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Nipples, butts, open mouths and loads of flesh flood the pictures of Peter Kaaden, a German photographer whose practice is straightforward, taboo-breaking and explicitly sensual. He admits not understanding why Instagram’s guidelines are so permissive with violence of any kind while censoring our own naked nature – neither do we. But through his unique gaze, he’ll keep pushing the boundaries between the public and the private, the sensual, the sexual and the provocative.
First of all, could you please introduce yourself?
Hey! I’m Peter, I’m twenty-eight years old, and I was born and raised in West Germany – although I lived a couple of years in New York. I am currently working and living in Berlin, but I travel a lot. Oh, and I’m a photographer.
How was your love for photography born?
My mum is a fashion stylist and was working a lot while I was young, so I had to hang in photo studios when I was a kid. I think this is where it comes from. Also, I’m not good at anything else. Photography was always and always will be everything to me.

Do you only shoot in analogue film? If so, why and would you ever consider working with digital photography?
A lot of people think I shoot film because of the look, but I don’t even care that much about it. Many young photographers are shooting analogue now and also scanning the frames and stuff so that everybody sees it. But I’m doing it because I love the way film works. I’m the only one on set who knows how the pictures look like. Both clients and models have to trust me. In addition, I love the day in between before getting the results. And also, digital cameras just don’t sound and feel right.
In your own words, what makes an image powerful?
Honesty. Nothing else.
Can you describe your youth in three words?
Wild, free, and honest.

You were based in New York for some time but are now living and working mostly in Berlin. What do you love and hate most about each city?
Actually, I REALLY HATE NEW YORK; it was amazing moving there back then, but life quality is very low if you don't make enough money. Berlin is the total opposite: it’s cheap and you have loads of space to do what you want. Of course, there are also things I really hate about Berlin, starting with techno – I never got this music. I think electronic music is one of the biggest mistakes the world ever made.
While in New York, you worked with American photographers Ryan McGinley and Ruvan Wijesooriya. What was that experience like and how has it influenced you creatively?
Coming to New York and starting at Ryan’s studio on the first day was mind-blowing. I mean, I was eighteen or nineteen back then, and Ryan was my favourite photographer. It helped me a lot to find my own way. But if you work for a famous photographer, I believe the most important matter is to find the right time to leave and to do your own thing.
A lot of your work features explicit content, so you don’t seem to shy away from nudity and taboo. What are your thoughts on censorship and the lack thereof in modern times and media?
I think censorship is important but I don’t understand the guidelines of Instagram and company. Nudity is something that is in all of us; we were all born like that. Nipples are not allowed but almost any kind of violence is. I don’t understand that.

Your editorials have been featured in Dazed, Schön, Rolling Stones, and GQ among many other publications. Do you favour shooting fashion editorials or working on more personal projects?
To be honest, there was a time where I shot so many editorials that I just wanted to never do that again – especially fashion. I hated fashion shootings. But for the past two years, I started loving to do that again. I think it is something that will keep changing.
This year you’re set to publish a book. Could you give us more details about what will we find in it?
Yes, but I don’t want to say much. There’s something coming out… My last book was launched in 2013, so there is a lot of work that needs to be shown.
In addition to this publication, what projects are you currently working on?
I’m working on my first still-life exhibition – it will only feature still-lives, but it will be 100% me. But there’s a long way to get there.

Andrea Toro

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