Still Images In Great Advertising – Christoph Martin Schmid

Still Images In Great Advertising, is a column where Suzanne Sease discovers great advertising images and then speaks with the photographers about it.

I ran into these ads on and since they caught my eye, I knew they would catch the eye of the consumer.  Shot by Christoph Martin Schmid, I think they are funny and quickly to the point. The campaign does make you think about who shops on line and whether you want to be anonymous or protected from a Tammy Faye Baker makeup artist (see example of what I mean by this reference).

Suzanne: Christoph, you are based out of New York, Berlin and Cape Town.  Each of these locations are very different in the advertising they do.  How do you position yourself for those cultural differences?

Christoph: Specialised in story telling I look at 21st century citizens independent from their locations and culture. In fact there are certain patterns in behaviour and life-style I observed that seem globally valid nowadays. In my approach of an assignment my main weapons are humor and precision. Only the exactitude in the staging of a scene, the shaping of the characters and the careful choice and setup of the background assures that the message intended can be universally perceived.

Suzanne:  When I go to your site I see the urban scenes and think that collection was the reason you were hired to push the concept even further. Do you agree?

Christoph: I am fascinated by human nature in all it’s comic absurdity and the compression of the urban space produces some of the most hilarious stories. In my personal work I have developed a conceptual approach and visual style that attracted the agency to see that translated into their campaign. The task was to shape two characters that all viewers can relate to. Everybody should be able to say: ‘yes, I know that kind of a situation’

Suzanne: You have been professionally shooting for over 20 years.  Do you think that clients are aware of what you can produce verses seeing it on your website?

Christoph; The work on my website is not related to any advertising job. This work just represents my approach to photography and storytelling. I find it important in order to stay ahead of the zeitgeist to keep progressing through personal work. And whether it is one of my own projects or a job I get asked to participate in, the creative process starts always with the conceptualisation of the image.

So when I get involved in an advertising project I first try to enter into communication with the agency creatives who came up with the initial story. When I feel I have understood the intention of the script I offer my ideas to develop the idea further and to help translate it into the reality of a photo or moving image shoot, bringing in my experience from my personal work.

Suzanne:  Working in multiple markets do you think we in the USA play it too safe and don’t take risks like the other countries do?

Christoph: No, not at all. The US advertising industry still is trend-setting on a global scale. I like the dry sense of humor I find in many TV commercials and print campaigns. And since my recent arrival on the US market last year, I already had the chance to work with some very talented agency creatives to produce some impactful work for US clients. The socio demographics of the US and the daring ambition of its citizens in their pursuit of happiness make fantastic material for storytelling. And storytelling is a powerful format to convey an advertiser’s message !

Note: Content for Still Images In Great Advertising is found. Submissions are not accepted.

Christoph’s early career in Paris encompassed fashion editorial and advertising work as well as some photography for the music industry. After spending five years in Paris, Christoph moved to New York where his passion for visual storytelling found purchase in the film industry. He studied at NYFA (New York Film Academy) and returned to Europe two years later, to settle in London, where he directed television commercials whilst keeping his passion for stills photography alive. Christoph divides his time between Berlin, Paris and Cape Town and is fluent in English, French and German.

APE contributor Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators around the world. She has been involved in the photography and illustration industry since the mid 80s, after founding the art buying department at The Martin Agency then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies.

There Are 2 Comments On This Article.

  1. Great interview..I have kept an eye on this photographer for years. He creates compelling images..storytelling within one shot, one static frame, is high art.