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Juergen Teller, photographer, isn’t sexy

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 21, 2008

I found this New York magazine profile of fashion photographer Juergen Teller pretty fascinating. For one thing, none of Teller’s photos are retouched.

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’s just so crazy, so why do I have to put some retouching on it? It’s just pointless to me.”

And then there’s this anecdote. After a bad encounter with a subject who didn’t like how old she looked in Teller’s photographs, he went to see his friend Charlotte Rampling.

Despondent, Teller called his friend Rampling, who offered to cook him dinner. They talked about how it feels to be photographed, and how it feels to age. “I just thought, Fuck this, I’m going to photograph myself,” he says. And then there the two of them were, in the Louis XV suite of the Hotel de Crillon, with Teller way too fat to fit into any of the Marc Jacobs samples save one terribly shiny pair of silver shorts.

“I thought, Fuck,” Teller says, “I don’t even fucking fit into these clothes. I’m really fucking stuck now.”

So he pulled on the shorts in the bathroom. “I came out and I had my socks on and I had these shorts on and no top, and I just said, ‘Ta-da!’ And she said, ‘Oh my God. What are we going to do?’ And I said, ‘Well, I don’t know. But really, honestly’-and I could hardly bring it out of my mouth-I said, ‘I just want to kiss you and fondle your breasts.’ And she didn’t say a word. She just leaned back in her armchair and went into her handbag and got a cigarillo out and lit it and the air was thick and I was mortified. And then she sort of dragged on her cigarette and said, ‘Okay. Let’s start. I’ll tell you when to stop.’”

Here are some of the images that resulted from that shoot (NSFW).