Glitter and Grain
Juergen Teller, as described by Adrienne Lai, performs a rather atypical function in modern society: through his images, the photographer renegotiates the social distance between celebrities and the public. After a brief mention of Leo Braudy’s history of images and their mechanical reproduction—which serves to provide a context for understanding a contemporary cultural climate that finds itself both saturated with images and, perhaps more importantly, mass produced and manufactured images—Lai discusses how modern celebrity photography often appears in service of brand construction or maintenance as it tries to capture the essence of the subject (2006). Teller’s work, however, is positioned in opposition to both the glamour magazine photo shoot, with its inherent falsities and illusions, and the raw pictures of paparazzi (which I would argue also contain facetious elements as they present a skewed representation of reality that lacks context). As described by Lai, Teller’s photography represents the sort of intimacy that one would associate with a friend capturing a stolen moment (2006).
Significantly, the sense of intimacy engendered by Teller’s images serves to develop parasocial interactions as audiences begin to feel closer to the subjects. Through the witnessing of Teller’s work, the public can gain the perspective of a celebrity confidant—even if only momentarily—in a one-way expression of intimacy. This, to an audience that craves validation and recognition by stars, represents an authentic realness (and one distinctly different, Lai suggests, from reality television and the spin of mainstream media); Teller’s photographs speak to the “real” even though they are, by their very nature, constructed (Lai, 2006).
 Lai, A. (2006). Glitter and Grain: Aura and authenticity in the celebrity photographs of Juergen Teller. In S. Holmes, & S. Redmon (Eds.), Framing Celebrity: New Directions in Celebrity Culture (pp. 215-230). New York: Routledge.