P.R. Brown – Naked With Rammstein

What do you do when the band you are photographing strips naked and wants you to do the same? That was the dilemma P.R. Brown faced when he shot Rammstein for the very first time. – Me being the conservative American I am, I was like, ‘Oh shit!’ says the 51-year old, and laughs heartily.

By KidArctica

Rammstein was officially founded in 1994. Over the years, countless people have taken photos of them. Yet the list of photographers who have done full-fledged photoshoots for the German band is surprisingly short. Only a few select publications have done their own photo sessions with Rammstein for their interviews. While some group shots exist from tours or travels, most of the band photos stem from the band’s own photoshoots to promote new releases.

Most of the photographers that have worked with Rammstein come from Europe. Though when the band released their sixth studio album, Liebe ist für alle da, they turned to the then Los Angeles based P.R. Brown, not once, but twice – first for a promo shoot in Berlin, then for one in New York City.

– I said ‘absolutely’. I had been a big fan at that point, says Brown.


P.R. Brown, or Paul Roy Brown as his full name is (‘There are thousands of Paul Browns in the world, so I needed something else’) first came across Rammstein in 1996. As creative director of October Films in New York, 24-year-old Brown worked on the movie poster for David Lynch’s Lost Highway. The movie soundtrack featured two Rammstein songs: Heirate mich and Rammstein.

– I heard the tracks on there, and I laughed hysterically and said: Who the fuck are these guys? This is the funniest thing I ever heard! That was the first time I ever heard of those guys, Brown recalls.

Brown first discovered Rammstein while working on the movie poster for Lost Highway

Despite his young age, Minnesota born Brown was already at that point quite the veteran within design. Because of his intense hatred of high school, one of his teachers suggested a program where high school students could get high school credits and college credits at the same time. Brown applied, got approved, and skipped high school to start studying at Minneapolis College of Art and Design. His high school diploma arrived in the mail when he was a senior in college, and things were going fast for him – perhaps a little too fast.

– I was going to graduate with my 4-year degree when I was 17, and I freaked out a little bit and moved England to go study at Brighton University, Brown says.

After six months of studies, he went to work as an intern for Pentagram Design in London. He finally moved back to the US to finish his degree, before moving once more, this time to Los Angeles. In LA he started working for Frankfurt Balkind with some of his former colleagues from Pentagram, making movie posters for movies like Mrs. Doubtfire and Forrest Gump.

It didn’t take that long until he got recruited by Capitol Records who wanted him as an art director. From there, he was headhunted by October Films, which in turn became his introduction to Rammstein through the Lost Highway soundtrack.

– It stuck with me. I loved them from that moment on. Every time they would release something new, I would see it. I was doing a lot of music videos at the time, and people would say, ‘Oh my God, you have to see this video that this crazy German band did, ’cause it’s insane. They literally made Snow White, but it’s twisted! You gotta see it!’ he says.

– I kept up with them from that, because the visuals were just off the charts. I fell in love with Rammstein visually first, and then music second for me, because very few artists were bold enough to go where they have gone in their career. Everything from robbing a bank to each of them as dwarves – you don’t get bands that go to that level of dramatic range. I fell in love with them because of that.


From Brown’s first introduction to Rammstein’s music, it took several years before he did his first work for them. By that time, he had founded his own company Bau-Da Design Lab, where he designed album packages for everything from Hanson to Manson.

Through another band’s manager, Rammstein manager Emanuel Fialik reached out in 2005 and asked if Bau-Da was interested in doing some singles covers. Brown was happy to accept, and the result was one of his favourite works for them to date; the flaccid fire hydrant for the Benzin single.

– It was fun, I knew there would be no limits. That cover is hilarious, says Brown, who believes Rammstein is the only band that would accept such a single cover. He also designed the more traditional covers for Rosenrot and Mann gegen Mann.

One of Brown’s favourite works for Rammstein

When he first founded Bau-Da, Brown was first and foremost a designer. Through that, he got to work closely with a few photographers he really liked, and watching them do their thing, he figured that he would probably be able to do it himself. In 1995, he decided to test that out, bought his first medium format camera, and started taking pictures to use for the covers he made. Two years later, he got into shooting bands. Before the ‘music industry as we know it died’, he managed to do five or six hundred photo shoots – and then, to keep up with the times, he started doing music videos instead.

– I did a couple for Prince, which were awesome. My Chemical Romance, Sing, was a good one. Did a bunch of Slipknot, for All Hope Is Gone, did all the videos for that album, says Brown.

He even earned himself a Grammy nomination in 2008 for the music video for Alicia Keys and Jack White’s James Bond Theme for Quantum of Solace; Another Way to Die. Weezer’s video for Pork and Beans won, but Brown was not disappointed at all.

– It was awesome. I brought my dad to the Grammys; he had a blast. They give you this silver medallion when you get nominated for a Grammy. I gave mine to my father-in-law, and he has it in a shrine in his house. I just liked making fun shit, so the awards don’t really mean anything to me.


The year before that though, Brown got in touch with a certain Richard Z. Kruspe who lived in New York City. Kruspe wanted to make some music videos for his new side project Emigrate, and Brown did two music videos for him: New York City and My World.

The New York City shoot turned out to be quite an experience. In the video, Kruspe enters a building, sits down in a chair shaped like the Emigrate logo, and is surrounded by a hologram that shows himself and a woman really getting it on.

– We shot in an apartment building in New York, in the basement. It was disgustingly filthy and smelled like mildew, Brown recalls.

Kruspe was not fazed by the place’s facilities, or lack thereof. He had cast a woman who was willing to do anything, and on set, it seemed like he wanted to test exactly that.

– It got a little hot. She didn’t seem bothered. Nor did he. But that was the only time I had people almost walking off the set. It was a hell of a shoot, and hilarious to me.

– It got a little hot, said Brown about the New York City music video shoot


Perhaps it was P.R. Brown’s work with Emigrate that made Rammstein ask if he was interested in coming to Berlin for a promo shoot for their new album Liebe ist für alle da. Brown flew to Berlin, met all the band members, and prepped everything for the shoot which took place at Chemiewerk Rüdersdorf. Now abandoned and dilapidated, the site was originally a cement factory which was turned into a chemical factory during World War II.

– There was asbestos everywhere, and I mean, the place was a nightmare – but it was awesome. It was just so many different buildings that were just completely falling apart, and like a silo, it was visually a gorgeous place to shoot, says Brown.

Taking advantage of the spectacular surroundings, Brown shot the band with the ruins as a backdrop, on top of destroyed roofs, inside the buildings that were covered with graffiti, and even lying on the floor looking up at them from the bottom of the tall silo building.

Rammstein at Chemiewerk Rüdersdorf, by P.R. Brown

Photographing a band of six can be challenging, though Brown points out that Rammstein were nothing but professional. They showed up, had fun, but took the shoot very seriously.

– There are many times with bands when I have to take multiple shots and combine them back. Maybe it’s a head from this shot, or somebody’s body from this one – just because, inevitably, someone is going to be looking off or doing something stupid. With these guys, there were so many usable shots that I didn’t have to do that, which is nice. That’s not normally the case with a group this size, says Brown.

The main challenge was to make sure that they were presented like a band, and not have anyone take precedence over someone else in the photos.

– It was fun to approach it that way, because with most bands, the label will say you gotta pull so and so forward, because that’s what the fans wanna see. Whereas these guys are like no, this is us, we’re a group. So that was the goal, how do we highlight each member somehow some way in a shot, and still keep the uniformity between the band for each setup, he says.

– I wish that there was a scientific approach for it, but it’s literally setting up the shot and putting them in and saying you stand here, stand here, taking a look at it, and be like, nah, that doesn’t work, let’s swap you guys around, let’s try some different things. And it’s just kind of mixing and matching on the spot to see what works. There’s no real hardcore science behind it other than that your gut says, ‘oh well, that’s right!’


In addition to band photos, Brown did solo shots of each band member.

– Each one has a different personality. Richard was a lot of fun. He was pretty particular, he has some favourite sides and colours that he wanted to show, and he is very vocal. If there is something he doesn’t want to do, he will absolutely tell you. I also think Richard is, out of all of them, the most comfortable speaking English, says Brown.

As he does not speak German himself, he did feel that there was a disconnect at times when the band members were searching for the right words to tell him what they were thinking. Though he commended them all on their English as there was no way he would have been able to communicate with them in German, and they all managed to get their thoughts across.

– Paul was definitely full of ideas, he was like a kid in a candy store when we were in that factory, he literally dragged me through the hallways and was like: ‘Oh! Let’s go into this room, oh look, here’s the elevator, oh, let’s go in here!’ I was following him around and shooting all his solos. Paul scared me, but also inspired me!

Schneider was excited to try anything Brown wanted to try. His best shot was taken on top of the roof of a ruined building. Asbestos and broken tiles were everywhere, and the drummer held a broom in his hands as if attempting to clean up the mess.

– Oliver is very into visuals and all things photography. He was definitely more reserved, but the chattiest, and he was genuinely down to try anything. There was this puddle, my personal assistant was throwing a giant boulder into a godawful toxic pool sitting there in front of Oliver, and he’s just stoic looking. I loved that shot. It’s my favourite from the shoot.

Stoic Oliver by a toxic pool, by P.R. Brown


For Till Lindemann, Brown tried to grab solos of him wherever he could, throughout the day.

– Till was always serious in shots, and in general. Our communication was limited. I talked to him the least, but that was probably a bit because of me, too, I was intimidated by him, Brown admits, but is quick to add that Lindemann was very kind.

Flake didn’t talk that much either, but the keyboardist was friendly and in a great mood. His photos were taken by the Langerhanskanal, which runs by the Chemiewerk. That’s where Brown had his most memorable moment of the shoot.

– It was really hot, and at lunch the guys said they wanted to go swimming, and said, ‘Paul, come swimming’. I was like, ‘Cool!’ So I go down there, and all of them just stripped down naked, jumped in the water, and were like, ‘come on!’ he laughs.

After the initial ‘oh shit’ and a brief moment of hesitation as he had both a stylist and a make-up artist with him, Brown decided to just go for it and got naked with Rammstein.

– It was me skinny-dipping with Rammstein in a canal next to a factory in Berlin. And it was at that point I went like, I like these guys! It was great, a very freeing moment. And honestly, it was the only time I’ve ever skinny-dipped on a shoot in my entire career. I think that’s probably the only time in my life, really. But it was a lot of fun!

Flake by the Langerhanskanal where Rammstein and P.R. Brown swam naked, by P.R. Brown


The Berlin shoot included one day in studio for promo stills. That’s when Brown took the photos that would end up as the cover of the Pussy single, which shows the band as naked women.

– I think it was us talking about it, and I think they were joking at one point and said, ‘it would be funny if we were women’. And I was like, I can do that! says Brown.

From there on, things happened fast. In two days, models were casted to come in for the body shoot. None of the band members had any particular preferences as to how they wanted their female body to look, apart from Till.

– He really wanted to be pregnant, and we couldn’t find a pregnant model. But our clothing stylist was pregnant at the time, and she graciously agreed to do it. She was awesome, Brown recalls.

The models were shot first, so that Brown knew what he should try to match the band members with. He then explained to them how they had to move.

– You don’t have to direct those guys at all. They have it built in naturally, their characters and personalities just come out. There are some bands that I absolutely have to pose and direct, not these guys. It’s all inherent to what their personalities are. And so, I think they just had fun with it – what would their reaction be if they were a woman? That was what they did for the cover.

Rammstein as women, by P.R. Brown


While in Berlin, the Rammstein members made sure Brown had more interesting experiences in addition to bathing naked in a canal. The first one was thanks to Christoph Schneider, the only band member he has spent time with outside of the shoots.

– This was maybe a night or two before we shot. He said, ‘What are you doing tonight?’ and I said, ‘Nothing, I’m here to shoot’. And he said, ‘Well, come with me, we’re gonna go do something’, Brown remembers.

The two of them met up and got on the U-Bahn, where Brown got a huge surprise.

– Maybe the coolest fashion show I’ve ever seen in my entire life took place on the subway. And that’s what he was bringing me to, to see this fashion show that was happening between stops on the subway. It was amazing. It is to this day the reason that I will have a soft spot for Berlin my entire life, because it’s maybe one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen. That was just so random, and not something you could see anywhere else. Schneider brought me to it.

Another experience was initiated by Paul Landers. During the shooting, he told Brown that he had to go and visit ‘a really cool spot called Beelitz’ – the place where the band later recorded their music video for Mein Herz brennt. It used to be a Russian military hospital, and Paul confessed that he had been looting the place while he was younger.

– Paul told me he got a bunch of medical equipment out of there and put it in his apartment. He had medical lights and tables, and things he pulled out of there from when he was younger. Paul was like, ‘you have to go there and shoot, because it’s amazing’, Brown says.

Beelitz, where Rammstein shot Mein Herz brennt

As this was the pre-Google days, Brown gathered as much information as he could, and headed off to Beelitz all by himself.

– I get there and find all these buildings, and they are amazing, crazy Russian super scary architecture. But there is no way in, and everything is boarded up. I couldn’t get in anywhere until I find a hole, down in the basement. I shoved my camera bag through it, and it dropped down several feet, and I was like, ‘Well, I’m going in now!»

Pushing himself through the tiny hole, Brown used his phone as a flashlight, retrieved his camera bag, and found his way up into the building to shoot.

– It was at that moment that it occurred to me that I never told anyone that I was going, and if there is a maniac somewhere in the building, I’m a dead man, no one’s gonna know, Paul just disappeared! But I got some really good shots in there, and Paul [Landers] did tell me to check it out, so they would have found my body eventually, Brown laughs.


After the big promo shoot in Berlin, P.R. Brown continued working with Rammstein throughout the Liebe ist für alle da era. Bau-Da did the design for the singles Pussy, Ich tu dir weh, and Haifisch. And when Rammstein decided to return to the US and sold out Madison Square Garden in twenty minutes, they contacted Brown and asked if he wanted to do another shoot – in New York City.

– It was an extensive two-day shoot. I had to have a full team on that. I told the location scout the kind of things I was looking for, I said I want a barber shop, I need a diner, I need some cool alleys in Tribeca, you know, maybe the Meat Packing District, and so I was throwing out things to find. And then the location scout came back with all the offerings, and I had to pull permits on every location, Brown remembers.

At the barber in NYC, by P.R. Brown

He ended up with seven different locations: A diner, Tribeca street, Meat Packing District, High Line, Empire Hotel, Tommy Guns Barber, and Dumbo – ‘Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass’.

– I think those were the ones I was excited about. There was just a vibe and a look, you know, from the cobblestone streets in Tribeca with the bridge overhead, to the High Line, says Brown.

After the locations were set, the next challenge was logistics. Moving equipment and a band across the city was not easy, and Brown had to figure out how to logistically make it work. The first day of shooting took 12-14 hours, and the last location was in Dumbo, under the Brooklyn Bridge.

– The mafia was not amused that we were shooting the guys in front of the trash recycling place, Brown recalls.

As the entourage headed towards a planned shot by a Christmas tree in an arch, they walked by a garbage recycling facility. Rammstein instantly fell in love with it.

– They were like, ‘what’s this? Let’s do some shots here!’ And I’m like, ‘cool!’ so I just started shooting them. Meanwhile, they were wearing police uniforms, and the mafia was not too pleased that the cops were taking pictures in front of their operations in Dumbo. So they came out and said: ‘You can’t shoot here! You can’t shoot here!’ says Brown.

However, when the mafia guys heard that the ‘police officers’ for some strange reason had German accents, they decided to let the photoshoot continue.

– They were like, ‘hrmf, okay, don’t know what this is, but knock yourselves out.’ The Rammstein guys are so cool, they’re so gracious and amazing and treat everybody with respect, so it was all a non-issue. There was just complete confusion on everyone’s part on what was happening.

Rammstein in police uniforms was used for their Christmas greeting, by P.R. Brown


While Paul Landers’s wife Arielle Troß did the make-up for the band’s New York City shoot, Brown brought in Marjan Malakpour as a stylist.

– Marjan is amazing. She has resources like there is no tomorrow to find the most random cool shit that exists on the planet, and bring it into the shoot, says Brown.

He gave her an idea of what kind of vibe he wanted for the different locations, and Aladpour came up with everything from winter coats, to suits, to police uniforms, and also more spectacular outfits such as colourful cloaks.

– We did the fitting at Madison Square Garden, backstage, before the show. They loved the clothes. It was like dress-up for them, they were having a blast! says Brown.

Rammstein in NYC, by P.R. Brown

Unfortunately, photos from some of the locations never got published anywhere. Pictures from the diner, the Meat Packing District, and the High Line are still hidden in Rammstein’s vast photo archive. Something that did make it to the public though, was Brown’s studio photos of Rammstein on horses, edited onto a New York City rooftop with the Empire State Building in the background.

– I don’t think in a million years I would have said hey, I’ve got an idea! Let’s get you guys on horses, in New York City! So it’s gotta have come from them. Trying to get horses in a studio in New York is not an easy task. I called a horse trainer and had him come in from a hundred miles away on a horse trailer.

Brown rented a street level studio that was willing to let him bring in the animals, and the trailer pulled up right into the studio to let the two horses out.

– I’d shoot two guys at a time. We had the two horses right next to each other, and I’d put the guys on and shoot them. And then I would have to swap out guys and then shoot the next two, so I did three different set-ups with two guys each. The first minute or two, there was terror on their faces, then they became comfortable. They had a blast, it was a lot of fun, Brown recalls.

What was not so much fun, was cleaning up after the horses.

– The horses shit everywhere. Wherever they were standing, they were shitting. It was not a good day to be one of my personal assistants. And I had to pay a hefty fee for the clean-up, says Brown.

After editing out literal horseshit from the photos, he put the band members together in the final picture – on a rooftop.

– It was probably me saying, ‘wouldn’t it be funny if these horses were up on a rooftop, overlooking the city?’ Maybe I just wanted to see the Empire State Building behind them. That was the coolest at the time, says Brown, who remembers that the band laughed when they saw the result.

– And they used it! It was just so absurd, the most random Rammstein picture ever!

“The most random Rammstein picture ever”, according to P.R. Brown


Experimenting with different techniques has become one of P.R. Brown’s trademarks. For the Rammstein shoots, he played with tilt shift to blur parts of the photos, especially some of the portraits. The penchant for experimentation started after doing Antichrist Superstar for Marilyn Manson.

– After I did Manson, I got labelled as the dark bastard child of the music industry when it came to creative design. I’m so not that guy, I’m just not a dark human being, but I love playing with that aesthetic and shooting in that world. So I just said, ‘what is super creepy?’ and started experimenting with shooting through glass, and tilt-shift lenses, anything I could do to distort an image to see what would happen, Brown says.

– I didn’t view photography as this precious technical thing. To me, it was another creative tool to express imagery in a fun way, and I would just find everything that would let me play in that world, and I still do to this day.

Handheld split diopter from Prism Lens FX

One of his go-to tools is the 150mm Handheld Split Diopter from Prism Lens FX, a glass tool that creates a blurry refraction effect on the photos.

– If you ever see a behind the scenes shot of me, it would look hilarious, because it’s me literally holding it in front of the camera while I’m shooting. I’m sure I look very bizarre to the audience, like, what the hell is that guy doing?


Some Rammstein fans may have been able to see the diopter in action. Last summer, Brown was invited to shoot Rammstein again, live, for three of their 2022 North American Stadium Tour shows.

To get a sense of what he would be shooting, he went to Rammstein’s concert in Turin and watched the show from the audience. Then he packed his Fujifilm GFX 100, multiple lenses, his diopter, and headed to Chicago, East Rutherford, and Foxborough and had a blast – luckily not literally.

– Olli saved me a couple of times on stage. I didn’t know the setup that well, I had a very thorough briefing, but I forgot, Brown admits.

Jens Koch also came to his rescue several times, and Brown has only good things to say about Koch’s work on tour.

– That guy works non-stop. He was impressive to watch, and he’s a cool guy. Rammstein has great tour photographers.

Paul on stage in Boston, by P.R. Brown


After the three shows on the east coast, Brown experienced something unheard of for him – he was disappointed that it was all over.

– Normally, I’ll do a show and I’ll be like, oh, thank God it’s over, I don’t have to go do that again. But literally, I was like, damn, I really wish I was shooting more shows, because it was so much fun. With a band like this, it goes well beyond your typical show. They are so theatrical in what they do that it is way more fascinating than your typical live show where it’s some kind of headbanging on the stage. There is a lot more character and personality that happens during their live shows.

Brown was particularly impressed by how the band seemed to legitimately have fun on stage.

– If they’re not having fun, they’re the best actors on the planet, because it looks like they’re having a blast on stage. And I’ve been with so many bands, especially with this long of a history, that hate each other. It’s rare to find a band that’s been together this long and still talk to each other and genuinely enjoy each other’s company. Most are like bad marriages that have fallen apart.

Explosive Schneider in New Jersey, by P.R. Brown

The photographer also had what he describes as ‘an amazing moment’ with Christoph Schneider in Chicago. Brown and his assistant rode to the venue together with the drummer, and the driver brought them to the wrong side of the stadium. Pulling into an area where dump trucks were blocking the way so that cars couldn’t pass, no one would let their car through.

– We keep going to the next cop, the next security, and say, ‘look, obviously we have someone from the band here, we’re trying to get into the venue’. Nah. None of them were having it, and we get to some guy, and he point blank says: ‘Which band is he playing for?’ And Schneider lost it, Brown laughs.

– Schneider had a meltdown and went: ‘What do you mean what band I’m playing for? There’s only one band! IT’S ONE BAND!!!’ And the funny thing is, they finally moved one of the dump trucks, we drove through, and we made it around to the other side of the stadium. It was amazing. You know, he’s such a nice guy, when I say lost it, it’s not over the top anger, but enough to notice and be like, ‘Oh shit! The guy really pissed him off!’


While P.R. Brown has a long career behind him in the music industry, he is currently doing corporate commercial work most of the time.

– About ten years ago, after my daughter was born, I decided I’d better be a responsible human being and pay my mortgage. I’ve been working with Pepsi for, God, over a decade now. And it’s just easy work for me, that I enjoy, it’s a good team to work with, but it’s not really fulfilling on the creative side, so I still go back and do music whenever I can, he says.

According to his website, his specialty is visual storytelling that embraces and helps brands and bands express themselves in their true light, not his – a philosophy he has brought with him to his work with Rammstein. Knowing their aesthetic and culture, he tries to find what he can add to it with his work.

Till in New Jersey, by P.R. Brown

While Brown used to shoot live shows in his youth, he hadn’t done it for the past decade when Rammstein called him up and asked if he wanted to shoot their live show. Without hesitation, he accepted.

– I only did it because it’s them. I love the band, the music, and the show. Out of the hundreds and hundreds of bands I have shot, I think they are the only band that ever entirely bought out my photoshoots. It’s awesome that they did it, not just for the financial game, but just that they take such pride in what they do, and they want to have control over that, which is great. And then come back and hit me up a decade later and say hey, you want to shoot a live show? There are very few bands that have that kind of loyalty to the creatives they work with, and that’s amazing, says Brown.

He was happy and grateful to be asked, and he was also surprised that several band members recognised him even though they hadn’t seen each other for a decade.

– Flake was like: ‘Paul?’ And Paul knew. And Richard, obviously. For the other guys, when I said who I was, it took them a second, and then it clicked. It was cool.

– Maybe if you had taken off your clothes?

– I should have just been there naked, and maybe they would have gone ‘oh, it’s that guy’.

Director and Photographer

Connection to Rammstein:
– Designed multiple single covers
– Did two major photoshoots for the band
– Directed two Emigrate music videos
– Photographed three of the 2022 NA shows

#SEEKBEAUTY: P.R. Brown often uses this hashtag on social media. – I am annoyed by negative shit, so I am using social media to promote something more positive than what it’s often used for.

KidArctica is a RammWiki editor who has been part of the website for years, working in the background with edits and content. Fun fact: Lost Highway was also how KidArctica first encountered Rammstein.

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