A Photographer and His Muse
By Christopher Harrity
Joe Schmelzer is best known for his slick and beautiful commercial photography of interiors, lifestyle, and travel. He shared with us some images taken privately while working and traveling with his partner, Nick. Moving away from the staged perfection of the glossy magazine photography, Schmelzer is recording the beauty of the everyday moment. Small seemingly mundane items become imbued with a quiet power. And then there is Nick, his partner and muse.
Schmelzer works with Treasurbite Studio, and exhibits at Western Project in Culver City, Calif., and Diverse Works in Houston. Schmelzer's eventual goal is to present much of this work in a book, but for now enjoy these images while they still roam free.
The Advocate: When did you start taking photographs of your boyfriend during your travels?
Joe Schmelzer: I have always photographed my boyfriend, both travelling and at home. I have been with Nick Berry (nicktberry.com / @nicktberry) for three years. I am not sure if as a photographer the process of photographing and recording our lives is a way to help me understand a complex relationship. Every picture reminds me of a place, a time, a moment, all of which make up our relationship. At the same time, I believe that the documents when put out into public, especially those outside of the "gay" arena, show an important redefinition of family in the modern age. Take away the sensationalism and the overtly sexual, and you are left with "everyday" moments that we all experience, as gay, straight, or whatever. Family is about who we love and who we want to be with, and that is really all that is important, regardless of the viewpoints of others.
Tell us why you think there is “beauty in everything.”
I kind of touched on this above, but to continue: I think beauty can be found in any moment, as banal as it may seem. It is all those banal and "normal" moments that make up the majority of our lives. Even if travelling, or at home, the same applies. Whether it is a simple breakfast, or watching my boyfriend sleep, it's those moments that should be looked as special and appreciated. So, even if on an exotic beach, its more about the companionship of who I'm with and the happiness that we can experience together.
How does your boyfriend, Nick, feel about always being on the other side of your camera?
Nick Berry: Its a nice change of scenery, as a producer, I'm used to being behind the camera. It's a different type of creative outlet that I enjoy.
Joe Schmelzer: I asked him about making "private" moments "public" as well:
I don't mind it, it's not intrusive to me. It's an art that a lot of people appreciate and enjoy. I think it's also just part of the territory that comes with dating a photographer.
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