Amsterdam-based photographer, Maarten Schröder, captures deeply-absorbing portraits that are characterized by remarkable perceptivity and a masterful apperception of light and form.
Schröder’s interest in the medium began whilst he was studying fashion at Amsterdam Fashion Institute, during which, he took weekly photography classes that he asserts “made a deep impression on me” ultimately convincing him that this was the area he wanted to pursue.
He was subsequently gifted a camera by his parents, and from that moment on, began photographing prolifically, capturing his quotidian environment, including his close friends and family, working spontaneously and for enjoyment, devoid of any clear plan or strategy.
“I just kept on experimenting with different subjects without really knowing what I was doing. Just for the fun of it. This I did for 3 years. Unconsciously I learned about lighting and after a while, I had a preference for shooting interesting people and faces.”
“My girlfriend at that time was a model with a distinct-looking face and she gave me the inspiration and final push to start shooting portraits of interesting subjects. On the way, I learned from my mistakes and gradually I found my own style.”
This burgeoning interest in countenance would flourish and evolve over time, (assisted by his friendship with Ismael from Amsterdam agency Known Model Management, who he credits with consistently providing great models) ultimately setting the foundation for his practice thenceforth and engendering the profoundly-engaging portraiture that dominates his oeuvre.
His understanding of light and form is exceptional (and was recognized as such by renowned photographer Jimmy Nelson who awarded him first prize in The Independent Photographer’s Portrait Competition back in May 2019) evoking the portraits of the Dutch master painters and belying his limited formal training.
He works instinctively, finding space for intuition within the constraints of the format, and capturing his fascinating subjects with remarkable sensitivity, grace and artistry.
Martin Schröder draws influence and inspiration from a variety of sources: from Bruce Gilden’s visceral monochrome street captures, to Irving Penn’s iconic studio work; the compelling portraiture of his compatriots Rineke Dijkstra and Erwin Olaf, and the paintings and sketches of Leonardo Da Vinci, whilst constantly evaluating his approach in a perpetual search for perfection, occasionally finding elucidation outside of the artistic sphere.
“I also started studying psychology. As a portrait photographer, you are interested in people and once you get a better understanding of the human mind, brain and emotions, you can improve the quality of a portrait. Right now I am working on some new photography projects and I expect to finish them soon.”
It is this multidisciplinary approach to the format that is perhaps what makes his work such a rarity, for it goes beyond depicting the physical form of the subjects, eloquently imparting their very essence in a manner that only the most masterful practitioners achieve, though, when questioned on the key to capturing a great portrait, ever modest and laid-back, his response is simple:
“Good lighting and an interesting subject. Everything else is a side issue.”
All images © Maarten Schröder