Biography

Walter Schels

was born in Landshut in 1936. He worked as a window decorator in Barcelona, Canada und Geneva. 1966 he went to New York to become a photographer.

1970 he returned to Germany and worked in advertising and for various magazines. Walter Schels became well-known for his portraits of artists, politicians, philosophers, celebrities - and animals as well.

He had a milestone experience back in 1975, when he was asked to document a birth for "Eltern" (Parents) magazine.

"That's when I saw the face of a newborn child for the first time. But it wasn't a faceless being; it had an aged, knowing face with a past."

Since that time, Schels had focused on faces and on observing the human existence in extreme conditions.

Walter Schels has received many awards, including international accolades such as the "Zeitenspiegel" agency's "Hansel-Mieth-Prize" for his series which shows hospice patients short time before and immediately after their decease. For this photo series the "Art Directors Club of Germany (ADC)" honoured Schels with its Gold Award. In the "World Press Photo 2003" competition, he won a second prize in the category "Contemporary Issues", and he received the silvery "Lead Award" for the "Portrait Photograph of the Year" from the "Akademie für neue Bildsprache" in 2004.

Walter Schels is member of "Freie Akademie der Künste" in Hamburg, honorary member of the Association of Freelance Photo Designers (BFF) and Hasselblad Master 2005. He has published many books and held numerous exhibitions.

About Walter Schels:
"Walter Schels has photographed the animals like portraitists photograph people: using a large-format camera, sometimes in his studio, often outside pens or cages, with great earnestness and a deep desire to capture the very essence of what he is portraying. He has thus achieved something unique in animal photography: astonished and strangely touched, we find ourselves confronted with an animal face that reminds us of human features. The decadence in the face of the cat, the melancholy in the eyes of the monkey, the attentiveness in the gaze of the elephant. The links we make are reminiscent of the dialectics of essence and appearance anticipated in the case of humans by 18 th century physiognomists."
Dennis C. Turner / ScD, Director, I. A. P, Institute for applied Ethology and Animal Psychology / Hirzel, Switzerland
Walter Schels

Press

Powerful Portraits of Individuals Before and Directly After Their Death
Powerful Portraits of Individuals Before and Directly After Their Death
Photographer Walter Schels was terrified of death, so much so he refused to see his mother after she passed away. Upon entering his 70s, Schels finally decided to overcome his fear through a bold, bizarre project – photographing individuals before and directly after their death. The black and white portraits are a clinical confrontation with the the unknown...
By Jenna Garret
to feature shoot
September 24, 2014
"Ich musste alles selber lernen"
"Ich musste alles selber lernen"
Walter Schels ist einer der großen deutschen Fotografen unserer Zeit. Seine Charakterstudien von Künstlern und Politikern brennen sich ebenso in die Köpfe der Betrachter wie seine Fotos von Neugeborenen oder die mehrfach ausgezeichnete Hospiz-Reportage Noch mal leben vor dem Tod. Im Interview mit unserem Redakteur Christian Popkes blickt Schels zurück auf sein eigenes Leben – auf die Musik, seine Zeit in Amerika, die ersten Jobs und schicksalhafte Begegnungen.
Interview: Christian Popkes
to pdf
June 2013
How One Photographer Overcame His Fear of Death by Photographing It By David Rosenberg
How One Photographer Overcame His Fear of Death by Photographing It By David Rosenberg

As a child growing up in Munich toward the end of World War II, Walter Schels was greatly affected by death, having witnessed the casualties of air raids.  

“I was afraid of death and coffins my whole life and I avoided seeing any dead bodies, even those of my parents,”
to slate

17. August 2014
Vom Zauber des Verblühten
Vom Zauber des Verblühten
Fotograf Walter Schels zeigt Blumenstilleben in der Galerie Hilaneh von Kories.
Von Belinda Grace Gardner
to article
11.11.2012
Walter Schels - Nature Morte
Walter Schels - Nature Morte
In seiner neuen Serie widmet sich der Hamburger Künstler Walter Schels in der für ihn typischen Bildsprache dem Motiv der Blume. Schönheit und Vergänglichkeit, Pracht und Verfall, Liebe und Tod....
Profifoto 1/2012
to PDF
Walter Schels Animali
Walter Schels Animali
Portfolio and Interview by Rosanna Checchi
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January February 2010
In Schels' Schatzkammer
In Schels' Schatzkammer
Er gehört zu den profiliertesten Porträtfotografen der Gegenwart. Mit eindrücklichen Nahaufnahmen von Menschen und Tieren wurde er berühmt. In PHOTOGRAPHE zeigt Walter Schels erstmals seine neueste Arbeit: morbide Stilleben floraler Motive. Ein Studiobesuch.
to PDF

Photographie 05/2011
Gesichter des Lebens
Gesichter des Lebens
Mit seiner Kamera fängt Walter Schels Extremsituationen des menschlichen Lebens ein.
Von Eva Eusterhus.
to PDF
27th March 2010
 Faces of Life and Death
Faces of Life and Death
The faces of hospice patients before and after death are captured in a stirring art exhibit that opens in London this week. The collection of photographs is by German photographer Walter Schels, 72. They are accompanied by vivid and poignant interviews that his partner, Beate Lakotta, recorded with the portrait subjects in the final days of their lives ...
to blog
April 9, 2008
This is the end
This is the end
German photographer Walter Schels was terrified of death, but felt compelled to take these extraordinary series of portraits of people before and on the day they died. His partner Beate Lakotta recorded the poignant and revealing interviews with the subjects in their final days. The couple tell Joanna Moorhead how facing death changed how they felt about dying – and living
PDF Download (746 kb)
April 1, 2008
Death portraits shared around the world
Death portraits shared around the world
Two days ago, the Guardian published in G2, and on the website, a series of photographs by a German photographer, Walter Schels, and his partner Beate Lakotta. The subject matter was death: the pictures consisted of a series of portraits of people both before and - crucially - after death. In the hours after the pictures and article went online, the Guardian website experienced its busiest day ever trafficwise, much of it driven by users keen to see the pictures and to read the interviews ...
to Guardian
April 3, 2008
Letzte Fotografien. Totenbilder von Walter Schels
Letzte Fotografien. Totenbilder von Walter Schels
Die Fotografie fixiert den Augenblick, als wolle sie ihn einfrieren. Sie hält fest, was nicht festzuhalten ist: die Erscheinung einer Landschaft, eines Dings, eines Menschen. Indem sie den Zeitfluss unterbricht, vollzieht sie eine Art von Tötung ...
Von Thomas Macho
PDF Download (304 kb)
1. November 2004
Under the guise of medical history, the Mori gets radical
Under the guise of medical history, the Mori gets radical
Don't be distracted by the big names showing at "Medicine and Art: Imagining a Future for Life and Love" – Da Vinci, Okyo, Damien Hirst – the jewels of the show lie in the obscure - timeworn or contemporary (...) Personally, I found the surgical saws and ocular tools implied a more real gruesomeness. But Walter Schels' works will make you forget whatever came before...
By Donald Eubank
PDF DOWNLOAD



 Suddenly Everything Matters - Portraits of the dying
Suddenly Everything Matters - Portraits of the dying
As Susan Sontag once mused, "all photographs are mememto mori. To take a photograph is to participate in another person's mortality vulnerability, mutability." Today a photographic project such as Life Before Death may seem like a morbid pursuit, but from it's early history the photographic medium has offered distinctive documentation, acknowledgement and commemoration of death and the dead....by Aaron Schuman
PDF DOWNLOAD
foam magazine, 9.Dezember 2008
Herzlichen Glückwunsch, Walter Schels!
Herzlichen Glückwunsch, Walter Schels!
Ein Photonews-Fragebogen zum 80. Geburtstag.
PDF-Download
03/2016

Books

Animal Portraits
Animal Portraits
Preface: Dennis C. Turner
Edition Stemmle, Zürich/New York, 2001
36,5 x 27,5 cm, hardcover
English
signed copy
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Life Before Death. Encounters With The Terminally Ill
Life Before Death. Encounters With The Terminally Ill
Short text edition
Magazine, softcover, 126 pages
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Contact

All images are copyright. Any storage, processing or other use is prohibited and will be prosecuted. If you want to use imagery or buy prints, please call at 

Dear Photography, Daniela Hinrichs
dearphotography.com

oder at me
mail@walterschels.com


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Impressum


Walter Schels, Fotograf
mail@walterschels.com
www.walterschels.com

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Walter Schels