Vlad Kenner (1966) is born in Kiev, Ukraine and now lives and works in Brooklyn, NY, U.SA.
“Ever since I took my first image of the nude body, I’m struck by the intense, almost violent reaction I am getting from the viewers. I reject the popular notion of erotic art as being kind of the soft porn. The erotic image inevitably pushes us against the social and psychological taboos hidden deeply in our collective unconsciousness. The porn is unaware or rather oblivious of these taboos. The process of creating erotic art is both scary and fascinating at the same time.”
7 Questions an interview
When did you become interested in photography?
The photography’s ability to transcend the everydayness, while still maintaining connection to its documentary roots has fascinated me since my childhood. My father, an amateur photographer has kept a pile of photographic magazines from the friendly socialist counties. Some of the images published in there touched upon the topics which were taboos in the Soviet Union. I remember spending countless hours pouring through those pictures. On the other hand the nasty smell of chemicals and the restrictions on the movement imposed on us by my father’s improvised darkroom, were a huge turn off. I didn’t pick up the camera until digital DSLRs came of age in the mid 2000s.
Do you have your own studio or are you working on location?
I started out photographing in the studio. Learning the ropes of studio lighting was essential for my understanding of the medium. However, for the last three years I photograph almost exclusively on location, most often in models’ own homes. The tensions created by the interaction between humans and the environment which they created are the underlying theme of my photography.
Do you have assistance or are you working alone?
My lighting set up is rather simple and the makeup doesn’t play a role in my workflow, so I don’t really need an assistant. Not that I can afford one anyway. The photographic session, nude or not requires a certain degree of intimacy between the model and the photographer. Having someone else on the set is often a distraction.
Was it easy to find models when you started photographing nudes?
Finding models in NYC was relatively easy, the difficult part was to find real personalities, people who could challenge me on the intellectual and the emotional levels. It’s not a matter of experience or look, the model must fascinate, puzzle and inspire. I’m blessed by having been able to work with many wonderful models who have sharpened my vision and expanded my photographic limits.
What do you prefer: digital or analog?
We can spend hours discussing this topic, and I’m sure there are good arguments on both sides. But regardless what kind of light-sensitive device was used for the initial capture most of us consume the images electronically on the Internet. For me this simple fact settles the matter. We are all digital photographers now.
Do you have other artist(s) who you admire and inspire you?
I’m drawn to those photographers who go beyond the narrow definition of eroticism and examine social and cultural attitudes toward sexuality, while questioning the role of photography as an art medium… Nan Goldin, Alla Esipovich, Susan Egan and Naomi Harris…. And of course, Araki!
What is number one on your wishlist?
I’d like to be able to get outside the photographer-model circle and document the intimate lives of people with diverse backgrounds. This of course takes a lot more time and discipline, but I hope to do this sooner rather than later.