Kenneth Willardt on The Beauty Book
Danish photographer Kenneth Willardt has an uncanny ability to capture beauty. Having conducted campaigns for the likes of Dior, L’Oreal, and Maybelline, he has also photographed a myriad of stars from Sarah Jessica Parker to Beyonce. Although his first gallery show, titled Size Does Matter, debuted last year to high acclaim, Willardt follow this up by compiling his first ever career-spanning book, effectively titled ‘The Beauty Book,’ with an accompanying interactive gallery show and a very special app that will allow for an interactive artistic experience for every patron of the gallery. Milk Made chatted with the photographer about this large-scale project and some of the highlights of his esteemed career.
What incited this project?
I first initiated this project, because there was a surprising amount of interest in publishing a large body of work. I never felt the urgency to do a book, until I teamed up with the amazing organization, Rescuers without Borders. It’s been an honor, to do a book, where I can raise awareness for a great cause.
What inspired you to make both the book and its accompanying gallery show into interactive experiences? What can the audience expect?
I’ve always been driven to push the boundaries of what we understand contemporary photography to be. Combining images with sound and movement comes naturally to me, and I hope I’ve established a platform that challenges the print and digital world, that we all obliviously conduct ourselves in.
Is it difficult to revisit your photographs and modify them into video animations?
Turning still photography into video and animation was such an obvious next step to me, where I could continue telling my story. Every time I’ve taken a picture, I want to remember the intense moment for many reasons. By turning this moment into video or animation, it adds an extra layer of dimension to the images, and I’m able to make everyone remember and feel this intense moment. It’s a dream of mine come true, that I can communicate my work on different platforms.
Tell us a little bit Rescuers Without Borders (SSF)…what made you decide to work with them?
Rescuers Without Borders is an organization that has delivered medical assistance and medicine in distressed areas of the world, for the past 10 years. Across nationality, religion, social class and gender, they have been providing safety and hope, for the people who have nothing. Being able to team up with such an outstanding NGO is a privilege and an honor. That’s why I’ve chosen to donate 100% of my royalties.
You have photographed so many different subjects in various fields. What’s the trick to capturing each person’s unique individuality?
I have a great team of assistants and a glam team follow me on this journey. Having that support enables me to relax and have everything fall into place so that I can be relaxed to go with the energy of that individual’s uniqueness.
Who have been some of your favorite people to photograph and why?
There have been many people that I have enjoyed photographing but I have yet to meet my favorite, and I hope I don’t for a long time because that will leave me nothing to look forward to.
What’s your earliest memory of being interested in photography?
When I was 8 years old I remember wanting to capture a wonderful moment I was having with my father and that is the first time I remember wanting to pick up a camera.
‘The Beauty Book’ gallery show will be on display from November 8th through December 7th at 558 Gallery in New York