Fujifilm X-T2, Canon 5DSr.
Dubai / VAE.
“The House of the Spirits“ Isabel Allende.
Michael Schnabl found his interest for photography at the early age of 15 when he got his first SLR. His career went differently first but at the age of 40 he decided to turn the hobby to a profession.
Today he works in Austria for several leading companies specialised in commercial, illustrative and fashion photography. His editorials and pictures have been published in numerous magazines such as ELEGANT, ELEGANT INK, FUJILOVE, VOGUE Italia (online),Die Grazerin, Colorfoto, Fotoforum and more. Musicians like his style for CD covers and band photos. Since 2016 he is official Fujifilm X-Photographer and also works for the Fujifilm School.
In the last few years he has won many prizes at major photo competitions. Amongst others, 2 Gold Medals at the Trierenberg Super Circuit (2012, 2015) – the largest photo-saloon in the world and 10 Awards at the European Professional Photographer of the Year Award from 2011 to 2016.
In his workshops in Austria and Germany he teaches portrait and artistic portrait photography with passion.
Workshop Site: www.fotopraxis.at
-Did you always want to be a professional photographer?
No, it was a wonderful hobby for a long time. When I was 15, I got my first SLR. Everything had to been set manually on this camera, no autofocus, no automatic exposure programs – but with this camera I got a very good understanding of how photography really works.
I haven a Degree in Academic Company Organisation Consultant and worked in a leading position in sales for many years. But one day I came to a point when I realised that I had to make my hobby my profession.
-What words best describe your style of photography?
Dreamy fine art with, sometimes a little avant-garde elements.
-What is your typical camera setup on a shoot?
Most of the time I use a grey backdrop and only one flash with a big Octabox. I like to shoot with a 85 mm lens on my Canon and with the 56 mm on my Fuji. My favourite Aperture is 4.0.
-Do you have a philosophy behind how you shoot portraiture?
For my kind of fine art portrait photography, preparation is very important. I spend a lot of time in searching for props like hair flowers and unusual clothes that fit for my pictures. In most cases, I have a quite exact plan in advance of how the final picture should look. For the shooting itself “keep it simple“ is my leading aspect; most of the time I only use one light and focus on the expression of the subject.
-What is your approach to posing your subjects? How do you make a connection with them?
I don’ t want my subject to look over posed but I put strong attention on details like well-posed hands and a nice geometry. On set I prefer a relaxed atmosphere but I communicate exactly what I want – this can happen with words and also with gestures and mirrored poses.
-What is your post-production workflow like?
RAW development in Lightroom and then retouching in Photoshop. After this, I integrate one or more textures in the background. After flattening the image to one layer, I often lay a subtle texture over the whole image. In most cases the final look is made with Alien Skin Exposure.
-What is your dream project?
A series of pictures with women in pompous outfits in front of an endless landscape shot on location.
-How would you advise someone just starting out in portrait photography?
In my workshops, I recommend my participants to spend more attention on the subject than on the technical aspect.
Always a very good hint is to look at portraits made by great photographers an try to figure out how they have done it. That helps a lot in finding you own style.
-What is your top technical tip?
Keep it simple, especially the lighting. Most of the best portraits are made with only one flash or even with natural light.
-What was the best career advice you were ever given?
To trust my intuition, to follow my heart and not my head.