MARCUS SCHAEFER: EMBODYING EMOTIONS VIA PHOTOGRAPHY

Schaefer is being intrigued by how we experience imagery in today's digital world; one that is characterized by the multiplicity and ease of capturing, circulating, sharing and disposing images.

By Balthazar Malevolent

MARCUS SCHAEFER: EMBODYING EMOTIONS VIA PHOTOGRAPHY

"Black has a spectral nature — on the one hand it's very dominant, powerful, and intimidating, while on the other it's kind of vulnerable, melancholic, and sensitive." For London-based photographer Marcus Schaefer, the color black has a compelling power — it can articulate the complexity of emotions and translate them into avenues of personal escape.

Marcus Schaefer's photography.

Hailing from southern Germany, Schaefer took up photography as a creative venture to explore the world around him during his student years at the Academy of Fashion and Design in Munich. He slowly matured his photography style after improving his skills and understanding the industry through an internship at a photographer's studio, one that embraces the emotional dimension of black and white aesthetics.

With competition on the market steadily increasing, and amateur content threatening the value of photography, Schaefer addresses how uphill battles are attempts at individual communication and unique storytelling. "Although photography offers a variety of freedoms, in a digital world flooded with images and other artists trying to do the same, it is still very hard to find your individual voice," he says. The photographer's driving force is counteracting these emotions with a sense of excitement and a growing desire to capture his current state of mind. "Being a freelance photographer can often come with a lot of downtime between jobs and also the accumulation of creative energy and ideas that urge release," he adds.

Marcus Schaefer's photography.

Schaefer is finding avenues of escape and communication through the visual aesthetics of black and white photography in a world overwhelmingly dominated by color images. His photographs are questioning the false preconception that black and white photography is obsolete and less expressive by exploring intimacy, openness and abstraction. The photographer places the black color at the core of his work, using it as a central component of his visual messaging. Black is newly interpreted in creative ways, as the absence of color and the absorption of light. To create a complex network of new meanings in the images, Schaefer overturns the paradigm of black and white — black acquires weakness and softness, becoming the object of a modern embroidery of representation.

Marcus Schaefer's photography.

His work is never merely conventional, as shown by the selection of images in this feature: philosophical pictures, traversing between figuration and abstraction, offering delight in the imperfection. There are also still lives and images of the scenery, which establish a picture of seductive allure. Schaefer's compelling commitment to monochrome and the emotional tenor casts a unifying net over the disparate genres of photography. The heterogeneous images, grouped together, extend the creative potential of the medium, conveying both the arenas in which Schaefer participates and the spaces he deliberately creates for his art.

Schaefer's artistic work reflects tranquility that is sensual and haunting. "The photography has a spectral nature," he says. "It may have a dark dimension that consumes it — something between life and the afterlife. I'm very intrigued by that and it's very much in line with my obsession with the 'black' non-color." Schaefer explores this 'between' experience; his surreal images torment us with their eerie reverberation of the unseen. This spectrality is accentuated through image manipulation. With poses, arrangements, mirrors, distortions, altered light levels and minimal retouching, he adds a surreal twist, creating an interplay between fiction and reality.

Schaefer does not care about technical perfection; instead, he is intrigued by spontaneity and imprecision. "My approach to photography and the techniques that I use are often meant to encourage the error in a picture in order to obtain unplanned and unintended results." The element of error in all his creative endeavors is fundamental. "Working on my drawings helped honor this particular 'error' in photography, as these mistakes occur a lot when I draw," he explains. Schaefer is also a painter and a drawer, beyond photography, he uses his holistic understanding of art to inform his photographic choices and evocative storytelling. "Drawing helps me to understand my photographic path, and to guide it." "Over time, charcoal drawings have become my visual compass and I now consider them to be some kind of umbilical cord connecting those two worlds of me."

Photography and drawing merge seamlessly into his work, creating new concepts within his work while arresting all feelings and capturing his individual truth perception. "I want to allow one form to merge into another and to create a certain otherworldliness by blurring outlines and modulating tones," he continues. This results in images that are almost a hybrid type of painting, containing complex, whimsical, and abstracted compositions that unleash his intuitive style and energize it further. "The very notion of a managed chaos, the harmonious arrangement of objects and the interplay of lights and shadows have become firm components in both mediums of my artistic vision," he continues.

Marcus Schaefer's photography.

"I prefer not to film the exact image of something, but to capture my own perception of what's in front of my eyes. It's more about creating a particular atmosphere or feeling than static reality reproduction." His pictures extend the reality of their subjects while telling us something about how the photographer relates to the world. He gives the viewers the ability to own fragments of his own reality in this. "I love to take the viewer on a journey through my mind and the visual world; to produce images that channel my energies of visions and thoughts, rather than capturing the exact likeness of life as we know it and live it every day," he continues.

What distinguishes the work of Schaefer is not only the virtuosity with which he presents comparisons, but the fact that he creates imagery in direct dialog with one's own emotional domain. Not only does he imprint on the photos his creative personality but he wants his pictures to reflect the emotions that created them. "My drawings and photographs both depict an emotional communication with the audience — the perception of individuals is never really identical and that's what I love about them," he concludes.

Marcus Schaefer's photography.

Oftentimes, fashion designers find themselves in photography creating beautiful visual range coherent with their collections. Hedi Slimane, Thierry Mugler are amongst them. You should definitely check out Hedi Slimane's photo diary. What do you think about his art?

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