An evening with Juergen Teller

Amy Christian (Inhouse story-gatherer) has been busy. She’s visited acclaimed photographer Juergen Teller’s latest exhibition in London. And she’s also been part of a Guardian Masterclass run by the great man himself. Here, she tells us all about it.

Considered one of the greats in the photography world, Juergen Teller‘s work straddles the invisible wall between fine art and fashion. With a diaristic realism and gritty edginess that is unusual in the fashion world, looking at his images can often feel as though you are seeing the ‘real’ person, unusual in an industry saturated with high definition, ultra glossy, hyper -real imagery.

His recent exhibition at the ICA in London included some of the work he is most famous for – Kate Moss in a wheelbarrow, advertising work for Marc Jacobs and a naked Vivienne Westwood. But it was his more personal work that I went to see and which interests me the most. A series of images from the forests where he grew up in Germany – a ‘love letter’ to his mother, and photos of his children as they grow up, each one conveying a tenderness and authenticity that is, at times, lost in a world of consumerism.

On Friday I was lucky enough to attend a master class with Teller organised by the Guardian at the Royal Geographical Society. It took 3 hours to get there in the wind and icy cold rain, but was well worth the effort, I left feeling inspired and encouraged.

Teller’s approach and attitude is not that of the mega star but instead of a man who simply photographs the world without attempting to fit into a mould. He has over the years created a ‘look’ that is instantly recognisable and entirely his own. He shoots everything on film and continues to use the same camera he started out with all those years ago. Teller arrived in London not speaking a word of English, an escape route from mandatory military service in Germany and an opportunity to follow his dream of a career in photography.

He eventually found himself assisting the great Nick Knight and developing his craft alongside other photographers such as Corine Day in an exciting world of fashion and music. His photographs of Kurt Cobain and Kate Moss are amongst his most well known.

It is evident in all of his work that Juergen connects with the people he is photographing, he says himself that he takes a journey with people, has fun with people, and he tells their story with an honesty and tenderness that is truly unique. The thing that inspires and interests me most about Teller though, is that his work is proof that it’s possible to cross divides and break down ideas of what works for an industry and what doesn’t. Oxfam did this when we worked with Rankin, proving that sometimes applying a new visual style to a subject can help us see it in an entirely new way.

To find out more about Juergen’s latest exhibition, watch this video interview he did with The Guardian.