• September 17, 2013

Martin Schoeller on Intimate Portraiture

“Photographing things the same way and then building a platform … invites people to compare, that enables the viewer to look at eyes in a different way.”
—Martin Schoeller

Twin sisters Eva and Johanna Gill
Twin sisters Eva, left, and Johanna Gill, from the January 2012 National Geographic story “A Thing or Two About Twins”

Martin Schoeller is known for his distinctive, close-up portraits. He says that this style of portraiture makes it all about the person and removes unnecessary distractions such as clothes, environment, or background. Though his concept of portraiture is simple, he has taken complex and intimate photographs of people from around the world. Schoeller’s portraits of the Hadza people in Tanzania and of numerous sets of twins have appeared in National Geographic magazine. Schoeller was an assistant to photographer Annie Leibovitz and worked alongside Richard Avedon at the New Yorker.—Caitlin Kleiboer, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

This video portrait was produced by National Geographic magazine in partnership with the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. It is part of an ongoing series of conversations with the photographers of the magazine, exploring the power of photography and why this life of imagemaking suits them so well. Learn more about the making of the series and watch the full trailer here.

Follow Martin Schoeller on his website.

Photographer: Martin Schoeller
Producers: Pamela Chen, NGM
Chad A. Stevens, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Associate Producer: Elyse Lipman, NGM
Editor: Mika Chance, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Camera and Sound: Spencer Millsap, NGM, Shannon Sanders, NGM

There are 30 Comments. Add Yours.

  1. clement
    August 3, 2016

    I love the “Discipline” part. Thank you for your insights! Very valuable.

  2. Jasmin
    May 23, 2016

    Hello sir,

    I am a photo student at Downingtown East High School, and I am thinking about a career in Photography sometime in the future. I do, however, have a couple questions about the career, if you don’t mind me asking.
    1) Is a post high school education necessary for a job at your place of work?
    2) Is the work steady?
    3) How many hours per week should I expect to work?
    4) How much money does an entry-level photographer make?

    Thank you.

  3. jason
    January 28, 2016

    Hello sir my name is Jason.I live in Logan Ohio.I love your pictures.One of my all time goals is to have a photo of mine in nat geo magazine the best magizine in the world.Even if it was a small photo in the corner of the page anything.Unfortunately most all of my photos were on a computer that was stollen from me.I have a few pictures of my kids and my dog,one of the kids.Anyway would you have any advice for me sir.I would really apreicate good advice from a good person like yourself. Thank you for your time. Sincerley. Jason.g

  4. Page Hargrave Peyser
    November 6, 2015

    Hello Martin,
    I am working on a series of clay and human hair sculpted faces based on the January 2014 National Geographic article “Kayapo Courage.” It all started with the cover picture (what’s his name?) that caught my eye. I made a life size clay and human hair sculpture of his face that received much attention from those who attended the opening reception of the exhibition called “The Alchemy of Pots and Prints.” He received so much attention that the Director of the Studio School asked me to do a series.To date I have completed and exhibited the Defender, Phnh-Oti and Mekaron-Ti.
    Pukatire is at my home awaiting hair and feathers. Nhaktat is in the class studio awaiting slip, bisque firing, glaze and glaze firing. I will do her hair at home. Pukatire is at home waiting for hair and feathers.
    How do you pronounce Phnh-Oti?

    How long does the body paint last? I tried to make his face lines as thin as it shows in the photo with a narrow line of skin between lines of paint, and couldn’t do it justice.
    I look forward to your reply.
    Best regards,
    Page Hargrave Peyser
    artist: hand built ceramics & photography

  5. Mike The Bike
    June 2, 2015

    What a journey to get people at their most natural. Yah…German work ethic…Yah!!! (Hahaha)

  6. Jsun Finn
    May 13, 2015

    photography like this is simply brilliant.. i am inspired by the capturing as you have shown in such detail. your work..and capturing it is truly beauty.
    keep up the great work…

  7. Olivia
    May 6, 2015

    Great Work!

  8. sajjadbutt
    December 19, 2014

    sir i am a pakistani photographer pls my advice a nice porject in work at pakistan i am work on unesco porject in pakistan pls my potrait advise in light and face different look .thanks

  9. anahi amayo
    August 26, 2014

    Hi.. I’m really in love with your pictures and it would be an honor to see how you work. 🙂 I’m doing senior project and I will love to shadow please contact me… I really want to take pictures like you ..
    Thank you

  10. sahrish
    July 16, 2014

    Sir, im a Asian Muslim girl i m willing to be a wildlife photographer,kindly guide me in this regards how to get into, please give me idea hoe to enter in this feild from initial level.

  11. hamza
    June 12, 2014

    Mavi my life is sweeter memories

  12. roberto rodriguez
    June 12, 2014

    what camera do you guys use?

  13. or
    May 31, 2014

    Like you shooting but i have one qustion..How you protect your cammera from being destroyd and stuff like that?? plz email me back i realy want to know.

  14. amit thorat
    May 13, 2014

    i am a small photographer. i want to chance to work with you,sir.

  15. Krushna Shelake
    May 9, 2014

    Best fhotogarfhar

  16. Kaushik borchetia
    May 8, 2014

    Dear sir,please give me a chance to learn photography with you.

  17. Der Kaiser
    April 29, 2014

    can i know your gear

  18. Junaid MP
    March 26, 2014

    You are one of the best Photographer in the world!

  19. fernando caceres
    March 18, 2014

    it is interenting how a photograph invites us to see the world in a different perspective. all diciplines in photography is an art indeed. i would love to fulfill a dream of mine to do work just as successful as Martin Schoeller’s

  20. Abhik Chatterjee
    February 23, 2014

    Martin Schoeller he is a real Artist.
    His Portraits depicts the life, the feeling ,the subject is having and it inspires me and make me enjoy and feel the art of Photography from my heart.
    Its My Dream Working With Nat Geo and Working with an artist like him.

  21. arun
    February 22, 2014

    ohhh nice pics brother

  22. Amit Sharma
    February 10, 2014

    Dear sir i’m a indian boy and i want to become a superb wild life photograher so please give me a one chance to learn photography with you

  23. Hosam samir
    December 28, 2013

    Genius photographer

  24. Elizabeth Redpath
    November 28, 2013

    I also am interested in taking part in a multiracial project. My dad is 100% white European and my mom was Filipino. I love looking at portraits of mixed race people. They are beautiful!

  25. Jennifer
    November 13, 2013

    If you’re still doing the multiracial portraits, I would love to be part. I am Black/White but look Dominican or Black with some White features. Cool mix! 🙂

  26. Mimi
    October 13, 2013

    Would like to know if you’d be interested in my grandsons as multiracial models. They are very interesting and you are very good. Thank you.

  27. Myra Sommers
    October 6, 2013

    Martin: You are an artist for Humans.
    I am so proud of you ! Myra

    September 27, 2013

    You’re quite the artist
    I’ve got to think of a portrait

  29. melanie chapman
    September 23, 2013

    I stumbled upon Mr Schoeller’s Twins work at a gallery this summer and had the BEST time looking at his photographs, including the proof sheets that lined the walls.
    Love the work, love this video.

  30. Ernie DeMoss
    September 18, 2013

    I would like to how Mr. Schoeller gets the ‘cat-eye’ effect in his portraits. It certainly is a signature.

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