This beauty ideal is everywhere. You can’t escape it—TV, wallpaper, posters, billboards, magazines. They put on these crazy perceptions about what people should look like. It’s really shocking the way everybody is striving for this one thing, this ultimate beauty, but what is it?
I don’t like taking a sly picture on the side. I like the direct approach. I want to be as honest to myself and the subject as possible. And I’m depending on their humanness to come through.
... it felt for me very strange how uneasy English and American people are within themselves, within their bodies, which didn’t really exist how I grew up. When I lived in Munich from the age of 20 to 22 and shared a flat with different people, you’d walk naked through the kitchen to make yourself a cup of coffee. And this was such a shock for me, arriving in [England] and how uneasy they feel with their body. Like, you fuck a woman—you fuck their brains out—and then when she goes to the toilet, she puts a towel round her because she’s embarrassed. For me that’s a big shock.
The relationship I have with my mother now, and photographing her in front of the grave, it opens up discussions, and dealings with the conversations with my mother about, when I was little, how we lived and about suicide and talking about it, so it’s something positive, it brought us more together, because people might never discuss that. Some families never go near certain subjects because it’s too hurtful or too close or too dangerous. But within doing these photographs, I also wanted to open up a conversation with her about certain things about life.
You develop more confidence within the world, as a human being, about taking risks. And on one level not taking things so seriously, and then again, taking things so seriously that you can allow yourself to have fun with it. I have that chance of making that fucking space my own—let’s go in there and piss in the corner if it feels great.
When you’re a well-known fashion photographer, modeling agencies call constantly. They’ll say, “This great girl is in town for three days. She’s excellent, she’s exciting. You’ve got to see her...” So I decided to really have a look at them. I opened up my studio and said, “Send anyone...” And I became quite addicted to the whole thing. I was curious to see how many girls would come. I couldn’t believe that there really were so many around.
I don’t care about fashion at all. And I know it’s kind of a dodgy thing to be a fashion photographer, a kind of pathetic occupation, but I like it, even though I question it.