Helmut Newton is a German-Australian Fashion photographer.
As soon as I hear the name Newton, I visualise his often provocative, erotically charged black-and-white photographs.
It is reputed that Newton first became enamoured with the female nude as a photographic subject as a teenager, while working as an apprentice to theatre photographer Yva in Berlin.
Known for the dramatic lighting and the unconventional poses of his models in his photographs, Newton’s work has been characterised as obsessive and subversive, incorporating themes of sadomasochism, prostitution, violence, and a persistently-overt sexuality into the narratives of his images. He increasingly focused more on these images rather than fashion photography in the 1970s, emphasising the aggressive and incendiary in his works.
Controversial scenarios, bold lighting, and striking compositions came to form his signature look. He was famous for shooting in hotels, pools, and on the streets. He didn’t do many shoots against white backdrops, because he felt that they weren’t as real.
These are a few quotes from Newton that I feel sums him and his work up completely:
“My women are always victorious.”
“My job as a portrait photographer is to seduce, amuse and entertain.”
“…women who give the appearance of being available is sexually much more exciting than a woman who’s completely distant.”
“What I find interesting is working in a society with certain taboos and fashion photography is about that kind of society. To have taboos, then to get around them that is interesting.”
If you are familiar with Newton’s photography, which is your favourite piece of his work? If you aren’t have a look for yourself and see what you think of his controversial imagery.