W Mag Slammed for Horrible Celeb Photos, But That’s Just Juergen Teller’s Style

Fashion magazine W sparked a great deal of ridicule recently over the celebrity portraits in its latest Best Performances issue — photos criticized as being uninspired, of poor taste, technically flawed, and amateurish. That may all be true, but it was also intentional — that’s just photographer Juergen Teller’s trademark style…

W Magazine‘s latest annual Best Performances issue features portraits of Riz Ahmed, Jacob Elordi, LaKeith Stanfield, Jonathan Majors, Steven Yeun, Michelle Pfeiffer, Sacha Baron Cohen, Tessa Thompson, and more. The celebrities are seen posing in various mundane locations on a nondescript sidewalk.

The photo posts on W Magazine‘s Instagram account have been flooded with mostly negative criticisms of the portraits. Here’s a sampling of the harsh comments:

“Is WMag ok?”

“But like who took the photos??? Why did they not respect basic techniques??!”

“D**n like why do I even try as a photographer when you guys are publishing bland-a** celeb fotos like this…..”

“Wtf kind of photography is this? You paying people for this s**t?”

“will the photographer be jailed”

“What is with this embarrassingly bad design and camera phone photography? Is this supposed to be ironic? Who nephew were you forced to hire?”

“laziest photography ive ever seen”

“these photos are absolutely awful….not one of these stunning people have been done justice…like not even close”

“fire everyone involved with these photoshoots”

“I’m going to report this account everyday until yall get a new photographer”

“These are the worst photos I’ve seen in a magazine spread ever lmao”

“This has to be a social experiment… my dog could take this photo”

“I’m starting to think the creative team got locked out of their photo studio and had to shoot all of the celebs on the street with an iPhone 4s.”

What most of the commenting critics may not know is that the portraits are intentionally “bad.” The photographer behind them was German fine art and fashion photographer Juergen Teller, who has made a name for himself internationally by snapping the same kind of “amateurish” snapshots regardless of how famous or powerful his subjects are.

“Since the beginning his career in the late 1980s, Teller has blurred the boundaries between his commissioned and personal work in his numerous campaigns, editorials, publications and exhibitions,” Wikipedia states. “Teller treats all of his subjects — family members, celebrities, and himself with a uniform style of grit, raw emotion and humor that has become his iconic and recognizable aesthetic.”

Photographer Juergen Teller in 2013. Photo by Pascal Ferro and licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

English actor Riz Ahmed revealed on Twitter that his shoot with Teller lasted all but 20 seconds.

Although Teller’s portraits were called “ridiculous” by the L.A. Times and “weirdo photos” by Artnet, other critics are coming to their defense.

“These weren’t the kind of photos that you’d post on Instagram; they were the kind of pictures that a friend might take of you, upload to their story, and then tag you in,” writes Naomi Fry of The New Yorker. “As I clicked through the images, I marveled at Teller’s coherent vision. For the past thirty years, he has taught us that being just a little bit ugly is cool.”

“If you don’t get Juergen Teller’s shoot, maybe Instagram rotted your brain,” writes Highsnobiety. “Teller’s aesthetic has hinged around breaking the fourth-wall between celebrity and non-celebrity by framing his subjects as candid ‘real people.’ They eschew the trappings of a glam squad, photoshop, and meticulously detailed creative direction informing every shot.”

The Internet has since responded to Teller’s recent W Magazine shoot with humorous meme examples of its own:

Teller’s photos have continually caused controversy over the years, but his style (or lack thereof) has definitely been working — the 57-year-old photographer is now one of the world’s most famous and successful photographers. And with social media buzzing about W Magazine‘s latest issue, we’re guessing the publication isn’t complaining about the results either.

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