“I have a very rich dream life. It started at a very early age,” he says. “Every night, I looked forward to going to sleep, because for me it was like going to the movies. I didn’t know what was going to happen. None of us can predict what we’re going to dream. I just feel lucky that I get to remember many of my dreams.”
Dreaming, in one way and another, has taken Schenck to places he might never have imagined when he was young — to Hollywood, where he became a noted portrait photographer, and to art galleries across the country. He grew up on an isolated 800-acre ranch in central Texas, near the town of Dripping Springs, where his view of the outside world came from the movies he watched on television. “I was addicted,” he says. “I think it had to do with my dreams. Movies were the closest things to the dreams I was having.”
He was also fond of art, an enthusiasm his parents encouraged. Schenck’s ancestors included two noted Texas painters, Hermann Lungkwitz and Richard Petri, who were held in high esteem in his home. “So I was sent to a painting school when I was a teenager. I was selling landscape paintings by the time I was 13,” Schenck says.
He went on to major in art at North Texas State University but was soon making films there as well, one of which was called Dream Sequence. It is what you might expect from a college student in 1975 — 10 minutes of grainy black-and-white suspense featuring a young woman pursued through darkened hallways, perhaps by her own memories, or her own madness. It is also hard to take your eyes away from.
Encouraged by a friend, Schenck left college early and headed to Los Angeles to become a filmmaker. Along the way he also began shooting still images and found a new profession. Schenck became known for portraits of film stars and other performers — Marisa Tomei and Nicole Kidman among them — that harkened back to Hollywood’s golden age and the studied glamour of photographers like George Hurrell and Clarence Sinclair Bull. He has shot for Vogue, Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly and other magazines, and, as his website notes, created “hundreds of album covers.”