Interviewer: Marley Melbourne (creator of "CASUAL" Zine)
Interviewee: Antonio Schuelke @schvelke (videographer and photographer)
YouTube: Antonio Schuelke
Business IG: @transparencybh
Marley Melbourne (MM): Antonio Schuelke! Thank you for participating in this interview with “CASUAL” Zine. Before we talk about your photography career, your inspiration, and your advice, could you please introduce yourself to our readers? (ie. education, career, favourite films, etc.)
Antonio Schuelke (AS): My name is Antonio Schuelke and I am a Videographer and Photographer based in Los Angeles. I am currently 21 years old and I am from Wildomar, California. I began to go to school at California State University San Marcos in 2017. During my last year at CSUSM, I decided to take the school year off due to COVID-19. I first began as a history major, but quickly realized that I did not want to pursue a career in teaching. A month before moving into the Clubhouse, I was a tutor at my old high school and gave up everything to move out to LA. I’ve always wanted to make films and art since high school and encouraged my students to pursue what they love when I was a tutor, but ironically, I myself thought that my dream career path was unattainable because my teachers and tutors would tell me to “pick a real major”. I used to watch movies in the back of my AP Government class during my senior year and picked up my first camera in 2018 where I would photograph my roommates and friends. I’ve been shooting influencers, rappers and have been involved in brand development in LA for about 8 months and do not see myself stopping any time soon. There are too many movies and TV shows that I adore to pick a favorite, but if I had to choose my favorites I would say About time is my favorite movie, Avatar the Last Airbender is my favorite show and Mac Miller is my favorite artist.
MM: Let’s talk about your photography! Your photographs are outstanding. You have a unified style that effectively showcases each model in an eye-catching fashion. Do you have any particular memories from when you started taking photos?
AS: My style comes from just being a lifestyle photographer as well as editorial. I love shooting on 35mm film where each frame counts and means something. I love capturing moments of people out of their element. For example, one of my photos of Anna Shumate in a Santa hat stands out to me because there is not a photo of her out there where she is wearing a hat like that. Another great moment is my film picture of Isaak Presely shotgunning a redbull. A film picture, where each frame counts, means more than a digital photo because you never know the results you are going to get. When they come out as I intended, it makes for a unique and iconic photo. I always want to take photos that no one can re-create.
MM: Your Instagram profile (@schvelke) reads similarly to a photography portfolio. All of your photos manage to invite the viewer directly into the scene. They are truly eye-catching. Many of your images feature young artists, like rappers 24kGoldn and Smokepurpp. Has being surrounded by creative people improved your artistry?
AS: Being around creatives does improve my artistry because I am so fascinated with how
other people work and create art that they are passionate about. I never look at the people I shoot as “models”. My main moto is, “I take pictures of my friends”. I had a good
conversation with 24kGolden prior to taking his photo and have hung out with him prior to the photo. The connection between photographer and their subject is more important than getting paid for me. Other photographers see their subject as another dollar sign and do not care about their subject personally. I consider all of the people I photograph as my friends because the longevity of the friendships means more to me than the photos itself. Whether it be music, paintings or photography, I appreciate all forms of mediums. Shooting on film is risky because I never know how the photos will turn out, but the feeling when they come out how I like them is unmatched. Outside of tiktok influencers, I have shot with 24kGolden, Desiinger, Smokepurpp and Zo Storm.
MM: Another popular demographic featured in your work are TikTokers. You have
photographed the likes of Madi Monroe, Chase Hudson, Tayler Holder, Vinnie Hacker,
Olivia Ponton, and Christopher Romero. How did you get involved with the Tik Tok
AS: I first began living, shooting, and filming at Clubhouse Next in May of 2020. Chase
Keith and his team reached out to me to shoot for the content house when Chase was
living at Clubhouse BH. I then moved into the Clubhouse FTB house where I made
connections with Sebation Topete, Chris Romero, Isaak Presely and Baron Scho. There
I began filming the house vlogs and working on Sebatians vlogs on a weekly basis. We
had many people over for collaborations where I met Tayler Holder and Nate Wyatt. Once FTB shut down and I was moved out of FTB, I began to work tightly with Not A Content House that includes Madi Monroe, Lauren Ketetring, Cynthia Parker, Anna
Shumate, Eva Cudmore, Devy Winkler and Sabrina Queseda. I had always been around
the girls because they were a part of the same management as Clubhouse FTB except
now I was primarily working shooting with them. I began working tightly with Vinnie
Hacker when he reached out to our copmany (Transparency BH) to start up his brand
called Purgatory. Transparency is a company where we focus on brand development
and have made Chase Keith’s Caustic Youth, HeartBreakClub, Sebastian Topete’s “I'm
A Simp” Merch and VInnie Hacker’s Purgatory. Madi Monroe, Sebastian Topete, Chase
Keith, Eva Cudmore, Anna Shumate, Chris Romero and every influencer I have worked
with have been some of the best people I have ever met and I am very happy to call
them my friends.
MM: At “CASUAL'' Zine, we aim to share the stories of photographers like yourself in a bid
to inspire younger creators. As a creator yourself, what are your main sources of
AS: My main source of inspiration comes from many different creative outlets. In terms of
videography, movies are my main source of inspiration. I look at Quentin Tarantio, John
Carpenter and A24 films so that I can get a visual of how to better my storytelling and
camera work. In terms of photography, I love the photography of Willem Verbeek, Joe
Greer, RaysCorruptedMind and primarily Gunner Stahl. I like to always say that I am the
Gunner Stahl of the tiktok community. My best friend, Lee John Godoy, works tightly with
me and we typically always shoot together. I love shooting with him because we both
shoot the same subject, but always shoot the subject differently. In terms of business,
my other two best friends, Jeremy and Jed who are the CEO’s of Transparency, are my
other inspirations. They showed me how to move properly in LA and how to carry myself
around people and on social media. Jeremy and Jed brought me into their company as
their creative director and some of my best work has come from working with the brands
that we have made. I listen to musicians, such as Mac Miller, Role Model, Tyler the
Creator, Jaden Smith, Juice WRLD, Kid Laroi, Kid Cudi, MGK, Frank Ocean, 24kGolden,
Wallows, Kevin Abstract, DreamIvory and Dominik Fike to gain inspiration from a
different medium. I owe a lot to my parents as well for being supportive and my main
goal is to one day text my parents to quit their jobs when I make enough money to take
care of them.
MM: For our logistical readers, who really want to understand the practical details of your
work, are there any cameras or editing softwares that you would recommend? Do you
have tips for learning different photography skills?
AS: I primarily edit my photos in lightroom and videos in premiere pro. I shoot on a Canon
R 60% of the time in terms of digital photos and videos with a 24-105mm lens. The other
40% comes from Canon A1 SLR 35mm camera and an Olympus Stylus 35mm camera. I
typically only post my film photos on my Instagram because I just want to differentiate
myself from the other photographers who shoot influencers. My main film stock is either
Portra 800, Portra 400, Kodak Gold 200 and Fuji Superia 400. I think if I have any tips in
terms of skills is to try to find your own style because that is how people are going to
identify and differentiate your work from others.
MM: Looking to the future, you clearly have the potential to be one of the great next
photographers. You have the skills, the aesthetic, and the connections. What are your
career goals for the next 5, 10, or 15 years?
AS: In May of 2021, I want to come out with my first photo book with all my photos that I
have taken in the last year. I want to compile all my favorite film and digital photos and put
them into a book where I documented my life in LA from May 2020 to May 2021. In the
coming years my main goal is to have my first film feature at the Sundance Film Festival
and hopefully be working with A24.
MM: Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions! Our readers will certainly appreciate your story and advice. “CASUAL” Zine wishes you the best of luck!