Martin Schoeller (German, b. 1968) is an award-winning portrait photographer renowned for extreme- close up portraits. Familiar faces are treated with the same levels of scrutiny as the un-famous. The unknown and the too-well-known meet on a level platform that enables comparison, where a viewer’s existing notions of celebrity, value, and honesty are challenged. Growing up in Germany, he was deeply influenced by August Sander’s countless portraits of the poor, the working class, and the bourgeoisie, as well as by Bernd and Hilla Becher, who spawned a school known as the Becher-Schüler. Schoeller’s close-up portraits emphasize, in equal measure, the facial features, both studied and unstudied, of his subjects— world leaders and indigenous groups, movie stars and the homeless, athletes and artists— leveling them in an inherently democratic fashion.
Schoeller worked as an assistant to Annie Leibovitz from 1993 to 1996. He advanced as a freelance photographer, producing portraits of people he met on the street. His work gained recognition for its strong visual impact and since 1998, his work has appeared in Rolling Stone, National Geographic, TIME, GQ, Esquire, Entertainment Weekly, and The New York Times Magazine, among other publications. Schoeller joined Richard Avedon as a contributing portrait photographer at the New Yorker in 1999, where he continues to produce award-winning images. His portraits are exhibited and collected internationally, including in several solo exhibitions in Europe and the United States and are included in the permanent collection of the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. He studied at Lette Verein in Berlin and lives and works in New York City.
Photo Credit: © Kathy Ryan