Monday, November 26, 2007
Howard Schatz - Master Of Underwater Serenity
For physician-turned-photographer Howard Schatz, the ultimate photo studio is the pool he had built for photography. The iconic images speak for themselves.
Given the quality of his work, the number of books he has published and the high profile he has achieved, Howard Schatz is the epitome of a modern master. He has amassed an enviable lifetime of work in a scant 15 years, and he shows no signs of slowing. Perhaps what's most amazing about Schatz isn't his skill with a genre like underwater photography, but the fact that it's only one facet of his vast talent.
“I'm lucky,” says Schatz. “I have a lot of interests, and I'm really blessed that I can explore them. I shoot what I love. I don't think about shooting to try to sell somebody on my work. And the corollary is I wouldn't have any chance at all making a good picture if I were shooting for any other reason than because I love it. Although I photograph every day, I photograph different projects. Eventually, they sort of fall into place, and a body of work comes to be.”
The most recent work to fall into place is a decade of underwater images that comprise his new book, H20: The Underwater Photography of Howard Schatz (Bulfinch, 2007). Schatz utilized the same methodical approach to this project as he had for his other books—he shot every day, and eventually it was enough.
“The economist John Kenneth Galbraith once said a page a day is a book in a year,” Schatz says. “And I sort of am like that; I'm working all the time. And the work accumulates in each area, and eventually there's enough to show somebody. I don't want to say I'm doing a book. Many more books are talked about or promised than ever get done. So it sort of kills the effort and energy. My goal is to just keep making pictures.”
Though Schatz's portfolio shows he's gifted with almost any subject, it's clear he has an affinity for the water. To that end, in 2002 he built a pool specifically for underwater photography.
“It's like having a studio,” he explains. “I can light it from anywhere. In the previous books, I lit from above because it was a regular pool, and the only way to get the light was from above—unless you had hard lights underwater, and I didn't want to use hard lights. I'm able to get lights anywhere now. I'm able to photograph like I photograph in my studio. There are scrims, gobos and diffusion screens—every kind of lighting you can imagine.”