Stephen Schafer

Stephen “Schaf” Schafer ( has combined his training and talent, to build a reputation for fine commercial, product, corporate and architectural image making, over a 30-year full-time career in professional photography. He now specializes in architectural photography and large format film photography of historic sites which is transmitted to the HABS/HAER collections at the Library of Congress. His fine art photography since 1987 is film-based black and white infrared photography of vanishing roadside Americana ( which he prints in his darkroom and exhibits extensively in museums and galleries. Schaf is a member of the Freestyle Board of Advisors and has extensively tested their line of IR films.
After finishing his studies at Brooks Institute of Photography, Santa Barbara and the University of Cape Town, South Africa, Mr. Schafer’s work allowed him the rare opportunity to teach in the University of Pittsburgh’s Semester at Sea program aboard an ocean liner circumnavigating the globe and as an adjunct professor at California State University Northridge, and at Ventura College. He is the author of the tongue-in-cheek 2015 book: Don’t Shoot – 66 Reasons Not to Become a Professional Photographer..

Stephen Schafer Portfolio

Julia Dean Interviews Stephen Schafer

LACP Founder and Executive Director Julia Dean asks Stephen Schafer ten questions about his background, career in and beliefs about photography ?

Julia Dean: What kind of photographer are you?

Stephen Schafer: The good kind, I wear a white hat. Seriously I am an architectural photographer now. In the last 25+ years I have also been a wedding photographer, portrait photographer, had a product photography studio, done aerial photography, and I have always been an art photographer doing traditional darkroom based black and white work.

JD: How long have you been shooting?

SS: I have been photographing for clients (whether brides or fortune 500 companies) since 1987.

JD: Where did you get your training?

SS: Two years at Brooks Institute of Photography, a stint at art school at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, plus frequent workshops, books and a whole lot of mistakes and OTJ (on the job training).

JD: When did you know you wanted to devote your life to photography?

SS: At 17.

JD: Did you ever come close to giving up?

SB: Many times. I’d get bored with whatever I was doing when the creative part of the work got to be work. I was fortunate enough to be able to redefine my work and reinvent myself from wedding/portrait > to studio > to architecture so that I remained inspired and challenged.

JD: Have you sacrificed anything by being a photographer?

SS: Fame and fortune.

JD: What have you gained by being a photographer?

SS: Being a photographer has taken me around the world and doing art has opened my eyes to things and concepts I would never have experienced or thought about. I have gained happiness, knowledge and enough money to make a living, what more could you ask for?

JD: What classes do you teach at LACP?

SS: I’ve been teaching at Julia’s for a long time. I used to teach the infrared film photography classes regularly from 2000 to 2008, and also lighting, editorial, and art workshops. Currently I teach “Light Anything, Anywhere, Anytime” as well as photo book and large format photography classes.

JD: What do you love most about teaching?

SS: It’s reverse mentoring. I learn as much from the interactions with other photographers as I hope they learn from me.

JD: What advice would you give someone who is thinking about making a career in photography?

SS: You have to give it 202% otherwise the ones who do will eat your lunch.