Martin Schoeller is perhaps best known for his celebrity portraiture—beautiful, tight portraits of well-known figures from Paris Hilton to Bill Clinton, images that provide intimate views of familiar faces.
“Like most portrait photographers, I aim to record the instant the subject is not thinking about being photographed, striving to get beyond the practiced facial performance, reaching for something unplanned,” Schoeller told me.
In addition to this editorial work, which has been commissioned by magazines like The New Yorker, New York, and National Geographic, Schoeller has also extensively photographed female bodybuilders, identical twins, and, most recently, homeless people in Los Angeles.
“I am interested in the idea of documenting faces of our times, building a catalogue—photographing people from many different backgrounds in the exact same style, revealing glimpses of humanity that are universal,” he says.
Friends of Schoeller’s have volunteered at the Greater West Hollywood Food Coalition for the past 28 years. It was their dedication that inspired him to photograph the recipients of the program, which serves a nightly meal to the homeless and hungry of Los Angeles.
When jobs take him to L.A., Schoeller stays extra days to photograph. He’s been setting up a portable studio on the corner of Sycamore and Romaine, photographing the faces and recording the stories of the homeless who come to GWHFC for food. He’s been posting the photographs, along with excerpts from his interviews, to his Instagram feed, @martinschoeller.
“Homelessness affects every community in the United States. Our government is either overwhelmed or insufficiently committed to addressing this crisis, so our systems fail the people they should assist most,” says Schoeller. “At every level—personal, governmental, philosophical—we are coming up shamefully short, and I’d like to be a part of a radical change in that outlook.”