Interview: Chad SchaeferYou asked for interviews, so we're bringing you interviews! Welcome to our new series, debuting today. We're going to bring you at least one interview a month, with people from all over the photography world including pros, students, product designers, editors, teachers, and everyone in between. We're starting off with photographer Chad Schaefer...
My formal education consists of way less than it should have, as I never really enjoyed school. I spent most of my time passing tests without studying, and passing time in class doodling on everything... all through school I wanted to either design cars or go into animation. In fact, the only photography education I've had was 1/2 a semester in 7th grade, where film photography was part of our industrial arts class. At that point, I was just amazed that my dad let me even touch his 35mm camera...
Years later, I bought my first digital camera (a bulky 1.3 MP behemoth) to document the vintage Vespa scene I used to be heavily involved with. However, with the proliferation of cameras at the scooter rallies, I quickly got bored of taking the same pictures as everyone else. In the meantime, I was working my way through the older Nikon point and shoot Coolpix cameras, the ones with full manual settings, and learning all the stuff I forgot about like f stop, aperture, etc. I started playing in Photoshop, trying to take my photos and turn them into something different. I love old photographs, especially family snapshots, vacation slides, postcards, and the like. I spent hours in Photoshop trying to make my digital pictures look like film pictures, and then one day, I decided to just go out and buy a film camera, which happened to be a Holga. I chose that camera mainly because it was inexpensive, and the Holga shots I had seen at that point were about what I was trying to achieve in Photoshop, and I knew nothing about film cameras at that time.
I trust my developing to either Holland Photo or Precision Camera, here in Austin. My rationale behind this is: I am kind of the Ed Wood of photography. I don't bracket my shots and I rarely take more than one or two photos of the same thing. I will go to a concert and take two photos all night. Some of my cameras go months before I finish a roll of film. Each of those shots is highly unique, and I don't want to risk a step that I may screw up.
I have an Android phone, and I use the retro camera app more than I thought I would... I enjoy the personality it gives a bland photo, and it’s fun for Facebook and stuff like that.
My self-education created a surprising lack of knowledge of historically significant photographers, although much of their work is vivid in my mind. Jack Delano's FSA/OWI work was really an eye-opener on both the use of color and the sheer awesomeness of Kodachrome, and if I had been born earlier, my ultimate goal would have been to be a photographer for LIFE.
I'm sure this could wind up a list, but the top two? People who believe that they can be better photographers by buying the most expensive equipment they can get; the latest lenses, the newest equipment, all those gadgets aren't going to help if you don't have an eye.
That, and digital photographers who are afraid of film.
Austin has a legendary music reputation, and I follow the smaller, traditional honky tonk scene, which is a perfect complement to my style and medium. I love getting candid images of "regular" people, which goes back to my love of the timeless snapshots you see in junk stores and attics. I really enjoy tourist traps, old motels, abandoned buildings and the like, but it’s not a particular THING that I like as much as a feeling that I like to capture.
Whats your favorite tourist trap, destination, and/or roadside attraction?
What band/musical artist is currently in constant rotation?
I currently have an unnatural obsession with Annette Funicello. She has a kind of imperfect perfection that embodies a lot of what I love. I mean, honestly, she wasn't the world's greatest singer, but I can't stop listening to her.
For more of Chad's work, check out his website: