Click on the thumbnails to see larger versions of the photos.
(All images courtesy of and (c) Allan Schoening)
Allan Schoening, our latest photographer to be selected as a Featured Artist. The New York-based Schoening took time time to talk about his artwork, specifically the series he shared for the above gallery. The photos above are only a fraction of the works; for more info on Mr. Schoening, and more photos, please see his Web site.
Osmosis Online: Can you tell me a little bit about this series?
Allan Schoening: This was the first photo series I did where I tried to combine my two favorite photographic concentrations; portraiture and street photography. I made myself more vulnerable than I was comfortable with and really pushed my own self-envelope. Although it seems easy, putting yourself out their on the street and asking people to stand for you can be nerve racking.
OO: What inspired this idea?
AS: This series was inspired by Richard Avedon’s, “Into The West” series; which is in my opinion the greatest collection of American art ever created. Although I did emulate him in many ways, I wanted to make it my own. I think by cropping in tighter, using the element of color and only photographing individuals (he sometimes photographed pairs) I was able to accomplish this.
How did you go about shooting it?
AS: I shot this series on Venice Beach BLVD. When I lived in southern California there were two places in Los Angeles I continuously visited. Those two places were the Santa Monica Pier and Venice beach BLVD. There is something about these touristy, overly populated, overly priced, contrived, dingy, dirty places that I love. They are still two of my favorite places in the world.
For this series, I went to Venice Beach BLVD and found the only white wall on the boardwalk. Thankfully it was right next to Muscle Beach Gym. I stood in the same places for a couple of weeks and simply asked people to pose for me as they walked by. Each image is only 1 or 2 frames (black and white images were 1 and color images were 2). I challenged myself to work quickly and create something without intruding too much on my subject’s day.
A few of your subject are quite animated. Which ones were your favorite and why?
AS: That’s a good question. My favorites are the ones which, without any direction, created an intriguing and engaging story. Those would be the smoker, the girl in the bikini and the screamer.
What are the advantages of shooting B&W to shooting Color and vice versa?
AS: For this project I wanted to mix mediums. When I asked a person to stand-in for me I made the decision of B&W or color in the moment. I didn’t really think of advantages or disadvantages as much as I listened to my intuition. When choosing between color or black and white, it isn’t so much about the advantages and/or disadvantages each film presents as it is about the story you want to tell.