The Real Peter Lindbergh
Interview by Fabio Crovi, April 2016 (Italy)
A true master of photography, Peter Lindbergh has realized some of the most iconic photographs and now, in his early seventies he doesn’t seem to be slowing down. Lindbergh’s approach is spontaneous, yet his imagery encapsulates the distinct expressions of his various subjects. peter’s images exhibit honesty and grit and his signature style is often replicated, but very few photographers can capture the ease of their subjects like him.
FC Hi Peter, first of all thank you for your time. I know that you are travelling a lot: Los Angeles, Dubai, Miami, Rotterdam, London... are you working on some exciting projects?
PL Thank you Fabio, for the invitation to print some of the so called “iconic” images in your magazine. We’ve translated your term “iconic” into “known” or in our own context, “important”. In your first question you’ve mentioned the extreme amount of travelling during the last year, to realize projects and assignments. I must admit that this has been my life, for the last 30 years.
>"Trying to reflect the time you live in and have the chance of expressing your own point of view is a beautiful achievement, even if it’s only a little part of everything."
FC A couple of days ago on your super followed Instagram profile @therealpeterlindbergh, you posted a Vogue UK cover shot by you in January 1990 to wish a happy birthday to @cturlington. Let’s start from there, how was that period? Do you miss something about that time?
PL Absolutely not. Evolution is always more interesting than repetition. Trying to reflect the time you live in and have the chance of expressing a point of view, I mean your own point of view, is a beautiful achievement, even if it’s only a little part of everything.
FC I am a careful follower of your Instagram profile, do you take care of it personally? How much time do you spend on it and why?
PL I have totally changed my mind about Instagram in the last year. From being very much against the idea of sharing parts of your privacy with other people, most of them you‘ve never seen or heard of, somehow it gives you the possibility to share thoughts or experiences with people from very different places. I’ve randomly asked on a Saturday evening: “where are you?” and this has caused a surprising amount of answers from every corner of the world and I’ve understood for the first time the real force and beauty of Instagram. It reaches into the farthest corners of the world in a very individual way and it is up to you to make it an interesting way to bring people of all sorts closer together.
FC Do you think Instagram revolution has influenced photography?
PL I don’t think Instagram has influenced photography. But it has turned every human being into a photographer, or better, it gives millions of fellow humans the feeling to be a photographer. There is often a great spontaneity in those pictures and let me say that the so called “real photography” can learn a lot from these images.
>"Ninety percent of fashion photography, then or today, are meaningless and without any interest, except helping the fashion industry to sell clothes."
FC From an interview we did ten years ago about “fashion photography as a form of art” you answered saying that ninety percent of fashion photography is trash, only five to ten percent could have been considered as expression of art. Nowadays, considering Instagram, have you changed your mind? Has everything got worse?
PL I don’t believe that I’ve said “only five to ten percent could have been considered as expression of art” because I’m not interested, neither concerned, with the idea of photography being art or not. I might have said that ninety percent of fashion photography, then or today, are meaningless and without any interest, except helping the fashion industry to sell clothes. Needless to say, that they’re a few wonderful exceptions around.
FC You started when you were twenty-six years old, has something changed in your way of approaching photography?
PL Not really, as the process of creating something, comes along with a certain insecurity, something what never really changes very much over the years, at least when you try to find your own way of expression.
FC Are you interested in emerging photographers? Is there anyone that caught your attention?
PL I don’t see much fashion photography in magazines, but nevertheless I could tell you the names of some newer photographers, what I’m not going to do, to be fair to the ones I don’t know.
>"It's about photographing this “magic space”, situated between the photographer and the subject he’s photographing and not about the “architecture” of faces."
FC In a previous interview you said that the quality of the shot depends on something that is extremely important and that could be found in the image itself, the subject for example. Is there a subject that inspires you? Do you have a muse?
PL There are quite a few muses, but they will remain secret here, as they loose the magic when publicly exposed. (Laughing) I feel more and more, that it is about photographing this “magic space”, situated between the photographer and the subject he’s photographing and not about the “architecture” of faces.
FC How are you doing nowadays? Do you have unrealized projects that you aim to achieve?
PL Today I shouldn’t work as much as I do, because I’ve always thought that now, in this part of my life, I should have the time to reflect and to find out more about everything I’ve seen. But then, thinking about photography, there is so much left to do... Here is a link to a very big project I’m working on with Thierry-Maxime Loriot, a curator from Montréal who also curated the extremely successful Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition that has been visited by two million people. It will be first presented at the Kunsthal in Rotterdam and travel around the world after, it is the first museum Rem Koolhaas has built. Thierry and I worked together almost three years on it, researching images, photographs won’t be presented like a retrospective but through my passions and obsessions for the past decades.
FC I know that you are having another flight, thank you so much Peter.
PL Thanks so much Fabio.