Capturing the unexceptional with Juergen Teller
As cliche as it sounds, I can still remember the first time I stumbled upon a Juergen Teller image. It was his infamous photograph of Victoria Beckham in a shopping bag for Marc Jacobs. I've been hooked since. His amateur aesthetic pushed forward a new meaning for candid photography and offered the fashion world a form of authenticity it so often lacks.
The german photographer first got his start in the music industry, capturing 90’s superstars like Nirvana and New Order. He quickly rose to fame when he swapped rockers for supermodels, transposing his idiosyncratic style from music to high fashion. Around 1995, the fashion advertising industry was saturated with staged, picture-perfect images taken in high-budget studios. Teller did the opposite. By capturing world-renowned celebrities in mundane surroundings, like Kate Moss in bed or Marion Cotillard just getting out of the shower, he originated a raw, behind-the-scenes feel that may seem overplayed today but was quite a new concept in the early 2000s.
His pictures encompass a certain glamour that you could say relies on deglamorization. Some might even say that Teller’s photography is a subtle commentary on fame: his aesthetic is centered on closing down the gap between celebrities and non-celebrities by capturing his subjects unposed and unretouched, like "ordinary people". Most recently, his informal style of photography was heavily critiqued. The internet was quick to hate when Riz Ahmed jokingly commented that "This @wmag shoot was the fastest of my life. 20 seconds, two clicks. "
Don't let yourself be fooled by the he humor and nonchalant quality of Teller’s photography : he takes his work very seriously and his methods are not arbitrary. To capture his models unposed,he usually shoots with two point-and-shoot cameras (a contact G2) at the time. He has this wild quality, this artistery that convinces people to let go of their public image and simply be themselves,unfiltered.Afterall,It truly takes someone talented to convice Kim Kardashian to pose laying in a mound of dirt!
It is not by chance, but by pure talent, that Teller shot advertising campaigns for Marc Jacobs for over a decade.He has also worked with some of the world most-renowed fashion powerhouses such as Celine,Margiela and Vivienne Westwood.
To further quote Riz Ahmed:
" Juergen Teller is the OG".