“ROCHESTER, NEW YORK (CUE DARK, SINISTER MUSIC AND PERHAPS A THUNDER CLAP OR TWO): MY HOME, OFF AND GO, FOR FOUR AND A HALF OF MY PHOTOGRAPHICALLY-FORMATIVE YEARS. ONE OF THE MOST MISERABLES PLACES ON EARTH, BUT ALSO HOME TO ONE OF THE MOST BRILLIANT MINDS IN PHOTOGRAPHY THANKS TO MY ALMA MATER, THE ROCHESTER INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY – A PLACE I LOVED TO HATE” – Eric Schwabel, photographer.
The Rochester Institute of Technology is the largest photography school in the world, but unfortunately it teaches you only the technical part on how to shoot a good image. For Eric Schwabel this wasn’t enough. Searching for a way to express the desire that was burning his soul, he fled to Paris in 2001. Seeing himself as a fashion photographer he quickly discovered he actually had no interest in that aspect of the art at that point in his life, and he ended up spending more time chatting on the internet than behind his camera. And that is how he met Matt York and decided he would shoot him on his return to Rochester a few month later.
“While I wasn’t entirely sure what sort of school assignment he’d work for, I knew right away I had found a solution, though him, for my creative woes,” Eric remembers. “I’ll admit now that being 20 (and therefore constantly horny) at the time was probably the basis for getting him [Matt] into the studio first, but working with him was really where I marked the beginning of it all “making sense” to me. It helped of course, that he never said no to my ideas.” Matt York was a true muse for Eric Schwabel. With him he explored the darkest corners of his mind, shooting nude in public areas, fully body painted, in an un-insulated attic in February in New York… they did it all, and it would eventually bring Eric to where he is right now. This first expression of pure creativity without the constrains of props and make up allowed Eric Schwabel to concentrate on the true art of photography as he saw it: light and movement and a focus on his subject.
Eric Schwabel’s creative adventure with Mat York ended with a guerrilla-style exhibition at the RIT: giant nude photos of Matt that covered the hallways of the school. Legendary magazine Blue noticed first the talent of this remarkable young photographer and published exactly those photos in one of their editions, and by doing so they launched a successful international carer for Eric Schwabel. This year, Eric celebrates his first book release – Shooting Male – a classy photobook showcasing actors, models, ex-boyfriends, porn stars and regular people that Eric photographed and that allowed him to dig deep in his seemingly bottomless source of inspiration and creativity.
Eric Schwabel is a natural in all he does. When you see him, he looks like any other guy in his early twenties, when you talk to him, he entertains you with an openness and honesty rarely seen and when he photographs, he rarely retouches his work, uses almost no makeup and keeps wardrobe and props to the minimal. When Eric Schwabel shoots, he shoots right. –B-
Eric Schwabel’s Shooting Male is a Bruno Gmünder publication. The book can be ordered on the specially created website Shooting Male.
Join us for a second selection in Eric Schwabel, Shooting Male - Second Shot, next month.