Michael Schnabel is a photographer whose creative ambitions are unusually demanding. His work is characterized by the complexity of its subject matter: a veritable world of motifs that he is capable of visualizing and realizing down to the last detail, not only in his landscape, automobile and architectural photographs. The right, ‘decisive’ moment is an essential feature of his work, because it is by means of meticulous preparation, a clear concept and extreme sensitivity that Schnabel literally ‘composes’ his visual worlds. Such painstaking compositions have brought the German photographer a great many national and international awards and prizes, such as AOP Gold, ADC Gold, the PDN Annual Award and the BFF Annual Award, to name but the most important. Lürzer’s Archive has long numbered him among the world’s top 200 advertising photographers.
Schnabel, who was born in 1966, studied photography in Darmstadt. During a prolonged stay in San Francisco, he began combining his passions for landscape and photography: few share his ability to utilize his surroundings to convey his own very personal artistic message and vision. Whether it be deserts, soaring mountain ranges or mega-cities – the world around him becomes a dramatic stage. It is this ability that international clients such as Audi, BASF, Sony, Siemens, Random House, Marlboro and many agencies value so highly.
And then there is Schnabel’s other side: he finds those empty spaces on the photographic map and fills them with his own images. As a photographer of international standing, he has assembled an artistic oeuvre of considerable importance. In works such as his Stille Berge series, he has created mountain panoramas that have nothing to do with previous work in this genre. The image is something that the viewer does not so much see as sense or feel. He becomes aware of an inner landscape rather than merely perceiving a photographically captured scene. Another defining feature of Schnabel’s work is his ability to extract what might seem to be impossible from his subject matter. It is hard to tear one’s gaze away from such images, which leave a lasting impression in one’s mind.
Few photographers are as completely at home in the fields of both artistic and applied photography. What all of Schnabel’s work has in common is the way in which it comes into being: painstaking planning and preparation, total concentration, genuine commitment and an impressive sensitivity with respect to the components, time and light. The demands that he makes on himself and his work mean that his images transcend the circumstances that give rise to them. Thanks to his tight focus in preparing for the ‘decisive’ moment, the resulting photographs acquire a truly aesthetic and timeless quality.
The German photographer is always good for surprises while maintaining the most rigorous standards: his aim is to create images that are genuinely inspiring. “I am not a snapshot guy”, Schnabel has said of himself. His clients have been able to rely on this conceptual promise for years. He is also the member of many international juries, has lectured at several universities and has had group exhibitions and one-man shows in Europe, China and the USA. Michael Schnabel lives with his family in South Germany.