ASMP logoSchaf Photo Studios  •  Architectural & HABS|HAER|HALS Photography
Ventura, California    •    Phone 805-652-1000

E-Mail:  schaf @



Stephen Schafer (AKA: Schäf) owner of the photography studio, Schaf Photo, is an award-winning photographer specializing in architectural and corporate location photography. Combining his training and talent, he has built a reputation for fine corporate photography, publishing and creating historic resource surveys. Since establishing his photography studio in downtown Ventura in 1989, he now produces books, multi-media displays, presentations, and photography for publications, architectural portfolios and historic landmark nominations.

Schaf Photo’s client list includes Architect Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, the National Trust’s Preservation Magazine, Bloomberg Business Week, Traditional Building Magazine, and NPR. He has produced photography projects for cities such as Los Angeles, Riverside, Alameda, Santa Monica, San Jose, Culver City, Monterey Park, Berkeley and others. The Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, UC San Francisco, the San Diego Unified, Los Angeles Unified, and Long Beach School Districts, Mount San Antonio College, the San Francisco Presidio Trust, the Getty Conservation Institute, Cal Trans, SCE, PG&E, NASA, GSA, USGS, and numerous other developers, institutions and corporations have engaged his services for historic documentation.
HABS GUY on roof
Mr. Schafer is an expert in architectural photography with a practiced understanding of historic structures. His documentary photographs have been used to nominate sites to the National Register of Historic Places and as CEQA and NEPA mitigation measures. He specializes in 4x5” and 5x7” archival, large format photography adhering to the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Architectural, Engineering and Landscape Documentation.

The focus of his historic survey work is historic buildings, landscapes and engineering projects that range from a Cold-War stealth ship to an 1840s adobe. These photo-documents are transmitted to the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS), the Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) and the Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) collections at the Library of Congress. His photography has taken him to 20 countries worldwide and most of the United States but he also regularly documents the changing local neighborhoods and buildings in his hometown of Ventura

After finishing his studies at Brooks Institute of Photography, Santa Barbara and the University of Cape Town, South Africa, Mr. Schafer’s work earned him considerable distinction in his field, allowing him the rare opportunity to teach in the University of Pittsburgh’s Semester at Sea program aboard an ocean liner circumnavigating the globe. He also teaches photography as an adjunct professor at California State University Northridge, at Ventura College and at the Los Angeles Center of Photography.

He regularly presents workshops and lectures on all aspects of photography and also on historic preservation and CEQA compliance at the University of Southern California and at the California Preservation Foundation conferences in addition to presenting lectures at the American Planning Association conference and to archivists at the National Archives in Washington DC. Mr. Schafer currently serves on the boards of the Association for Preservation Technology – Western Chapter, the San Buenaventura Conservancy and he is an appointee to the Ventura County Cultural Heritage Board. He lives in downtown Ventura with his wife Sherry, in an 1881 folk Victorian farmhouse that they rehabilitated in 2001.

Download a Printable BIO (PDF): SCHAFPHOTO-BIO.PDF

See Our Projects List (PDF): PROJECTS LIST.PDF



Past Lectures & Presentations by Stephen Schafer:



Association For Preservation Technology International Documentation Technologies Workshop, Point Reyes National Seashore, Marin County, California, hands-on demonstrations and lecture on HABS/HAER/HALS photography. February 2017.

Light Anything, Anytime, Anywhere,
the Los Angeles Center of Photography Workshops, Hollywood, California, February and August 2015, March 2016 and April 2, 2017.

Technical Approaches to Documentation, USC Summer Preservation Intensive, Documentation Day presenter, USC, Los Angeles, California, July 2011, 2015, 2016.

HABS/HAER/HALS Photo Documentation, University of Southern California, ARCH 552 Guest Lecturer, Los Angeles, California. 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015 and September 2016.

The New Photographers of Mid Century Modern Architecture, Moderator, Modernism Week, Palm Springs art Museum, Annenberg Theater, Palm Springs, California, February 2016.

HABS, HAER, HALS Photography In Depth, California Preservation Foundation, Precision Preservation Workshop, Mare Island Navy Base, Vallejo, California, November 2015.

Historic Context Statements Sessions & CEQA Mitigation Strategies Sessions, California Preservation Foundation – Workshops, Norco, Ventura, Sonoma, San Francisco, California, July 2011. San Francisco, California, December 2010. March 2014 & July 2015.

Introduction to Large Format Photography, the Los Angeles Center of Photography Workshops, Hollywood, California, March 2015.

Then & Now Architectural Photography, Museum of Ventura County, Arts & Letters, Ventura, California, September 2013.

CEQA Mitigation for Historic Resources, California Preservation Foundation, CEQA Legal Issues Workshop, San Francisco, California, July 2013 and also American Planning Association, APA-CA Annual Conference, Santa Barbara, California, September 2011. Webinar Here: californiapreservation-events-CEQA-mitigation

FOCUS ON THE FUTURE: Creating Born-Digital Standards for Large Format Photography, with Anne Mason, HDP, Society for Imaging Science & Technology, 2013 IS&T Imaging Symposium, National Archives, Washington DC, April 2013.

New Photo Technologies for HABS, HAER, HALS & Surveys, CPF, 37th Annual Preservation Conference Workshop May 2012. Oakland, California. Also sessions at CPF workshops November 2011 & February 2012.PT-Colma-2017-schafphoto-0860-HAER_Photograph_by_S_Schafer-0860.jpg

Architectural Photography and Documentation for Preservation Professionals, California Preservation Foundation Workshop, 35th & 36th Annual Preservation Conferences, May 2010 and 2011. December 2010. August & October 2009.

Building Relationships in Public Policy, Santa Barbara Conservancy – Keynote Speaker, Santa Barbara, California, February 2011.

Photography for Historic Resource Surveys, CPF, Historic Resource Survey Workshop, Tustin, California, January 2010.

The Fast & Furious: The Reality of Assignment Shoots, The Julia Dean Photo Workshops, Venice, California, October 2009.

The Poetry of Infrared, Film & digital infrared photography Workshop, at Freestyle Photographic, Hollywood, California, August 2009.

Survey Photography for SurveyLA, City of Los Angeles Office of Historic Resources, Los Angeles City Hall, December 2008. Tutorial available online:

A Photographer's View, CPF, Secretary of the Interior Standards Workshops, Ventura & San Francisco, 2008.

From Shoot to Show: Preparing your Images for Exhibit, The Julia Dean Photo Workshops, Venice, California, 2007.

Creative Tabletops: Understanding Product Lighting, The Julia Dean Photo Workshops, Venice California, 2006

Shooting Interiors from Start to Finish, Calumet Photographic, Saturday workshop series, Santa Barbara, California, 1999.


 Stephen Schafer  |  SCHAF PHOTO STUDIOS

HABS HAER HALS & Architectural Photography

Ventura, California  |  805.652.1000