Walter Schelswas 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