From bodybuilders to Obama: How Martin Schoeller takes an ‘honest’ photograph

Editor’s Note: This video is a segment from the CNN Style show.

CNN  — 

Martin Schoeller is one of the world’s most celebrated portrait photographers. He’s taken pictures of everyone from President Obama and Lady Gaga, to female bodybuilders and the homeless of Los Angeles.

But what truly distinguishes the German-born New Yorker’s practice is his his consistent style.

“It’s been 20 years that I’ve been taking these close-up portraits and everybody (has) the same lighting, the same setting, the same angle, the same camera. Nobody is retouched – what you see is what you get,” Schoeller explained to CNN Style show presenter Derek Blasberg.

By treating each portrait in the same way, regardless of the subject, Schoeller attempts to find some truth in what he feels can be a very dishonest medium.

“I do think all photographs lie. I don’t think there is one picture that is really honest. You can’t describe a person in a split second, but maybe in the grand scheme of photography, I think there are some pictures that are more honest than others, you know? So I’m trying to steer to the little bit more honest side of the spectrum,” he said.

Out of the thousands of people he has photographed, who does Schoeller find the most challenging to photograph?

“Actors in general are difficult to shoot because they are always acting. You feel like ‘Oh, this was an honest, great portrait’ while you’re photographing them… and then (I’m) looking at the contact sheets and I feel like, ‘Oh my god, they were playing the whole time and I didn’t even notice it.’”

Watch the video above to find out more about Martin Schoeller’s photography.