Marco Schwarz really loves his job. Marco is a wedding photographer. He goes about his business with an incredible passion, always keeping his artistic aspirations for his work as high as possible. This desire puts his name, especially with other professionals and connoisseurs, on the wedding photo top list for Europe and even globally. Since he switched to mirrorless cameras made by Fuji and Leica for his wedding reports, he chose a subtle & cool black compagnon to handle his bookings. Today we've got the chance to shed some light on that guy behind Schwarzbild Photography:
"compagnon for Inspiration" - Part 16
Considering all the competition in the market of wedding photographers and wedding reporters, it's even more astonishing how far Marco's reputation precedes him. Happy couples in the US, Canada, Cuba, South Africa, China or Lebanon ask for his services. No wonder the photography workshops Marco Schwarz is offering are also highly popular. Ultimately, he's one of those photographers who can be recognized based on his signature style only. If he doesn't have a camera in his hands, he loves to make noise with his guitar. Thank got he left it at home for the day. We don't fancy collecting an injunction suit for disturbing the peace.
compagnon: Hi Marco, great to have you. We know several wedding photographers and we know their individual work very well. A comprehensive guide on how to pick the right photographer as a future wedding couple is something we've never seen before. What made you think in that direction and offer a guideline like that on your site?
Marco Schwarz: I'm just a bloke. And I'm certainly not much of a fashion addict. I might like some clothes in which I look like a dweeb. My wife tells me. She doesn't tell me which things to buy and not to buy but rather which clothes I can pull off. That's some kind of guidance through the fashion jungle without telling me which styles or brands to pick. So I thought something like that might be helpful for any couple that has to deal with the "once in a lifetime" topic of a wedding photographer. So I wrote a totally impartial article that offers guidance without judging on styles and quality. Simply a way to find what actually suits your needs.
compagnon: That's a great thought and will probably catch on with many of your customers. If we wanted to hear the common persuasion what's setting Marco Schwarz' work apart, we'd surely find countless fans and even other photographers praising your results. But what would you say about yourself? Why, do you think, even couples from across the Atlantic pick you as their wedding photographer? What do they expect from Marco Schwarz?
Marco Schwarz: It must be my good looks and my incredible charms [grinning]. When you're consistently working on the things you like and find esthetically pleasing, you got the chance to actually improve in those things you love. Just because you put your heart and soul into them. I like artistic photography and real stories. I like things that actually are beautiful rather than just seem to be. Those are my photographic ideals I keep following all the time. And the longer you keep heading after a certain goal, your profile and style will develop and establish. If there happens to be someone who enjoys your style, all is going well.
compagnon: Talking about photographic mantras: You could consider punchy black & white photos as one of the pillars of your personal style. During your workshops you're trying to share the knowledge on how to do great BW images. How did it come to that? What's wrong with the monochrome edits by other photographers out there?
Marco Schwarz: There's nothing "wrong with" them really. It's all just a matter of personal taste. I've once seen an interview of Richie Sambora, Ex-Bon Jovi guitarist and he said: "If you play guitar, your instrument has to scream". He actually used the word "scream". That kind of stuck in my head. I want to have my photos in just that way. Not dull, juicy, delicious and plain funky. Sorry, I'm going crazy on those metaphors, but you know what I mean. To keep it technical, if I'm not careful with my tonal values I'll get images like lukewarm soup. But what I want is some tasty explosion, so the seasoning, meaning the editing, needs to be spot on. Black & white images tell their stories without color, it's light only. Usually their message is clearer. So you'll have to make sure you a) get the message itself right and b) have the light leading you through the image so the message is prominent. An example: Picture a champagne reception with lots of people. Right in the middle there are two kids playing on the floor together. That's my story. So I'll have to light and focus sitting right there. I take the picture that way and edit it in a way to lead your eyes right to that spot automatically. Simply removing colors from an image does not make a great BW photo.
compagnon: There's a lot to learn from what you just told us. You switched to a more compact equipment just recently. Has the fact that your style is already firmly established, helped you picking the right stuff and making the correct choice? The better you know what you'll need and you gonna be doing, the better your pick will be, do you reckon?
Marco Schwarz: I'm no nerd knowing his way around every single technical detail of his camera. Cameras are tools. If they can do some of the things I really care about, I'm fine. I only know about the things I need for my images. And frankly that's not much. It's the same with hiking enthusiasts. When they start their backpack in stuffed with all kinds of useless boodle. Later they start cutting the handle off their toothbrush to save weight. Talking about style. I need 2-3 lenses and that's it. I'm simply done with those huge 500 kilo DSLR monsters.
compagnon: That's why you enjoy using the medium messenger. It's the perfect size for the essentials. Let's get that to the extreme. Say you're covering a wedding but you're only allowed to take one camera body, one lens and three other random things (extra memory cards and batteries for the camera are out of things).
Marco Schwarz: I'll have a Leica Q with a mounted 28mm lens, a speedlight, Macbook and some chewing gum.
compagnon: That sounded like not much of a pondering. Why did you pick those things?
Marco Schwarz: Arriving at the wedding without a camera would kinda ruin things, the flash might be necessary for the later shots. The Macbook will allow me to do some backups and maybe sort some pictures in between the action. And some gum because, well I had a third thing to pick... Could have picked a pony instead.
compagnon: [Laughter] Very good. Some pragmatic answers. Let's talk about the "Make a wish" question. We assume you're not too keen on models or props but being able to do whatever you want must be interesting for you anyway. Money no object. What kind of shoot will result from that?
Marco Schwarz: Don't get me wrong, of course I like nicely set up weddings at some dream location with nothing but beautiful people. If everyone's a model, great. But I wouldn't hire models to stuff my gallery and website with beautiful people only. That's neither hard to accomplish nor is it artistic. It has nothing to do with reality and will tell nothing about the ability of a wedding photographer. About that "make a wish" thing: There are some countries I'd be excited to work at, India for example. I've never been there, but other than that I'm all happy.
compagnon: We'd like to know if you get your camera out at all if you're not covering a wedding. Is there some other genre of photography you enjoy to do or work with?
Marco Schwarz: I'd love to but I tend to run into time issues with that. I'm always planning to, though. Saying "Go and enjoy your camera just for yourself" but in the end I never get around to it.
compagnon: That's somewhat tragic, like a Michelin star chef who's sitting at home eating canned beans for dinner. Many wedding photographers entering the business every year. They might feel unsure and somewhat anxious about the challenges waiting ahead. You're an experienced wedding photographer. What do you think? What are the things that make your life as the wedding photographer difficult during the event? Be it unforeseeable or expectable?
Marco Schwarz: The most important factor is experience. It will enable you to stay cool and act professionally in every situation, even the unforeseeable ones. You can't buy that experience, there are no workshops or presets to get it. It takes time and you shouldn't be afraid to take that time. You won't be going from zero to wedding photography superstar over night, at least when it comes to actual skill. If you understand that, show some stamina and take your time, only sell the things you can actually deliver, add some real creativity, you'll make your way.
compagnon: We couldn't have asked for some better closing words. It's been great fun having you here and shedding some light on how Marco Schwarz sees his work. Thanks for stopping by and talking about all those things this blatantly. We wish you all the best for your dream job and your workshops. Take care and see you soon.
All images in this feature were provided by Marco Schwarz.
All images are under copyright. All rights reserved by Marco Schwarz and compagnon GbR.
More of Marco on Instagram and his website
This interview is also available in the original German version.