"The richest man in Ireland is the one with the best sense of humor."
The ingredients that fine art photographer Tony Kelly uses in his frames? Among other things, humour but also a strict choreography. And hard work. In the interview he also reveals what else makes a perfect photo for him - and what luxury means to him.
Mr. Kelly, what have you been doing these past few weeks?
I spent the past eight weeks working on my new book that I am calling Nowhere. It will be limited to 750 copies and is filled with photos of the empty Hollywood streets. My girlfriend is the only person in them. It was a unique opportunity – something like that will never happen again in my life.
What is the secret behind a perfect photo?
The secret is – there is no secret. It’s just hard work and the process is comparable to that of cooking or baking, with lots of ingredients that can be put together in different ways. You just have to go through the world with an open eye.
Your pictures are always choreographed down to the tiniest detail. How spontaneous are you?
Spontaneity is a luxury that I can only afford if the circumstances are right, if I have the right location and the right model. Then there’s the magical moment that can perhaps be compared to the favorite scene in a film – that’s my photos. Like the scene in Goodfellas where the guy carries the table through the restaurant. Films themselves don’t inspire me. Maybe a certain shot, but otherwise I create my own sequences. I was in Beverly Hills the other day and there were these two girls standing at a traffic light. One of them leaned against the other, raised up a leg, and tried to press the button of the traffic light with her foot so that it would turn green and she wouldn’t have to touch the button with her fingers. And I immediately thought: I have to recreate that right away. So my girlfriend put on her Christian Louboutin high heels and we reenacted that scene.
"But the ultimate luxury doesn’t consist of material goods. That’s also why I present luxury in my photos with an ironic nod. Because I am distanced from it. And this distance, for example, is the reason I photographed the Mercedes in the pool – it just looks better in it. "
Speaking of Christian Louboutin – how do you define luxury?
Without a doubt: inner peace. Of course, I could also call my Mercedes 560SL a luxury that I really love. Or cashmere. Or a Rolex. But the ultimate luxury doesn’t consist of material goods. That’s also why I present luxury in my photos with an ironic nod. Because I am distanced from it. And this distance, for example, is the reason I photographed the Mercedes in the pool – it just looks better in it. If someone had been attached to it, he would never have sunk it in the pool.
Though you also need a good sense of humor to do something like that.
That’ll have something to do with the fact that I grew up in Ireland. There it’s not about how much money you have, but how funny you are. The richest man in Ireland is the one with the best sense of humor.
Further highlights from 10 years of collaboration with Tony Kelly and new pictures of the photographer, creatively mixed with practical tips from advertising guru Paul Arden, who wants to encourage successful acting, can be found in the current rampstyle #20. And on the cover of one version, it appropriately bears a motif by Tony Kelly.