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Peter Kaaden

We meet the German-born, New York-based photographer working with Ryan McGinley who explores his love of nudity and alt porn

Dazed speak to the young German photographer, Peter Kaaden, born in Essen and now based in New York, where he works with the likes of Ryan McGinley. He chats to us about the influences of nudity and rebellion in his photography work and his memories of his first ever pictures taken...

Dazed Digital: What was the first photograph you ever took?
Peter Kaaden:
When I was a small child. My mum was working as a stylist in a German fashion photography studio. She was working a lot so I had to hang out there from time to time. I never really cared about what was going on there, but once a photographer there set up a big polaroid camera for me and I took a picture. I can't remember the scene and the picture anymore, but I remember the situation and the process. It really fascinated me!

DD: What types of people inspire you to take their photograph?
Peter Kaaden: I always shoot friends or people I have any kind of relationship with. Sometimes even people I want to be friends with. Interesting people. Weird people. Beautiful or crazy minds. The reasons are different. Just being beautiful and nice looking is simply not enough and too boring.

DD: Why do you think that nudity and male genitalia feature so often in your images?
Peter Kaaden: This is my life. It's not just breaking rules but it's a rebellion. Nudity is a strange theme... actually still a no-go in most cultures and for many people I know. I don't know why but nudity, shooting nude people and being nude everywhere by myself lets me feel free, wild and young and that's what I also try to deliver in my pictures. If it is a vagina or a penis doesn't it matter, for me it's the same as taking pictures of people who are taking drugs or are partying drunk. This is our youth and I'm a part of it.

DD: Which do you prefer; photographs whose subjects are contrived or spontaneous?
Peter Kaaden: Spontaneous ones! But there is somewhere in between which I really love to work with. When people see my pictures they shouldn't think: "oh yes. This is a well-styled picture" or that the person in it is really beautiful. I want them to think: "I want to be in this situation." Most young boys are watching a lot of porn at the same time in their lives when they find out what they like aesthetically. So the easiest way for me to answer this question is with porn. When I was younger I didn't like big porn movies with "famous" actress', bodybuilders, well-lit sets and stupid screenplays. I preferred amateur porn with real people who seem to be in real situations. This is also the reason why I work on film and without retouching. It has to be honest, even if there is little direction from my side.

DD: Are there any photographers in particular whose work you admire?
Peter Kaaden: There are so many. I think Boris Mikhailov I admire most. He is the most honest photographer I know. But also Ari Marcopoulos, Jürgen Teller, Ryan McGinley and Nan Goldin have a big influence on me.