Those who have been following this blog know that we love good photography. I was delighted, therefore, when the opportunity arose of attending two shoots Irving Schild was doing for Kosher Inspired Magazine‘s upcoming stories to appear in their Pessach issue
I’ve known Irving Schild for a number of years and have always admired his work, always marveled at his wonderful eye for detail, his eye for the unusual. I’ve seen his photos from a pilgrimage to Reb Nachman Bratzlaver‘s kever, a trip to Morocco, and to the wilds of Africa, etc. In each case, one not only sees an image, one experiences the soul behind it.
In a black and white shot of a quickly improvised shtibl in Uman you can feel the fervor, you can almost hear the words and the lilt of the heartfelt prayer; you anticipate the rhythmic shockle of the participants at each sound. As you look at his photos of Zulu warriors, their fierceness grips you, the piercing eyes cut right through you. When I saw the images of his Morocco trip, I was suddenly transported to the Mellah where the street sounds and the aromas were in my ears, in my nostrils.
Who is Irving Schild? What makes him click? He was born in Belgium, but in 1939 the family had to flee at the approach of the Nazis. They moved from country to country; with the liberation of Rome – by the Allies – in 1944 the Schilds were part of a 1000 carefully selected refugees invited to the US by President Roosevelt, as guests of this country. When WWII was over, the family opted to apply for immigrant status rather than return to Europe.
Irving served in the US Marine Corps and was trained as a combat photographer at the Army Signal Corps School in Monmouth, NJ. After the army, he attended Cooper Union in NYC where he studied graphics design. He went on to become art director at various well known advertising agencies. Eventually he decided to take advantage of his army training. He opened a commercial photography studio in Manhattan and soon his photos graced the pages of Life, MacCall’s, Esquire, Paris Match and more. For the last 40 years he has traveled the world on assignment for MAD Magazine. He recently retired from teaching at New York City’s Fashion Institute of Technology where he served as Chairman of the Photography Department. During his tenure at FIT he trained many students who went to become much talked about luminaries in their field. Though partially retired, he indefatigably continues to do commercial photography for various clients. His work has been recognized through numerous awards.
He has done food photography for major magazines including Bon Appetit, McCall’s and most recently Kosher Inspired. He often does his own food styling, applying the lessons learned during his four decades in professional photography plus his experience as an art director. He is currently hard at work on a collection of photographs celebrating the renaissance of Jewish life around the world.
A good photographer does not content himself with the camera’s result; certainly as he shoots he tries his best, but the work continues after the camera is packed away…
Some may find the above sample all too easy, but there were many other shots during these two days where the final result was not so obvious at first, yet in every instance the finished product was a true work of art.
Following Irving Schild for two days, as he conquered the problems of lighting, as he toiled on finding the perfect composition, as he took memorable photos, as he post processed the shots, was truly an education. He taught me how to see and how to feel my subject, I hope I may yet prove a worthy student.