Yesterday, we went to the Taschen store in SoHo, just down the street from our offices, to meet Richard Kern. His new book, Shot By Kern, is now for sale there, and for the launch, he spoke about the making of the monograph and the Vice show of the same name—he’s not exclusively a photographer for the magazine and website, despite the popular belief of a younger crowd. Kern made his mark shooting videos of Lydia Lunch and Sonic Youth in the 1980s and 90s, but videos of him shooting pictures of naked or nearly naked women have almost become more iconic in recent times.
In fact, he said, he’s far from exclusively working for anyone. “I’ll shoot anything anyone asks me to,” he said, in all seriousness. The book comes with a DVD of the footage Kern shot while being filmed for the series Shot By Kern (make sense?), soundtracked with original music by Thurston Moore.
For the past seven years, Kern’s been shooting feet for some fetish sites, videos for some musical acts, and many, many series of topless girls. The ages of the women in Shot By Kern average out to about 21, he ventured to guess, although, answering an audience member’s question, he has no maximum age. Younger women just happen to like taking their clothes off more, he told the crowd. “Especially in France.” Kern discovered many more interesting statistics accidentally, while traveling the world to shoot females in compromising positions—naked tooth-brushing, smoking weed, and putting on makeup in the dark are some of his favorite cues, while the voyeur series and upskirt shots are the undeniable crowd pleasers. For example, around half of the girls shot in the U.S. were medicated, whereas in many other countries, no one had considered or even heard of Adderal. And in Eastern Europe, Kern found girls with boom boxes instead of iPods.
When asked how he came off as less creepy than some fashion photographers while telling much younger women to disrobe and stare at him from between their own legs, Kern said he probably did sound creepy. “I’m a creepy guy, what can I say? But any real photographer will tell you, the magic happens when you get home, when you’re thinking about it later.”
images courtesy taschen