Juergen Teller, “Pettitoe, Suffolk, 2011,” a photograph from his “Keys to the House” series exhibited earlier this year at New York’s Lehmann Maupin gallery.
“I can achieve something in a very quick moment. But it does get very personal. I think I open up a lot too. I don’t come around as the archetype fashion photographer dude, playing the big guy with the horde of assistants. I let them know I’m also nervous or insecure. Then I let them relax. The way I photograph is quite hypnotizing. I found a way to hide my insecurity—I have two cameras and I photograph like this [mimes cameras in each hand moving hypnotically] and this helps me to figure out what I should do, where they should go…it’s so intense, so psychologically draining, it’s like my brain works on overdrive in those minutes—or hours or days—I’m photographing. That’s why I can’t do it so much because I’m really super-concentrated. Other people think it’s a stupid snapshot—I get that a lot—but it’s very precise. And it has to be very fast because if I’m on a job or something, I can’t just doodle around and days go past and I take a picture. Sometimes there’s a lot of money involved and I have a responsibility to the client to get the fucking thing done. A lot of other people say, “Stand like that, stay like that,” and they do a Polaroid and everyone—all the assistants, the hair and makeup, everyone—stands around looking at the Polaroid or nowadays looking at the screen, then they say, “Let’s do it, shoot,” by which time the model is so tense the Polaroid is better than the end product. I ease that up where they don’t feel necessarily, ‘This is the big decisive moment.’”