Photographer Spotlight: Carl Schultz

Integral to The Scout Guide Phoenix & Scottsdale’s mission is telling the stories behind the small businesses Scouted in each Volume. The story begins in print and continues online, after all. As you peruse Volume 2, we are thrilled to continue our story-telling mission with Contributor Spotlights.

Photographer Scott Baxter

For nearly two decades, photographer Carl Schultz of Schultz Digital has dedicated his considerable talents to capturing Arizona, photographing everything from its unique landscapes and architecture to its equally unique inhabitants. And so, when we set out to produce The Scout Guide Phoenix & Scottsdale — to scout a photographer who would help us tell the stories of the Valley’s entrepreneurs — Carl Schultz was a natural choice. And we’re thrilled to share we’ll be working with him on Volume 3!

In anticipation of shooting Volume 3, we chatted with Carl about his craft. From what inspired his career to what keeps him motivated, the Arizona native shares what makes photographing in the Valley so special.

The Scout Guide Phoenix & Scottsdale: So let’s get started… What was your first experience with photography and what inspired you to start your business?
Carl Schultz: Back in the 90’s I worked in the video gaming industry and my job was to take images that were used to create texture maps for 3D models. That’s when I discovered photography. So I bought the best digital camera available at the time and fell in love with the instant gratification of digital photography. I’ve been taking photos ever since and the rest is history.

The Scout Guide Phoenix & Scottsdale: What an interesting way to get your start in photography! You’ve obviously moved on from the video game industry a while ago. What area of photography would you consider to be your specialty?
Carl Schultz: I’m interested in the intersection of portraiture and architectural photography to create interesting juxtapositions. For example, I’ll photograph clients in-studio with high-quality lighting, then transpose them into a unique setting to tell an engaging story.

The Scout Guide Phoenix & Scottsdale: It sounds like that would require a lot of creativity and envisioning. Where do you look for inspiration?
Carl Schultz: I spend more time editing the photos than I do actually taking the pictures, so what I’m seeing and noticing during the editing process is where I get most of my inspiration. It gives me the opportunity to visualize different combinations of scenes, subjects, and settings to picture the final result.

Photography courtesy of Carl Schultz.

The Scout Guide Phoenix & Scottsdale: You spend a lot of time photographing people, but not everyone is going to be comfortable in front of the camera. What would you say makes for a good photoshoot?
Carl Schultz: It’s a combination of things, chief of which is how the subject feels. As a photographer, one of my goals is to provide a calming effect and put people at ease during our sessions. Having good chemistry with the client makes them feel more comfortable. And, of course, a great setting is essential. A lot of times the setting for composites is in my studio where I can control the lighting and make my subjects look their best. But wherever I’m shooting, lighting is essential. Lighting is everything.

The Scout Guide Phoenix & Scottsdale: You’re clearly very passionate about forming a connection with your subjects. Would you say this is the aspect of your work you find most fulfilling?
Carl Schultz: I love getting to know the subjects I’m working with during the process of creating a photo moment. As a naturally reflective person, I appreciate capturing that memory and returning to it days, months, or even years later.

The Scout Guide Phoenix & Scottsdale: As a reflective person, what keeps you motivated for what’s next?
Carl Schultz: In addition to photography being an opportunity to connect with new people, I love the challenge it presents. As a digital photographer, I create art with a fast turnaround that brings you back to that exact time, place, and chapter in one’s life. With every image I take, I always want to be proud of my work because you never know who is going to see it.

The Scout Guide Phoenix & Scottsdale: What is your experience like viewing your work?
Carl Schultz: I will look at it for a long time. Step away. And then come to it the next day and make sure I still like it. I have to digest it.

The Scout Guide Phoenix & Scottsdale: You’re a Phoenix native and you’ve made an incredible career here. What’s special about photographing in the Valley
Carl Schultz: Within an hour of driving through the state, you experience a huge variety of scenery, each evoking a different feeling.

The Scout Guide Phoenix & Scottsdale: You’ve spent a lot of time here at home in the Valley. What are your favorite local spots?
Carl Schultz: I think Arizona has the most incredible plants so I would pick the Desert Botanical Garden and Cave Creek, where there is abundant access to nature. I also love Cattle Track. I have a studio there and you’re always surrounded by other artists. It has remained virtually untouched so it still has that old Scottsdale feel and look. Aside from places, my favorite things to do when I am not working include playing music on the guitar and drums, and definitely riding one of my motorcycles.




To view more of Carl’s stunning portfolio and learn more about working with him, reach out to him directly here. Don’t forget to tell him Scout sent you!