Geof Kern (Brooklyn New York, 23 September 1950) began his formal career as a photographer in 1977 after graduating from Brooks Institute of Technology in Santa Barbara California, and moving to Dallas to accept a studio position. Several months later he opened his own studio, at first photographing fashion for local stores and a weekly style section of the newspaper The Dallas Morning News, which subsequently led to assignments for national magazines such as GQ, Esquire, Beach Culture, Spy, and Rolling Stone.
Kern's approach to photography was unusual in the commercial world at the time. He experimented with collage, camera and darkroom manipulations, and created sets that looked like cinema scenes. As his work became more noticed so did requests for interviews for photography and graphic arts magazines. Invariably asked if he could describe his style he, at loss, could only say he "photographed ideas."
By the 1990's he was working with international clients and often participated in campaigns that were engaging photographers with new and inspiring approaches. Photography was now generally accepted as art and fashionable in the commercial realm.
Among Kern's most accredited work are collaborations with Yukio Kobayashi, fashion director and chief designer of Mons. Nicole, the men’s division of Matsuda Tokyo, for whom Kern photographed three fashion collection books between 1992 and 1993. Other artists who worked with Kobayashi and Mons. Nicole from the late 80’s to the mid 90’s include Bruce Weber, Juergen Teller, Stéphan Sednaoui, Nadir, and Nan Goldin. These artist books, created in the age before the wide use of the internet, are virtually unknown today and prized as collector's items.
A long time relationship between Kern and the luxury department store Neiman-Marcus began in 1994 with Creative Director Georgia Christensen, who helped create the series called The Art of Fashion, a multiple page advertising insert of the Spring and Fall designer collection published in Harper’s Bazaar. Between 30 and 40 pages in length and a show piece, the store chose a photographer 'with a distinct vision' to interpret each season’s collection. The first series was photographed by Richard Avedon, followed by Helmut Newton and Annie Leibovitz. Kern photographed the 4th series, published in Harper’s in the Fall of 1995. As each artist is free to photograph the series as he or she wishes, Kern chose England to photograph a story about fame in which a girl dreams to “become a famous model one day” and does, only to watch public admiration turn into scorn. Later Kern learned that Neimans was quite worried about reaction to the dark undertones of the story until Time Magazine proclaimed it the Best Advertising Campaign of 1995.
Twenty two years later Kern was invited to photograph the 44th The Art of Fashion for Spring 2017. Photographed with cars and planes at LAX Airport and the Los Angeles Harbor, it was, for Kern, who named it "Blue Skies," another veiled essay on environmentalism, a subject he has often touched upon in fashion projects where he is free to concept the images.
Kern’s relationship with Neiman-Marcus also resulted, in 2007, his design and photography of a limited edition Pop Up Book to commemorate the store’s 100th anniversary. Comprising of seven animated spreads and scores of images to make working parts, the book depicts the story and traditions of the store. It is the only pop up book in history made with original photography to fit a book's preplanned animation design. Since many parts, including the live model, are seen from two sides on assembly pieces in the book, Kern devised special techniques to photograph objects and people from directly opposite sides simultaneously. The model Kern used for every spread in the book was the beautiful and rising star Ruslana Korshunova who tragically ended her life less than a year after the book's publication.
Among many professional honors Kern is a recipient of the peer-nominated Infinity Award in Applied Photography from The International Center Of Photography (ICP) in New York, as well as novel awards such as a Grammy for Album Art. His work is included in the permanent collections of the Musée Des Arts Décoratifs, Paris, the London Design Museum, and The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. In 2019 his work for Neiman-Marcus and the French fashion designer Thierry Mugler was included in a retrospective of Mugler’s career at the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal.