The identity of the photographer, the 51-year-old German man Martin Scheler is also the father of a nine-year-old child, a devout religious believer, a middle-aged who loves life. He also wants to own a restaurant if conditions permit. Now, he is one of the most famous portrait photographers in the world. He shoots politicians, stars, entrepreneurs, and shoots marginal groups. His space is unconstrained and spreads all over the world. In September of this year, he came to China for the third time. At the invitation of photographer Liu Xiangcheng, he held the first exhibition in China in Shanghai. During the short four-day stay, he had a live exchange with the Chinese audience.
He keeps the organs all year round, which is the typical dress of the German punk boy in the middle and late last century. He is tall, good-looking and fluent in English, and can communicate with others at the exhibition site.
But he was not the case at the beginning. Born and raised in Germany, he spent his youth in Munich, the capital of Bavaria. Until high school graduation, Martin will only speak German as a native language, know nothing about photography, and know nothing about the future. After going to college, Martin often did not go to class. In Frankfurt, 393 km away from home, he was a carer for a sclerosis patient during the day and a bartender at the restaurant in the evening. He took care of the patient, gave him clothes and food, and accompanied him on vacation.
One day in 1989, a friend invited 21-year-old Martin to apply for a photography school in Berlin. A total of 800 people applied for 40 people, so he did not have any hope. At that time, the photographer was still a “peeper” in his heart because they always ridiculed the ugly photos when people didn’t pay attention. Finally, Martin was selected and his friend was defeated.
After graduation, Martin wants to develop his own photography career. He first went to Paris for a short test. After landing, he found that the photography circle, the film circle and the literary circle were quite closed, and the people there did not like outsiders. They speak French. Martin said that unskilled English is not in the mouth when people talk about black jokes and political commentary. He is excluded from the circle.
In 1993, Martin came to the United States to look for development opportunities. In New York, he found a job as a second assistant to photographer Anne Leibovitz. At that time, next to Annie, he was only responsible for lighting, but he also learned a lot of photography. “Light is very important. For example, when I was taking an older woman, I would use soft light to present it. Her facial lines.”
“It’s hard enough to be a photographer.” New York is an expensive city. Even so, it’s not going to sweep out the outsiders because “you are different from us.” The life there is inclusive. Diversified.
But Martin’s economy is very difficult. Every morning, he would wear skates and wait for the truck passing by the door. When the truck came, he grabbed the tail of the car and went to work, saving a lot of transportation costs. He often can’t afford to rent, can only return to his hometown for a period of time, save money and save money, then come back.
Each top photographer has a strong personal style, and Martin uses an extremely impending, highly detailed approach to the presentation of the characters’ faces. After leaving Anne, Martin took photos of all the friends in this way. He tied the white shower curtain to the window of the Lower East Side Deli, taking pictures of people coming and going. He also liked to chat with them while watching people. life.
Martin’s most famous projects: Close (currently on display at the Shanghai Photographic Art Center), twins, female fitness, Los Angeles homeless, all headshots, all shot under the same settings, “Los Angeles no The camera of the “Homeless” is just a small pushable shack, which feels a bit like you are taking a photo of your ID on your resume. Every time he leaves the character, he is four or five feet (1.2 meters to 1.5 meters) away from the distance, using long shots and medium format to ensure that the character’s face will not be deformed. He used a fluorescent lamp called KINO FLOS to highlight the lines of the person’s face. This light bulb was mainly used by the film industry – he admits that he is obsessed with movies, and his favorite camera is still the Fuji 6X9, equipped with a 90 mm lens.
Everyone is presented in the same way. After reading countless people, he was not bored with this kind of shooting. Behind the faces, people have their own lives and flaws. George Clooney and Woody Allen’s face are a bit awkward, and Julia Roberts’ skin is not as delicate as Lancome’s advertisement, not to mention the face of the Los Angeles homeless, because of the lack of good living conditions, every There are unhealthy marks on the face of the individual, such as skin diseases such as eczema, extreme asymmetry of the cheeks, facial collapse caused by drug abuse, and so on.
Look directly at each subject
Martin never post-processes his work, at most, adjusts the contrast at regular intervals. He makes people’s wrinkles, scars, spots, and rashes appear. Honesty is his principle. He believes that all photos are deceptive and deceptive, and people’s nature is also so vain.
Martin is always asked to shoot a cover for the magazine. He understands that this is a purely commercial project, but if an employer asks to trim the waistline of the character or make the cover girl look more sexual, he will still refuse directly. .
In Germany, Martin misses the fast and humor of the United States; in the United States, Martin will miss the equality and social welfare of Germany. “Everyone has medical insurance. Our education is free. There is no war. Some places in the United States make me feel like a day.” “Pit”, he believes that the gap between the rich and the poor in the United States is too serious, no matter from which level, “our backwardness is shameful”, this is his motivation to start the “Los Angeles Homeless” shooting project.
Pore, hair, skin color, arrogance, determination, struggle, relaxation, which make everyone different, but similar, Martin can always catch the delicate emotions of these characters, standing in front of these photos, their eyes are like this You look at each other. Martin can look directly at each of his subjects without fear or contempt.
He grew up in the 1970s, and the post-war shadow is still strongly overshadowed by German society. Everything is “anti-Nazi”. The mainstream values of society are anti-Nazi. The education that children receive at school is anti-Nazi, social life. All aspects can be linked to the “anti-Nazi”. Growing up in this historical shame, Martin has no worship of heroes in his heart–“This is very helpful for my career. When I shoot celebrities, I can ask him (her) to cooperate with my shooting.”
When shooting, he always takes a small sound and plays music that he thinks the other person might like. When they were playing Bill Clinton, they argued over what music the little sound was playing. Clinton looked directly at Martin, his chin facing up, no smile. In a flash, a portrait photo becomes, a majestic face belonging to a politician.
Curiosity about people is the secret of Martin becoming a top photographer. Whenever the project is started, he becomes an observer and researcher. A photo taken on the inside pages of the book made him understand the group of female bodybuilders. “Why do these women want to look masculine? What are their motivations?” He couldn’t help but ask and study this group. Immerse yourself. The answer is heartbreaking. To be a female bodybuilder has to endure a lot of pain and stress. Although it takes only a small amount of money, it takes a lot of time to train, and if you win a bodybuilding competition, you can get thousands of dollars. Or, known as a eye-catching way, discussed by everyone, but that’s it. Martin feels that these women are brave and sympathetic. They often go hungry, unconscious, and over-excited. They only have a thin layer of fat, and the body fat rate is between 1% and 3%. Normal adult women must at least Up to 25%, below 10% there is almost no possibility of pregnancy. They also take laxatives to dehydrate before the game. They think it is pure, and others think it is very abnormal. This extreme difference attracted Martin and the entire filming project lasted for five years.
Once, National Geographic magazine hired Martin to take a picture of an article about twins. At the twin festival in Winsburg, Ohio, when his cameras were discharged together, everything was different. Before taking over, he also felt that the theme of the twins was too old. After realizing that “two similar people can be so different,” shooting became more and more fascinating. After completing the magazine’s mission, he continued the project.
Martin always tells young photographers not to think that they have finished a famous work and everything is over. Every photographer can achieve the same level of “as good as your last photo.” A photographer can take ten good photos. People will think this guy is a genius because it is completely in line with people. Expectations, but if you take two bad photos, nothing is saved.
This is what he learned when he was working with Anne Leibovitz. Annie never taught her assistants directly, she didn’t even care if they were doing well. “I just kept looking at her,” and then I learned this. “If there is no Annie, there is no business for me today,” Martin said.
Martin still retains German nationality and is often described by European and American media as a great, outstanding and top German photographer. Now, he already has an independent photography studio. He doesn’t need to grab a truck every day to go to work, and he doesn’t have to go back to Germany to work and save money because of rent. He still loves life, loves cooking, and likes to take care of his family.
In New York, Martin plans his own studio and cooking room in the same building. At the entrance of the studio is a portrait of a female bodybuilder with a tight look. She stares at the people coming and going. The assistants shouted to explain the situation. The high heels snorted and the intern accidentally sprinkled the doughnuts. On the ground. Martin sat in a chair and imagined in his mind: Which crowd can dig? And next time how can I shoot better than before.
“People are much more similar than we want to admit”
People Weekly: When was the first time you came to China? When I came to China at different times, what was the difference? Is there anything that impresses you this time?
Martin: The first time I came to China was eight years ago, and that time I was in Shanghai. Two years ago, I stayed in Hong Kong and Shenzhen for a week. In China, I spend most of my time with people who work with me. They are the staff of various exhibition centers and museums. Therefore, most of my impressions of China come from them.
What impressed me during this trip was that I met many professional young people who mostly studied and lived in the United States for many years and planned to move back to China. 26 years ago, when I moved from Germany to New York, the United States was still a country full of opportunities. Around the world, New York is the place that maximizes motivation and inspiration, and that energy can push you forward every day. Now, I notice that China has more high-paying jobs than the United States. I want to say that the times have changed.
People Weekly: Before engaging in photography, you are basically a social worker. If you are not engaged in photography, have you thought about what you will do?
Martin: If I don’t work as a photographer, I don’t know what I will do. I am not very confident in the process of growing up. When I get older, I understand more about myself. Maybe, I will be an architect, an industrial designer, or open a restaurant myself.
People Weekly: Have you changed your understanding of the identity of photographers over the years? What do you think of photography’s meaning and function in our society?
Martin: The personality and traits of photographers are changeable, mostly depending on the category they belong to. For example, a still life photographer should have more talent and skills than a sports photographer. Being able to communicate well with people and being able to read people’s inner thoughts is the core and foundation of a portrait photographer. Be sure to emphasize in the report that a photographer must find his own personality traits and figure out which type of photography job he or she is suitable for, so that they will be more likely to make a career.
(in terms of meaning and function), I hope that my work will try to resonate and empathize in a less powerful group.
People Weekly: The Close series has given me a lot of inspiration. How do you describe the relationship between you and the subject? Is there a clear boundary exists?
Martin: It’s always best to treat everyone as close as possible, whether they are on the streets or in the White House. For each of my subjects, I show the same respect to them. I never want to get a good photo to please anyone.
People Weekly: You have taken many celebrities, and there are also “LA homeless” (Lost Homeless), and these people are in contact. Do you think there is a big difference between people?
Martin: I think people are much more similar than we want to admit. Each of us believes that we are special, unique, and have our own unique ideas, which helps us to survive in society. But in the final analysis, I think we all have a common, limited vision that belongs to human beings. In our hearts, this has not changed much at all.
Everyone is vanity
People Weekly: So among them, are there some people who are completely different from what you expected before starting shooting?
Martin: In general, I know the fact that everyone is vain, but only to a different extent. (Working in photography) Over the years, what I have seen is the tremendous change in people’s self-awareness and image management. People pay too much attention to how they look and pay too much attention to their appearance, which makes the creativity and creativity of our photography harder to reach.
People Weekly: Remember when you first touched the camera, what does it feel like?
Martin: That feeling – like a tool, in fact, until now, I think so. I want to emphasize that I am not the kind of technical obsessed.
People Weekly: Now, what advice would you give to a photographer who is facing a career bottleneck? Especially for young photographers.
Martin: For the photographer, I feel that it is important to always be curious and open minded. Also, keep your child’s heart! Art always needs fun and a heart of love.
People Weekly: Many photographers said in an interview that there is no clear boundary between their work and life. For you? How do you usually arrange your time? Will you carry the camera with you?
Martin: I don’t carry a camera with me. Photography is my job and career. I want to emphasize that I enjoy the time when I am not working. Family and friends are the focus of my life, I also like sailing, skiing, diving, rock climbing, etc…
People Weekly: What is your most proud moment in your career so far?
Martin: I hope that one day will come! After all, people are always getting better in every shot.
People Weekly: Philip Halsman once said that capturing people’s emotions and essence is what he most wants to do in photos. For you, what do you most want to capture in your photos?
Martin:First of all, I think all the photos are lies, they can never catch people’s “soul.” But you can get closer and make the photo look closer to the truth, that is, I always want to arrive.