You may not think that dentistry and photography have much in common. But then you’ve clearly never had a conversation with Michael Tischler. “They’re both digital and aesthetic,” he says. “And they are both actually quite artistic.” He should know. An internationally recognized implant surgeon, Tischler has built a thriving practice that is housed in a spa-like building on nine pristinely landscaped acres on the outskirts of Woodstock.
And while Tischler has been passionate about photography since a family trip to Yosemite National Park when he was 13 (“I know, it’s kind of cliché; I had a point-and-shoot, and that was it”), he has recently upgraded his beloved hobby into a second successful career. For three months last fall, Tischler, with the help of a patient-turned-investor, opened a gallery in the heart of SoHo to display his oversized photographs of New York City. “We did quite well; over three months we sold 200 large images to people all over the world,” he says.
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He racked up a few nice reviews, too. “While Paris may be known as the City of Light, Michael Tischler’s sparkling photos imbue scenes of New York with a spectacular luminosity, even in daylight, that would put Paris to shame,” wrote Howard Halle in Time Out New York. But Tischler, who headed to the city each weekend to chat with gallery viewers, was perhaps most tickled by hearing his customers compare him to the über-famous Australian photographer Peter Lik, whose own gallery was a mere block away. “Of course, they were really impressed with the cost. My photos go for a fraction of what his do,” says Tischler. “My images sell for between $1,200 and $1,800. We limit them to 200 prints, and everybody gets a letter of authenticity.”
The luminosity that Halle refers to is mostly due to a special technique that Tischler has been using for the past year. HDR (or high-dynamic range) combines at least three photos, all with different exposures. The result is that the composite photos practically glow. In addition, he has recently started displaying his work by sublimating the images on to aluminum, instead of printing them on canvas. “The pictures have a lot of pop to them; they almost look 3-D. People often ask me if they are backlit, but it’s really a combination of the aluminum and HDR.”
Of course, Tischler has been honing his photography skills in the outdoor panoramas of the Hudson Valley for the past 40 years. “I have my camera with me all the time,” he says. “I don’t ever want to miss a shot; the Hudson Valley is just so gorgeous.” His favorite spots include the Ashokan Reservoir, near Peekamoose Mountain (“there are such beautiful streams and waterfalls there”), and North Lake. “The Gunks are really nice, too; they are very rocky — it’s a different look. Every day is different. The best times are early morning, at sunset, and whenever a storm is coming in because then the lighting changes. The most dramatic is when a winter storms leaves — then the clouds are crazy. It’s all about knowing the weather.”
But these days, the mostly self-taught photographer is consumed with his oversized cityscapes. “Some days, I just go down to the city, have a glass of wine, and just start walking around,” he says. “I’ll just see what catches my eye. I’ll hop on the subway or the bus — I even have a Citi Bike pass. You’ve got to be moving, these shots don’t come to you; you’ve got to make them happen.” Tischler notes that he shlepps around a 25-pound bag that holds his camera, several lenses, and a tripod.
The ever-busy Tischler is in the process of opening a national dental implant franchise, and hopes to be back in SoHo for another three-month stint soon. In addition, he lectures on photography around the tri-state area. “I enjoy sharing my techniques,” he says. “I also do that with dentistry. It’s how I give back. I’m lucky — I love dentistry and photography.”
Click on the gallery below for more images.