbing column inches, and is in as much demand. The CWC Gallery in Berlin is currently hosting an exhibition of his work, and is where Dialogue Worldwide caught up with him for the  following interview.

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Many benighted photographers, the type who refuse to give adequate credit to anyone’s work they feel they can emulate, discredit the style Schoeller became popular for – the two strip light set-up, close-in portraits to which his name is most closely associated. While it may not be technically the most arduous, and rather simple in theory, it can be looked at as a study in the virtues of doing something simple, first, and doing it exceedingly well.

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There’s more to the images than a lighting set-up, and what truly sets Schoeller apart is how he manages to shoot who he does, and how he manages to show the famous faces in ways we have never seen, and of course, how he gets his subjects to trust him with the more abstract ideas. Schoeller speaks about this in the interview below, and gives insight into just how he seeks and captures just the precise moment of expression that we’ve come to expect in his work. It’s incredibly interesting to learn his approach, and hopefully, will inspire you to get something more from your own shoots.

Source: Dialogue WorldWide

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A photographer and writer based in Miami, he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. claude laramée

    Talk about being unique … you’ve got to be creative + some good gears helps ! thanks for sharing !

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  2. Carel Cramer

    great work! thanks for sharing the video!

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  3. Jill Schindel

    What a great video! I love his insight, and his technique of catching the expression immediately after a smile.

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    • Kishore Sawh

      I thought that particular point was brilliant, and I may even try it in my own work. cheers JIll

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  4. John Cavan

    I really like his work, I had seen some before and enjoyed the oddness of his ideas and the strange intensity on the faces of his subjects. It’s a pretty rare skill to be able to have a style that is apparent and yet still manage to have such unique looks in each image.

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