“Look, I’m not an intellectual. I just take pictures.” -Helmut Newton
Love him or hate him, it’s hard to argue the influence Helmut Newton has had not only on the image of women but also on the evolution of fashion photography . Through his provocative and sensual images which critics say borderline pornography, a Helmut Newton photo can be easily recognised. His body of work really speaks to me and I feel he is able to share his voyeuristic tendencies with audiences while allowing us to delve into the mind of a chauvinistic male. Perhaps the misogynist in me can relate to him on many levels.
What I really like about his style is that he doesn’t have the need for big studio lighting and excessive gear; he uses whatever is handed to him. In the past I’ve read that he has used bodies such as Hasselblads, Rolleis, Nikons and Polaroids but whatever camera he uses, he has a very consistent Newton style that is his own.
As you can see, his photography has had a considerable influence on my black and white portraiture work. Here’s an example with my 2011 shoot with Maya Murofushi. I used ambient lighting here with the help of some reflectors but did some dodging and burning to achieve that look.
Helmut Newton was born in Germany and later forced out of the country because of the threat of the Nazis. This turned out to be a gift to the world because it eventually gave him the freedom to pursue his now legendary career in photography.
Helmut Newton images depicting women in men’s clothing and depicting them as powerful figures, breaking all the molds built by society, made heads turned. It also led some people to ask for his head to roll. Even with all the controversy, he continued pushing the envelope in photographing women by taking images of nude bodies in provocative positions. It may have been met by scrutiny and rage in the beginning, but it eventually became the industry standard. His unconventional images of femme fatales made Helmut Newton a legend in fashion photography. Not even his death in 2004 would end his undeniable influence in how photography can exude power in women.
Helmut Newton did not just limit his photography to nude women and fashion. He also shared with the whole world his early life as a survivor of the Nazi invasion in Germany. He took portraits of Nazi personalities and other people relevant to the very difficult time in world history. Helmut Newton images clearly show the world through the eyes of a nomad who wandered the earth, not giving a care to people’s judgments and myopic views.
Newton died on January 23, 2004 due to vehicular accident in California. It was reported that he lost control of his car because of sudden heart attack. The 83 years old photographer crashed into the wall beyond the Hotel Chateau Marmont’s driveway in Hollywood.
* His biography above is sourced from http://www.brighthub.com
Contacts video shows some behind the scenes from Helmut Newton: