you always been interested in art? What got you specifically
Lothar Troeller: When I was 7 I got my first
“own” Agfa 35mm camera and I started taking pictures of my
family. I also inherited my grandfather’s self-constructed
darkroom equipment (magnifier with a condenser lens under a
wooden light box) and then I used a 3x4 camera for glass
negatives as the lens and printed even more beautiful
portraits. I was inspired by the pictures my father took with
a Voigtlaender Bessamatic SLR on our family vacations to the
Alps and other European countries and the albums he prepared
in leather bindings.
Tell me about your background.
LT: I was born
in Aachen, Germany, and graduated with a Masters in teaching
music, math and photography. This led to taking workshops/
lectures with Helmut Newton, and a letter exchange with Henry
Cartier–Bresson. A couple of years ago I discovered what I
thought was a pattern in Cartier–Bresson’s pictures. He has in
a lot of his pictures people or objects grouped in pairs, like
two swimmers in a lake, people walking in pairs etc. I wrote
him about this and asked if he intentionally chooses his
pictures accordingly. I wrote him and said to myself, let’s
see what happens. He wrote back: “I can see, I can watch, I
can tell stories, but I can’t count.” This was his humor, and
the humor you see in his pictures.
RS: When did
you come to the United States for the first time?
LT: I came at
Christmas in 2000 to visit the photographer Linda Troeller who
later became my wife. We had met before at the Summer Art
Academy 2000 in Salzburg, and I adored her as a teacher and
photo artist. I made good progress with my photograph projects
in her class. She asked the class if anyone would like to
participate in her new project on the “Erotic Lives of Men”. I
was the only one who volunteered… In the class I was in a
role-play with another person on the topic and then she and
Marion Schneider, the writer doing interviews, took me to the
Alps area and photographed me in a session where I showed how
I felt about my first and strongest erotic experiences. I felt
comfortable with Linda shooting me naked and it was exciting.
I stayed on a couple of days longer so I could meet Linda when
she had extra time and took her to the Hotel Sacher for their
famous breakfast and Sacher torte (cake). She had invited the
class to come by her studio in NYC if we ever visited, and I
asked her if she meant it. She said yes and also suggested
that I might assist her when she had her next assignment in
Germany. So, the following Christmas I emailed her that I
would be visiting NYC during my vacation. She arranged to pick
me up at the airport and for me to stay with her assistant,
Derek. She also invited me to a number of photo gallery
openings and to her favorite photo collections around the
RS: At that
time did you think you would ever live here on an on-going
LT: I got
involved with Linda and looked for a job. However, in the
summer of 2001 I read an article in the
New York Times about
the teacher shortage in NYC and since I have a German masters
in math, I thought it would be worth investigating. This led
me to apply in Vienna for the Fulbright, and I was chosen.
RS: Do you see
your photography as being German?
LT: Yes. In the
German school of photography there is a cleanliness of style
and distance from emotion that has influenced me. It is still
evident in my initial approach to subjects, but I now have
added an intimacy of vision which I learned from Linda
artists, photographers, painters, etc. have influenced your
Cartier–Bresson, Helmut Newton, Wolfgang Tillmans and my wife,
Linda with whom I studied at the Summer Art Academy in
From Bresson I was influenced to shoot only black and white
for the first twenty years. Tillman’s inspires me to push
further in combining the everyday world with still life
interpretations. From Linda I learned to put more emotion into
Has living in New York made
your work American in any way?
LT: Not yet.
However, there is so much diversity in America, an opportunity
to combine some of these cultural influences in my work may be
just around the corner…
RS: What do
you feel has been the main influence on your work by living in
New York and/or the United States?
LT: I am more
exposed to technology here than I was in Germany. I have
learned a lot from attending the PhotoPlus East events at the
Javits Center and enjoy utilizing the newest digital camera
equipment and up-to-date software programs.
RS: Your wife
Linda Troeller is a well-known photographer. Is it difficult
to have your partner involved in the same art form as
LT: No. We
inspire each other and give feedback on ongoing projects. We
are not rivals, rather companions.
RS: What is
easy about your life together?
LT: We attend
the same festivals. We enjoy each other’s openings at
galleries and we have the chance to share projects.
RS: You live at
the Chelsea Hotel. Has this had any influence on your work?
living here with Linda I have had the good fortune to make a
lot of new friends and receive invitations into the art world.
RS: What is
currently happening with your work and what are your future
LT: I am working on the Linda Book which I have shot for the
past five years. I brought my edit to the Portfolio Review in Arles this year
where I received some useful critiques. What I learned there was to show my own
personal view. I have ended up with two types of expressions...one is “about
Linda” and the other is “about my intimate view of Linda”. I am in that
stage of evolution that is very tough to break through, but on the other side is
where ‘the work’ is solidified and my thumbprint sits on it. I know I am
close as a curator from Brazil working on a photo festival to feature, “Family
and Relationships” asked me to send the Linda project when it is finished.
Robert A. Schaefer, Jr.
is a founding member of Photoworkshop.com, and has been a
fine-art photographer for over thirty years. His work is
displayed at the Museum of Modern Art in New York as well as
the Bibliothéque Nationale in Paris, France. In 1999—2000 he
had a 25-year retrospective of his work at the Huntsville
Museum of Art in Huntsville, Alabama, his home state. His
exhibition, Two Sides of the Coin—which deals with his German
family and the Holocaust—was held at the DeFrog Gallery in
Houston, TX in March, April and May as a part of Fotofest.
Currently he is part of a group exhibition called “Amendicons,”
which looks at the crisis in the Middle East. It was at the
Makor Gallery, and opened on Thursday, September 8th at the
Haven Art Gallery in the Bronx, NY (www.amendicons.blogspot.com).
Schaefer writes about photography for
Fotophile Magazine in
New York City and The Photo
Review in Pennsylvania. He has taught at The New School
and given workshops at Pratt Institute in New York and is
currently on the faculty at New York University.
You can contact Robert Schaefer at
or visit his website at