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Horst Diekgerdes Fashion Photography
Stephanie Kunz, AnOther Magazine, 2003Photography Horst Diekgerdes

Charting the photographic legacy of Horst Diekgerdes

We talk to the acclaimed photographer about the making of his first-ever book

Horst Diekgerdes is the German-born photographer that has, over the years, shot ad campaigns for Miu Miu, album covers for Pulp (This Is Hardcore) and portraits of cultural icons ranging from Alexander McQueen to Erykah Badu. Though his subjects may vary, his visual language is distinctive – sensual, yet always slightly off-kilter. Proof of this can be found in his first-ever monograph, conceived as a visual journey beginning back in the mid-1990s.

Standouts from the book include his Chloé SS01 ad campaign and the book’s cover image, which depicts Pirelli favourite Isabeli Fontana, her eyes clouded over. There are also unpublished portraits from Diekgerdes’ archive, observational snapshots of daily life and text by Veronique Leroy and Dazed co-founder Jefferson Hack. Not only does the book chart the photographer’s illustrious career, it provides the reader with a glimpse of the world through his lens. Here, Diekgerdes tells us more about the project.

How did you go about selecting images for the book?

Horst Diekgerdes: Selecting images was probably the most difficult part of the project. It was really an ongoing dialogue with Beda Achermann, the art director. We decided to select images that were eccentric but showed a certain empathy towards the subjects. It was really about choosing images that had a surreal element but in a normal setting; photographs which exemplified my portrait work and the relationship I have with my subjects. 

You’ve shot for the likes of Hermès and Missoni in the past, do you have a favourite ad campaign?

Horst Diekgerdes: I don’t really have a favourite, but shooting the Miu Miu (AW00) campaign with David Bradshaw and David James was a very special and formative experience. Although the finished result isn’t in the book I still have very fond memories of that shoot. We worked 18 hours a day for three weeks, so it was a constant work in progress. Thanks Miuccia!

You’re fairly active on Instagram, what do you think of it as a tool for expression?

Horst Diekgerdes: I see Instagram as a playground where I can share my view of my environment and let people know what I’m up to. I don’t take it too seriously though.

“I think the role of the photographer as a director and visionary is still very much in demand and will continue to be so” – Horst Diekgerdes

How do you think the landscape of fashion photography has changed since the beginning of your career?

Horst Diekgerdes: It’s different now, but there’s no judgement or nostalgia on my side. Sampling and referencing are a lot more important, but I think the role of the photographer as a director and visionary is still very much in demand and will continue to be so. Change is an inherent part of our medium. The capacity to edit and make decisions will always dominate the technical progress of our job, but technology is changing and new cameras are on their way – I can’t wait to use these new toys!

The book includes more candid photographs alongside the fashion shots – to what extent is your own private world an influence on your work in fashion?

Horst Diekgerdes: Having a life that can influence your point of view is key, it makes a real difference. Nowadays everyone can take a good technical picture, but without a life filled with love and emotion it won’t get very far. I feel like I show this in my book.