“There is always a story to tell, some funny thing like when I shot OJ Simpson – strange, bizarre, boring, exciting things. It’s an adventure when you do a shoot. I believe I invite this openness with people where they do things for me, or tell me things.”
Juergen Teller had an unconventional introduction to fashion photography. But then again, everything about the world-acclaimed photographer is extraordinairy. Before Teller made his breakthrough in 1996 Süddeutsche Zeitung Magazine with a front cover featuring Kristen McMenamy completely nude with the inscription ‘Versace’ drawn across her chest with a heart, his photos were posted primarily on album covers.
With his over-exposed style and unusual approach to ‘staging,’ his work is easy to spot in the magazines. He has the gift to get make his subjects so comfortable that they will do just about anything, and it’s not out of the ordinary for him to get involved in the theatrics that lead to his unconventional shots. One can see him in the images, often naked, and sometimes fondling and kissing his studies.
“I wouldn’t dream of saying to Charlotte Rampling, ‘Can I kiss you and fondle your breasts?’ You know? But in this adventure we’re doing with the camera, you’re making a fairytale, a visual fairytale.”
Though he started out as Marc Jacobs photographer, creating all Jacob’s campaigns from 1998 until 2014— Teller shoots practically half of the meaningful fashion campaign these days. Just this year he has shot Céline, Sonia Rykiel, Louis Vuitton, Bottega Veneta, and Vivienne Westwood’s ads and a number of other editorials for all the major publications. And over his career he has shot countless celebrities; Bjork, Kate Moss, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Vivienne Westwood, Milla Jovovich, Emma Stone, and almost every other big name.
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The fact that amidst this success, Juergen Teller has stayed true to his photographic ideals is unique. In an industry that often demands the photographer be what his client wants him to be, Teller has refused to be anything other than what he is. And his refusal to conform came to define his defiant kind of technique.
‘’I’m just interested in the person, what they do and how they really look. I’m not really interested in – intellectually or as a heterosexual man – some sort of airbrushed, bimbo thing. I just cannot relate to it and I do not think they look prettier or better. I really like it when someone is confident within themselves. I’ve used partly older women in campaigns or, let’s not say not so pretty but interesting-looking, or even myself who’s more overweight. But I’m happy with myself and I think that’s important.”
A point of view about artistic direction and self-confidence, from a man that actually means what he’s saying, is definitely worth considering.
Story by Lindsey Alexander, quotes from dazed.com