Juergen Teller sounds fucking great:
There is grit to a Juergen Teller photograph, even when it’s one of his lucrative high-fashion ads. A kind of raw, what-you-see-is-what-you-get sensibility that shows the sometimes very ugly side of a supposedly beautiful business. The photographs are undeniably sexy, but sexy in the sense that you can practically smell them. And they don’t, necessarily, smell like expensive designer perfume.
All this rawness is not presented as critique; “Look,” Teller says, “I have a Mercedes. I wear a Rolex watch. I have no problem with the selling of things.” Rather, it’s offered up mostly as realism: Here, the pictures say, this is what people look like. Sometimes beautiful, sometimes tragic, sometimes kind of gross. The pictures can be funny, too. Commissioned to shoot fine jewelry for Phillips auction house, Teller piled diamonds on members of his own family, from his infant son, Ed (adorably bundled into a Motörhead onesie), to Uncle Arthur, visiting from Germany at the ripe old age of 73.
“Why not?” Teller says, deadpan. “My family likes jewelry.”
He photographed Angela Lindvall with a mound of white Champagne foam coming out of her crotch and named it New York, Paris, Milan I’m Coming. He named another series “Fashion Wank.”
Rather than saturating the colors and bleeding his image off the edge of a page, as is typical for a fashion shoot, Teller uses a raw flash that blasts his subjects and keeps his colors soft and somewhat muted. And the pictures are always surrounded by loads of white space; for the W story, Teller will leave a number of pages blank. Sometimes the models in Teller’s pictures are tiny and distant, the color and sheen of their clothes nearly imperceptible.
But perhaps most rare for fashion photography, Teller’s pictures are absolutely never retouched. “I’m interested in the person I photograph,” he says. “The world is so beautiful as it is, there’s so much going on which is sort of interesting. It’
“Photography is painting with light! The blurs, the spots, those are errors! But the errors are part of it, they give it poetry and turn it into painting. And for that you need as bad a camera as possible! If you want to be famous, you have to do whatever you’re doing worse than anyone else in the whole world.”