Saturday, December 10, 2011

Martin Schoeller: Up Close and Personal


Mole and Thomas' larger-than-life recreations of famous US icons may be awe-inspiring from afar, but there's nothing like looking into the eyes of a real person. In portrait photographer Martin Schoeller's appropriately titled "Close Up", viewers get up close and personal with Hollywood stars and celebrities in a refreshing and almost overly in-depth manner.


Martin Schoeller is a commercial portrait photographer whose images have graced the covers of Rolling Stone, Esquire, GQ, Entertainment Weekly, and many others. Some of his earlier photographs have the personal feel of Annie Leibovitz who was actually his mentor when started working in the industry in the early 1990s.

One of his most notable projects is his book, Female Bodybuilders, which is an unflinching look at award winning female bodybuilders. The series makes use of hard light and close up views, something that Schoeller is known for in his portraits.


Schoeller's most famous work is an ongoing series of extremely up-close portraits of celebrities entitled, "Close Up". Schoeller began his now famous series in the late 1990s when his career was just taking off. While he worked and continues to work in the typical portrait photography fashion, he made a name for himself by taking an objective and almost dead-pan view of both celebrities and ordinary people. He began taking a portrait every week, amassing a portfolio of faces that are now famously copied in the industry.

In Schoeller's style, the subject's face covers almost the entire length of the image, giving viewers an unprecedented view of all of every facial expression (or lack thereof). The tight view coupled with the two strobe lights directly in-front of the subject and Schoeller's medium format camera also has the secondary effect of exposing all of the celebrities' pores, wrinkles and scars.


Schoeller's images are close-up, but they aren't intimate; they don't expose the subject's character or personality but rather give an unbiased view of the celebrity as a canvas on which the face happens to be. This view is shocking at first, but it gives viewers an unique look at what these famous personalities would be like if they were standing two inches in front of you.

These images may be unromantic, but they are at the very least honest. They don't pretend to be anything other than what they appear to be. The backdrop is plain, the lighting is even, and the subjects are present. It might not be much, but that's what a good portrait is all about, plain and simple.


Martin Schoeller's minimalist website is here, which is only a jumping off point to other websites that host his close up portraits. You can also get up close and personal with his celebrity subjects in the book, Martin Schoeller Close Up: Portraits, 1998-2005 or Martin Schoeller: Stern Portfolio. Don't forget about his other project, Female Bodybuilders.

21 comments:

Fang said...

Love how you can now easily notice very tiny details in someone's face.

R said...

Nice portraits!

GT said...

Such a great quality!;O

D4 said...

So basically, a celebrity up close 2 inches away from my face would look like magic? Perfect people is what I see.

Bart said...

gggaaawwwdaaawwmmmmm bill fucking murrAY!

GADAFINY said...

These are great pic , looks like there right in front of me.

Interwebs Fails said...

I like the details. :D

G said...

Guess he couldn't convince them to do the shoot with out make-up as well...still great pics

Bonjour Tristesse said...

These are almost too detailed, like what they would see when staring into a mirror.

ed said...

i wonder how much editing is done

Shutterbug said...

i like look at all the lines and wrinkles on the faces. it's nice to look at photos that aren't always airbrushed!

MRanthrope said...

Ema Watson still looks gorgeous even with the lens inches from her face!

Dale said...

Wow, this is such a cool post and it's so refreshing to see these celebs sans airbrushing. It may sound dumb, but I never realized Paris Hilton had pores until I saw that photo. hehe. It's nice to see that all leading ladies and especially the leading men felt comfortable to have such an up close pic of them. I would definitely buy Martin's book. Sounds like a cool coffee table picture book.
~Dale

Red13 said...

Great pics, would never want a picture of me that close!

DWei said...

I don't think I'd feel comfortable with having a photograph like this taken of me.

R.gers said...

Wonderful close up pictures. Simple yet stunning.

Tom_Film_Master said...

Wow these actually are fantastic photos! The detail is amazing and they are simply stunning. I discovered your blog from Bonjure Tritesse. Check out my blog some time :)
www.filmmasterjournal.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

The reflexes of the light sources in the eyes give all these portraits a very unnatural, alien look.

Anonymous said...

To each his own, don't care for them at all myself.

Bartsmiles said...

anybody wondered what focal length it was??

Anonymous said...

obama - biggest liar of the 21st century

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