SNAPSHOT: Gary Schneider

By Anna Carnick

Mask Self-portrait by Gary Schneider, 1999

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For our latest SNAPSHOT installment, we sat down with South African-born, New York-based photographer Gary Schneider. For the past two decades, Schneider’s dramatic work has examined the concept of identity through studio portraits, fragmented face portraits, and handprint photograms, earning him a reputation as both an artist and a master of chemical darkroom printing.

Last year, Handbook, Schneider’s stunning, print-on-demand artist book, earned a Kassel Photo Book Award. This limited-edition book is the culmination of seventeen years of Schneider’s commitment to making portraits of hands without the use of a camera. Describing the work, Schneider says, “I have made handprint-portraits since 1993. I consider them to be as expressive as any portrait of a face, more private, and possibly more revealing.” Handbook represents one of the first collaborations between Aperture, a photographer, and a print-on-demand press (Blurb). The book is available now through Aperture.


AC: What do you believe is your greatest achievement as an artist so far?
GS: Exploring the intimate portrait.

What is the greatest challenge you’ve faced as an artist to date?
Remaining focused on my desire to understand the portrait.

What is the biggest life lesson you’ve learned?
Affirmation comes from a private place.

If you weren’t a photographer, what would you be?
I’m not certain I am a photographer.

Who is your favorite artist, of any genre?
Leonardo Da Vinci.

What is your favorite photograph?
Mask Self-Portrait. It is all of my desire for my work.

What was the last book (photo or other) you really enjoyed?
Jill Bolte Taylor’s Stroke of Insight.

Name a person—living or dead—you’d really like to meet.
Leonardo da Vinci.

Do you have a mentor?
Had. Peter Hujar then Helen Gee, now Peter Hujar again (printing his work).

The natural talent you’d like to be gifted with?
Quiet brain.

What qualities do you appreciate most in friends?

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