Stacy Schwartz: 100 Creatives


Number 54: Stacy Schwartz

City: Minneapolis

Years spent living in MN: 33 (and 2/3 of a year in WI... don't tell)

When you miss a gig and go looking for photos from the show, what you often find are images by Stacy Schwartz. When you peruse a runway show review, the accompanying pics are frequently by her. If you read local publications--City Pages, the Star Tribune, or Reveille to name a few--then you have probably seen her work. Over the years Schwartz has captured what's going on in the Twin Cities, from rock concerts, to fashion events, to cool Minnesotans hanging out. Nationally, her photography has been featured in Spin, The New York Times, Pitchfork, and The Onion. Without her uncanny ability to capture a moment we may have had no idea what we missed at last night's party.

[jump] Name three things that are inspiring your work right now:


  1. Vivian Maier

  2. Rock 'n' roll

  3. Trash and industrial sites

Name three things that inspired and/or motivated you as a budding creative type:

  1. The sincerity of the local music scene and the support of those in it--musicians, writers, photographers, fans, sound engineers, bookers, bartenders, and anyone else who's along for the ride.

  2. The work of other photographers (i.e. "competition") help keep me shooting as much as I can. There's work to be done!

  3. My boyfriend, artist Carl Atiya Swanson, is always very supportive in regards to my work. He pushes me to keep going even when I want to stay home and crawl into bed.

    What was your last big project?

I have an unfinished project called "found" that deals with things left after the snow melts and reintroducing them into everyday life. I also have a small project I'm tentatively calling "numbers & locks," but I'm not very far along in that one yet.

There's a few other things just starting that I'm excited about, but they're still in the logistics stage. Most of my work revolves around either music or local fashion, so I guess documenting that is my open-ended large project. 

What do you have going on now or coming up in the near future that should be on our radar?

I have a few bands that I'll be shooting some promo photos for, and some small-scale, black-and-white film work. I'm hoping to do a local fashion retrospective at some point as well. I guess just keep a general eye out, and I promise to tweet about them when they happen (@staciaann).


Creative/career high point (so far)?

Either my first photo being published (New York Times for Cloud Cult) or my first international album cover (Peter Wolf Crier).

What has been your biggest challenge as an artist?

Well, I think that most artists have a similar financial situation, so that is always a challenge.  For me lately it's been a creative block. I'm struggling to work through it now. I have faith it will all turn out well in the end. Taking a few "back to basics" classes at MCAD has helped a bunch.

How has the local scene changed since you began your career?


Clubs are harsher about photo policies. When I started shooting I could just walk into First Avenue or the Varsity with my camera. I need a photo pass most of the time now.

Also, technology's advanced to the point where you see cameras and cell phones watching more of the show than humans. It's sort of sad, really.

Describe your most difficult photo assignment:

Anything with terrible lighting, like Ryan Adams at the Cedar ("Can you turn the lights down just a little more?"), or The Big Pink at the Entry (Strobes! Fog! Help.). I also hate soundboard shoots at the theaters. They can be challenging, and not in a fun way.

Which photograph surprised you the most afterwards? Why?

This photo I took in Chicago last fall with my Holga (see below). I'm just starting to work more with film, and how things can work with multiple exposures. This series was a mess, because I failed to properly tape up the back of the camera (Holgas are notorious for light leaks), and so I got these huge squares of light that killed the majority of my film. However, this photo I just love and couldn't be happier with.

Do you have a suggestion for someone whose work we should be checking out? Feel free to leave your top picks in the comments.


Past creatives, so far:

100. Jennifer Davis

99. Sean Smuda

98. Chuck U


96. Amy Rice

95. Kara Hendershot


70. Tim Sievert

67. Dessa

66. Heidi Arneson

65. Erin Currie

64. Jayme Halbritter

63. Amy Buchanan

62. Kimberly Jurek

61. Kenna-Camara Cottman

60. Joan Vorderbruggen

59. Amber Preston

58. Jenny Carle

57. Mad King Thomas

56. George Moskal

55. Gregory Euclide