Interview for Penthouse

This morning, while flipping through some of my old published work, I paused at Penthouse. I’ve got to give a nod to Carl Peter Yeh, the former editor-in-chief of the Dutch edition, for the interview. It’s funny how life works—Penthouse was one of those magazines I used to sneak peeks at as a kid. Ah, the 80s. Before the internet, newsstands were the go-to for anything titillating.

Given the cultural climate, my generation often bought these mags under the cover of embarrassment, far from our parents’ prying eyes. I remember this one caper with a school buddy. We had just picked up a few of those magazines and faced a dilemma. We couldn’t exactly bring them into our Catholic school. So, at the bus terminal, where drivers took their breaks, we saw our chance. We chucked the magazines right onto a driver’s seat through an open window. I bet that made his day a bit more, let’s say, engaging.

Now, years later, here I am interviewed in the same magazine I once had to sneak around to read. I don’t remember my answers and I had to use a translation app to get through the Dutch, but that’s just a minor detail. And for those who might be interested, some of those Penthouse shots are now available as limited edition prints.


Sexy. Sometimes trashy. Always unapproachable. In terms of appearance. But especially in terms of character and demeanor. In Marco Tenaglia’s photography, women are mainly on the move. Their dynamics radiate furiously. And if they are in ‘resting mode,’ then that is, at most, an apparent one, akin to that of a lazing tigress. Her loving gaze never loses that tearing intensity. Tenaglia’s photographs are primarily in black and white. But because of his lighting and stark shades, this Roman fashion and portrait photographer knows how to infuse a special ‘color.’ Look closely at his Strong Women and realize they are dangerous, exciting, intense. And oh, so enticing.


“With my work, I aim to entertain and inspire both others and myself. I love to photograph women, focusing not so much on their beauty as on the strength of their personality. I prefer unapproachable women. Sometimes in lush and decadent situations, other times in very ordinary ones.”


“Helmut Newton, very obvious, of course. Brassai, a Hungarian Frenchman who captured Paris so authentically in the 1930s, was dubbed “the Eye” of the City of Light by Henry Miller. And Elliott Erwitt, an American who brought a completely absurd and ironic twist to everyday reality. I must not leave Horst P. Horst unmentioned either. He achieved iconic status through his fashion photography for Vogue and Coco Chanel, his portraits of Hollywood greats, and those of White House Presidents and First Ladies.”


“Honestly, there’s not even that much nudity in my photography; but it seems like there is. This impression is due to the strong erotic charge that I always strive to infuse into my images. Even if my models are fully dressed, the sensuality of the composition must radiate. I only use nudity functionally, for example, to make a photo even more direct.”


“Impossible question… I truly don’t know. I mean, one day I’ll highlight one image, the next day another. In reality, anyone who looks at the photos can best make that choice for themselves.”


“I don’t believe I have one favorite model; it’s truly an overwhelming task to choose these days when it comes to good models. If you ask me which celebrity I would like to work with, then Rachel McAdams comes to mind immediately. What a woman!”


“Nowadays, anyone can take a picture, but not everyone is a photographer. Photography is more than just the camera and software. It encompasses composition and lighting, poses, and expressions. The best advice I could offer is to start not with a digital camera, but with an ‘old-fashioned’ analog SLR. A film or slide roll holds a maximum of 36 shots, prompting you to shoot very consciously and deliberately. You also won’t see the result immediately on the back of your camera. This practice helps you learn to visualize, allowing you to see in your mind what a photo will look like. For those aspiring to a career in photography, remember that you’re engaging in a business, not a hobby. Make this clear to those who ask you to ‘come and take a quick photo,’ and then think that your work and creativity are worth no more than a bottle of wine.”

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