Issue No 17

Till Death Do Us Part

Michael Schachtner (b. 1978 in Germany) originally comes from the field of advertising. He studied at Miami Ad School and began his professional career as an Art Director at Saatchi & Saatchi New York. Being surrounded by creativity on a daily base and working with the most talented artists persuaded Michael to pursue his true passion: photography.

In his photographic work Michael bridges the conceptual thinking of advertising with the fine art of taking pictures. He currently lives, works and photographs in Berlin and New York.

Natalie Loos: What made you want to start shooting photography?

Michael Schachtner: I was always fascinated by the power of images. And photography is the purest form of it. It can be rough and real or it can be edited and transformed in infinite ways. For me photography is the art of our time.

NL: Where did the Converse come into play? Why Converse as the topic?

MS: The concept behind the Converse series: Till death do them part. Converse are not just shoes. They can be an emblem of individualism, a rejection of the mainstream, the counterculture to the ordinary. Those Converse become an evidence of life and will be worn till death do them part. That’s what gives them their soul. 

Captured they turn from worn out into a portrait of their owner.

NL: How did you choose your subjects?

MS: Each pair tells a story. Some have doodles on them, some are worn hard, some live already for many years/decades. You don't know where those shoes have been and what they saw but from the stains, the grease and the holes you can imagine an awesome time. You can compare them to wrinkles in a face. Beautiful in a strange way.

In short, the more individual they are the better. 

NL: What type of camera?

MS: 5d Mark II (for now, but I'm eyeing on medium format camera)

NL: Any special lighting styles?

MS: Normal studio, with a seamless and even lighting. It's all about the subject and how it's portrayed.

NL: What is next for you with this collection? I know at one point we spoke about a book possibility?

MS: The great thing about this collection, it is never depleted. I'm always looking for the next 'portrait'. It's interesting to start talking to a stranger on the street because of his/her worn out Converse. After a weird first second everyone loves to talk about their shoes and how much they feel connected to them.

Yes, the plan is to release a book. The book should give a more deeper picture of each pair of Converse - connected to the wearer and their stories.

NL: Are you hoping for gallery representation?

MS: I'm represented by Crane Kalman Gallery in the UK. I entered the series into a photo competition and became one of the finalists. Crane Kalman saw my work there and asked if they could show it at an art fair. That was the beginning of my first representation. But a US representation would be nice too.

NL: Are you thinking about what your next collection will be? Something different than Converse?

MS: I'm in the middle of two new projects. The conceptual work is done and both are in a test phase to figure out the best way to shoot them. And yes, something different than converse. Life has more to offer.

NL: What is your inspiration?

MS: A human insight.