Martin Schoeller was born in Munich, Germany, in 1968. Schoeller grew up in Germany, he was influenced by German photographers August Sander and Bernd and Hilla Becher. August Sander photographed the poor, the working class and the middle class.Bernd and Hilla Becher’s photographed industrial buildings and structures creating a set of series on similar looking buildings.
Schoeller worked as an assistant for Annie Leibovitz from 1993 to 1996. He then went on to work as a freelance photographer, photographing portraits of people on the street. His work started gaining recognition in 1998 for its strong visual impact. Schoeller’s work has appeared in a variety of publications such as Rolling Stone, GQ, Time and W.
In 1999 Schoeller joined Richard Alvedon at The New Yorker as a contributing portrait photographer. In addition, he has had many solo exhibitions throughout the U.S. and Europe and group exhibitions in the U.S.
Like everyone I find Schoeller’s style of “hyper-detailed close ups” is distinguished by similar treatment of all subjects whether they are celebrities or unknown. His portraits are recognizable shot with similar lighting, backdrop, and tone.
Martin Schoeller’s work for Time magazine is captivating and always draws your attention to their magazines. His work for time is slightly different to the portraits he shoots for how own personal projects. They show someone ready to be judged, there isn’t anything changed about the person in the portrait. His lighting has always been a curiosity to other photographers, from first glance it looks like two light sources flashing in on the face. They could be two large soft-boxes or two large reflectors bouncing the light.
This is some of Schoeller’s editorial work shot GQ and W, it is very reminiscent of Annie Leibovitz work. Schoeller has taken inspiration from his former employer when shooting his editorial work. You can also see that Schoeller has used a fill-flash to bring the attention back to the subject in the shot.
Martin Schoeller’s personal projects of shooting portraits of everyone (celebrities, politicians and everyday civilians), manage to capture a unique portrait of the subject. The portraits feel surreal because we don’t imagine seeing human portraits, so simple and in your face. They are more like mug shots yet much alluring than a criminal mug shot. Schoeller would use a prime lens for these portrait shots either a 50mm or a 85mm.