Since the late eighties Thomas Schenk has been working for renowned labels showcased in fashion magazines such as Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Purple and Details or brands like Yves Saint Laurent, Hermès and J. Crew. But if it was up to the self-taught photographer his fashion shoots would still be as spontaneous and natural as they used to be back when he started his career. Nowadays the perfect arrangement has become paramount, but Thomas Schenk still works in a down-to-earth way: always in search of the interesting, the particular and exceptional, for “utter modernity and edgy introspection”; his aesthetic is never overstated or overly staged but simple and clean. He remains calm and classy where other photographers can sometimes be loud and pompous.
Becoming a photographer was not something he had planned. Before discovering photography at the age of 26, Thomas Schenk, who was born in Illinois and raised in New Jersey, earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts at the Philadelphia College of Art where he studied ceramics and printmaking. After that, his path led him steadily towards fashion photography, where he has managed to carve out uniqueness amidst a flood of homogenous, pretty faces. Character and personality in the face of a model are the highest priority and that’s exactly why IWISHUSUN appreciates his work. In the past we were lucky enough to have him shoot our logo T-shirts and now we are very happy to catch up with an interview – a very warm welcome to our “Friends” section and thank you for supporting IWISHUSUN!
What is more important to you, the sense of hearing or sight?
I can absolutely not imagine life without sight. My whole being revolves around it…
You are a creative person who is home in many places. What is your vision for your personal work?
The funny thing about my personal work (photographs) as opposed to my professional work, is that I absolutely cannot force the photos to happen. I have to wait for days, sometimes even months for one to happen, and then when it does I know it immediately.
Once you said: “What I’m trying to do is keep it really simple, see who the girl is, see what the clothes are, and create a look that will maybe be a little more interesting.” Your personal opinion: what makes a good (fashion) photograph?
If I could have my way I would still be doing those simple fashion portraits I began my career with. I always loved (still love) the woman exactly how she came to the studio; and my hair and make up team back then did as well. We didn’t touch her hair until she was on set and if the make up took more then a minute or two to do, then we wiped it off because it had to be wrong. I was probably one of the last photographers to go from film to computers.
Looking through the camera is synonymous with the act of photographing. How does your normal sight differ from you personal perspective through a camera?
Unfortunately, once you look through a camera, you immediately begin to make decisions and start to try to control what you are seeing. It is a very rare photographer who can make a photograph feel like normal sight.
What are your favourite motifs?
That depends on the day and what I’m doing or where I am.
What is the most beautiful thing you ever saw?
How can a father answer that in any other way?!
Sunrise or sunset – what do you prefer?
Please, no sunrises, I hate waking early.
What would you like to see more often?
I am obsessed with my kids, I spend every possible moment with them and that’s not even enough…
What is your tactic for making the world a better place?
I missed the boat in doing anything really valid in the sense of a lifetime doing good but I do my thing, try to buy only from 1% Companies, Quipo, stuff like that.
Now my big project is to raise my kids right.
When was the last time you gave back and what did you do?
Gave back what?
What’s your picture for IWISHUSUN?
Me and my daughter in New Jersey… (see above, editor’s note)