Brands like W, New Balance,
NYLON and GAP love Chris
Schoonover’s on-trend approach
to reinvigorating 1960s and ‘70s
aesthetics in his photography, and
his burgeoning indie filmmaking
career is following suit.
BEFORE HIS TIME
“I keep up with a lot of style, I’m very interested in it, but for myself,
I’m really particular in that I don’t want to go shopping every five
minutes,” the New Jersey native quips. Walk into the New York
Topshop in SoHo, though, and you might find him at the register
buying dresses, or pulling out the receipt he kept explicitly for their
return. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve bought and returned
women’s clothing,” says Schoonover, who also can’t tell you why
he gravitates toward 1960s and ‘70s aesthetics to begin with. “It
was just such a bizarre time,” when fashion was loud and cars were
candy-colored. “Now cars are beige, I don’t know what the heck
happened. It just seems like style died in the early 2000s.”
Maybe it’s his graphic design background, but Schoonover’s
tastes are resolute. Flipping through Philip-Lorca diCorcia’s book
Hustlers, taking notes from Mad Men and listening to the Beach
Boys’ album Pet Sounds on repeat was his M.O. in the beginning.
Now he has his go-to pieces: A wall with a funky pattern? He’s
marking down the location. “Vertical blinds? I love vertical blinds,”
he says, “I don’t know why.” This editorial photographer has honed
a look that feels very “now,” and it’s kept
him busy. “I like working with people
who like my stuff, it makes everything
a whole lot easier,” says Schoonover,
who hopped a plane a few days later to
shoot a music video for the indie band
From Indian Lakes. They came to him.
As a dutiful Instagrammer, that’s how
he’s been able to do business.
OPPOSITE PAGE: Album cover
for musician Dave Monks.
ABOVE: Shot for VSCO with
two Profoto strobes, one
with a white umbrella and
the other pointed into the
ceiling to fill the shadows.
Every morning, Chris Schoonover pulls on a pair of black
pants and a navy blue or black shirt, or a light-blue
button-up. He calls it his uniform. It’s comfortably
predictable and perfectly monotonous—but his work is its antithesis.
His photos are imbibed in William Eggleston color; bubble-gum
pinks, golden yellows, tawny browns and powdery blues embolden
his offbeat frames. In a way, the New York-based photographer lives
in two different worlds: the kind he lives minimally, and the one
inspired by the past that he captures for clients like Fast Company,
Refinery29 and J.Crew; the same could be said for the films he’s
directed. And that polarity suits him just fine.