Moving Forward, Looking Back

To commemorate his 25th year in photography, Howard Schatz is publishing a new book. A massive two-volume retrospective, Schatz Images: 25 Years includes work from 32 personal projects, as well as never-before-seen images from throughout his career. On these pages, we’re hosting our own mini-retrospective. Schatz had the very first cover of Digital Photo Pro in 2003, and since that issue, his work has been featured in the magazine and on the cover several more times, including this November 2014 issue. We’ve always been particularly struck with his ability to come up with a project and then create a body of work that has its own unique visual style. As a photographer, he lets the subject dictate his interpretation. Schatz spoke to us from Slovenia, where he was on press to monitor the printing of his life’s work.

DPP: There are a lot of images in this book, but even more had to be left out. How did you decide what made the cut?

Schatz: I’m very project-oriented, and I’ve done over 40 separate personal projects. We edited all my work, four million images, and I selected about a thousand. There were so many images and so many pages, we designed a two-book boxed set. A photographer really can’t see his work as clearly as an unbiased stranger can. So we hired a world-renowned photo editor to look at everything. My wife, Beverly, looked at everything, I looked at everything, and the photo editor looked at everything, and the only pictures in the book are those pictures that got no vetoes from any of us. We agreed what belonged. I feel like we made a really strong edit. I’m very proud of it.

DPP: I understand there are some previously unpublished images included.

Schatz: Lots of them. Even if you’ve seen all my books, you haven’t seen well more than half of these images. I asked the photo editor to find gems that we missed, and there were many. We change. We’re on a constant waveform. I’m a different person today than I was 25 years ago. In fact, what was wonderful about this project was, I was able to sort of see who I am and how I’ve grown and how I’ve changed and what I’ve learned. It was a really wonderful, rich endeavor.

DPP: What are the biggest differences between your early work and what you’re doing now?

Schatz: The question really can be answered by the difference between being a physician and being an artist. When you’re a doctor, it’s about getting it right, getting exactly the right diagnosis and doing the exact right treatment. Whereas in photography, there are no mistakes. In fact, it’s mistakes that make miracles. In photography, it’s often about getting it wrong. So, in a way, I’m much freer. I’m more open to all kinds of ideas and all kinds of things, I’m willing to try anything. I’ve become much more imaginative and creatively open.

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