Martin Schoeller

- - Photographers

I’ve never met anyone as loyal as Martin Schoeller (here). To the subject, his team of people, the client, his agent, his style, his goals, the print… everything. It’s more than just being a nice guy and delivering consistently good work there’s honesty and integrity, and a devotion to the craft, and an incredible work ethic that adds up to, well, loyalty.

There was a point in his career where he was thinking oh shit, this big head style is not going to define me but over the last couple years he’s decided the market forces are too great and produced a book and several gallery exhibits of big heads.

Luckily he doesn’t have one.



There Are 13 Comments On This Article.

  1. Martin has hired my hair/makeup artist friend here in Florida. She always raves about him. She says he is such a nice guy, professional and runs a good shoot. Martin also taught her how to play chess during breaks…

  2. Loyalty: I am going to go out on a limb here and throw the baby out with the bath water but I am of the opinion that Yankee psychology leaves little room for such august affectations. I might even venture to proclaim that in this country, as someone who has lived on three continents, Europe and Asia being the other two outside this one; that personal and economic loyalty are oft ridiculed personal and corporate qualities and attributes.

    Martin Schoeller, besides being an extremely talented photographer probably owes much of his success to his temperament and character but also to the simple fact that Europeans are taught, at an early age, to stick by those who raise you up, and that to not return the favor is an abominably rude and crassly North American attribute.
    Americans tend to take their entrepreneurial zeal a little too seriously and often dismiss budding friendships and partnerships for short term profits. Friends of mine who work in Europe, China and India dislike working with North Americans most of all for lacking these most natural virtues; knowing full well that if they do not give way to our commercially brutishness, that they, the ” Yankees” , will take their business elsewhere to save less than a few cents.

    Business is based on personal character and on nurturing relationships, but these values are often ignored in response to unattainably profitable and quarterly reported greed. The unflinching coarseness of the market has created unemotional and unavailable brutes. Nothing wrong with profits but profits without relationships will eventually diminish returns on those very real and coveted profits. Without lasting relationships the proverbial economic air slowly gets sucked out of the market and replaced with increasingly short termed and speculative fumes (the dot coms, sub prime shenanigans, dollar stock, to name a few…..)

    Nonetheless, it’s nice to see that sometimes, humanity and simple loyalty can be appreciated, at least on a personal level. As for institutions, they are in the business of stripping those very human qualities to replace them with malignantly optioned algorithms and purposeful speculative economic rape and pillage.

    As far as I am concerned business without values such as loyalty only leads to blindingly irrational exuberance, quickly followed by the digestion of increasingly depressing, manic, and loathsomely bitter pills. This seems to have become, not only the modus operandi of the North American economy, but more recently, the engine of its continued, rapid and possibly irreversible enfeebling.

    Anyway, Americans are a versatile and flit footed people; let’s hope we can learn from our mistakes and regain some of our legendary humanity, which as of late has been sorely missing from the North American psyche. Nevertheless, I also wonder how quickly Martin might be forgotten should he falter to produce or fall pray to illness, age, cynicism or simple disgust?

    Sorry, was that self-righteous enough for you? I swear I stopped reading Paul Krugman way back in two 0 two !
    Sorry for the rant, I know it isn’t appreciated as constructive in this here “God’s country”.

  3. Cameron Wittig

    I assisted Martin once on a shoot he did in the midwest. I was second assistant, basically a liaison for the rental house and lab. (you can’t pack tall boys and sand bags when you’re flying to locations.) It was one of the last assisting jobs I ever had and it was by far the most influential experience of my assisting career. He had half a dozen shots done by 3 pm, all of them perfect. The efficiency and ease that he was able to pull off, as well as the expertise was extremely impressive.

    And to top it all off, he called me two days later, personally, from a beach in Mexico where he was vacationing because it suddenly occurred to him that he forgot to cut me a check before he left town…! I had a check in my mailbox two days later. I was expecting to get payed in 60 days like every other assisting job! Love that guy.

    AND – I have a big head polaroid of myself, a prized possession.

  4. Cameron Wittig

    Just can’t stop commenting on this… Today I gave a lecture to an advertising class at the University of Minnesota about my own work and I mentioned this very experience with Martin to the class. One of the things he said to me – that I will never forget – is to take the time to take a day off and just experiment with lighting in your studio. Burn up as many polaroids as it takes to find a new technique for lighting a portrait. In other words, PLAY. Sounds so simple but I’ll never forget that.

  5. why does martin schoeller have a rep for assignment and a separate rep for editorial. i never understood that.

  6. His first rep was at Corbis and he never left her even when he blew up so I think he added an advertising rep to help out rather than switch to someone to do both.

  7. Christopher

    Olivier, excellent rant. I heard the new Krugman, “The Conscience of a Liberal”, really lets it fly!

  8. Chris Walters

    Like Cameron one of my last assisting jobs was with Martin as his second assistant. We were shooting Lebron James for ESPN magaine in Cleveland. We had three different sets and less than thiry minutes to pull off all the shots. The last shot consisted of Lebron packed in the middle of over a dozen kids. Try to get 50% of the kids to have a decent expression takes a certain skill set of its own. The entire shoot was a great experience. I cant say enough about both Martin and Markian ( his fulltime first assistant ). They were great to work with and down to earth. I’m happy to see someone like Martin excel in this crazy business.

    Thinking about it I also have a polaroid from my shoot with Martin, now only if I could find it……

  9. i’ve worked with martin as a assistant for about 3 yrs off and on and i enjoy it everytime. i’ve worked with many different photographers in NY, but there’s only a few i actually enjoy working for. i feel martin picks out an amazing core team of people and everyone feeds of each other, its almost like a happy family. besides the fact that martin is a top level photographer, i feel that his studio manager, first assistant and retoucher coolest people u can meet and they play a important role in martins operations…

  10. I worked with him about a year ago as assitant shooting al gore.. it was crazy set ups. we had 4 setups and like 30 min to shoot him. then after we shot him i got to sit with him and sip moonshine with him. i do have a poloroid that he shot of me…

  11. Douglas Allenstein

    I love these portraits (like everyone else) and wondered if anyone could tell me whether they are shot on 4 x 5 or 8 x 10?