A native of New York, 36-year-old photographer Jonathan Leder has contributed to publications that include Nylon, Baby Baby Baby and Metal. He first got into photography by shooting for his school newspaper, and then later went on to work as an assistant for Steven Klein. Through the years Leder has created a distinct style that has gained him numerous fans and much recognition. To see even more of his portfolio, visit Jonathan Leder.com.
Fashion Gone Rogue: Have you gone to school to study photography?
Jonathan Leder: I studied painting in university. I went to Parsons in Paris and then a couple schools in Italy studying classical painting. I didnt move back to New York until I was 25. At which point I found an internship at Interview magazine, and then another Internship working for Steven Klein. This was my first real experience seeing any type of “fashion photographer” . My first day at Steven Klein’s studio i remember he was shoot Guinevere Van Seenus for French Vogue.
Fashion Gone Rogue: What are your goals from the beginning of a shoot to the end?
Jonathan Leder: Ahh, so many. I really enjoy putting a lot of effort into my shoots. Especially in terms of planning and casting. As you can see I shoot mainly on location, so there is also the element of finding a suitable, affordable, location. I also really love to find American feeling places, and places that are a bit timeless. Also, with regards to casting we also take a lot of time. I pretty much wont work with a model unless i have tested her or shot her before. And for the most part we only work with American girls. And of course, we try to stay away from anorexic girls and girls who are too model-y or predictable. Its nice to take chances with the pictures , sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. So we wind up doing pretty much all the production ourselves. Me, my wife Danielle, and some friends.
Fashion Gone Rogue: Do you think being a photographer has granted you any unique experiences?
Jonathan Leder: I guess so! I love making pictures, so it’s great to do what you love.
Fashion Gone Rogue: Which photographers do you admire?
Jonathan Leder: Diane Arbus, Peter Lindbergh, Sarah Moon, Bruce Weber, Gary Winogrand, William Eggleston, Robert Mapplethorpe, Carlo Mollino. . . I prefer the ones with a strong sense of identity.
Fashion Gone Rogue: Do you try to have a constant style?
I am definitely trying for that. I feel i am getting there. I have only been shooting seriously for 2 1/2 years so its a process to find your voice and direction, but i am getting there.
Fashion Gone Rogue: Reviewing your body of work, it is apparent that you do not shy away from using nudity. In your opinion, how does the relationship between nudity and photography work?
Jonathan Leder: We asked a girl the other day how she felt about being naked and she said,” The human body is a beautiful thing. ” I suppose it’s true. I don’t have any problem with nudity. Walk into any museum around the world and you will be surrounded by paintings and sculptures of the human figure. Its powerful and emotional. Why should we ignore it? Or starve it to death?
Fashion Gone Rogue: And your ideas about fashion and nudity?
Jonathan Leder: Not sure about this. “Fashion” to me is a bit of a dirty word. I’m sorry to say. Whenever I hear the word “fashion” i think of anorexic models, and cheesy runway shows where people try to sell overpriced clothing. Its very sad what some designers encourage models to look like. I truly think there are many designers that prefer their ” models” to like pre pubescent boys, rather than beautiful women.
Fashion Gone Rogue: With the downturn of the publication industry, are you concerned with there being less of a demand for editorial work?
Jonathan Leder: Not really. Downturns are good, because it separates those who only do things for money from those who do things they feel passionate about.
Fashion Gone Rogue: Is it a passion for merely photography, or a love for fashion that inspires you to be a photographer?
Jonathan Leder: I like beautiful clothes. I don’t get a chance to shoot them enough. But I think fashion can be amazing . Look at the past, and there have been some amazing fashion photographers and images created.
Fashion Gone Rogue: What can we expect next from Jonathan Leder?
Jonathan Leder: Lots of editorials. Some work for Urban Outfitters. A shoot for a line of sunglasses that will have my photo on them. A cover for a new erotic magazine called JACQUES. etc.