Juergen Teller Gets Honest About Photography

German photographer Juergen Teller rose to fame in the 1990s for his matter-of-fact editorial style. His candid images of models, celebrities, strangers and friends radiate with the complications of life: humor, death, ugliness, unremitting beauty. Now it all comes neatly packaged in a new volume of his shoots by Rizzoli: "Donkey Man and Other Stories: Editorial Works Volume 1." We caught up with one of the greats.

Cultured Magazine

Photography by Juergen Teller

Self-portrait by Juergen Teller for Cultured Magazine.

In your mind, how has editorial changed over the last 30 years? How has it remained the same?

Juergen Teller: Certain good magazines I work for give me more space and pages and I have more freedom to publish fairy tales.

What do you want to see more of in the future of publishing?

JT: That magazines still exist in the future. I am very fond of them.

Is it important for photography to seek honesty?

JT: Photography can be anything.

What does it mean, “honesty”?

JT: I’m honest to myself in terms of taking pictures, building narratives and what I want to express.

Does the act of photography feel like a performance?

JT: Yes, it can. You are like a director and gently direct people in front of the camera (or behind) to whatever you want to achieve. It’s a performance in terms of how you behave and make subjects laugh or be serious.

Describe your favorite shoot of the past six months.

JT: It’s a project my fiancée Dovile and I are working on that is related to our wedding, where the wedding guests will be given a personal gift. More I can’t say yet, but it’s excellent, exciting fun, physically demanding and something I’m proud of.

What’s the last image on your camera roll?

JT: Outside a bar in Venice, watching Italy beat England in the football final of Euro 2020.

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