Few fashion photographers have risen to the heightened state that Helmut Newton had reached. His iconic black and white fashion spreads on notable fashion magazines like Vogue and Elle are still a classic textbook example how art can be twisted, turned and manipulated into fashion photography.
Born Helmut Neustädter on October 31, 1920 into a well-to-do Berlin family, Helmut showed interest in photography when he bought his first camera when he was 12 years old. The young Helmut left Berlin with his family due to the imposition of Anti-Semitic Laws that threatened their way of life in the country. He changed his last name to Newton in 1946 and met the would-be powerhouse photographer, actress June Browne. She would be later known famously as Alice Springs. They married in 1948.
The young Helmut Newton always knew that his significant attraction to women would draw him closer to what he really wanted. Newton’s concepts of fashion and photography put controversial but widely acclaimed photographs in Vogue as well as in other publications. His control of his set, the models he worked with and the ideas are made a signature style for him.
Newton was famous for his eccentric and to say the least, daring nude concepts in his photo shoots. Shooting primarily with black and white film, his images portray power, sexuality and have a certain darkness to them. His elegantly posed models and detailed sets frequented the pages and spreads of Vogue and made a name for him in the world of photography. Earning the nickname “King of Kink,” Newton stuck to his forte and amazed the fashion industry as well as the world with avant-garde photographs and imagery that only he can deliver.
Keeping close to his belief that his pictures portray reality, Newton embraced his style of heightened states of dress or undress in his pictures that sold products and ideas to the consumers. Newton was freely open to his genre as well as his critics picking at his work and noted that not one bit of his work is far from reality. Newton’s gritty and expressive images show just how he interprets fashion and photography as they intertwine.
The famous fashion photographer died in 2004 at the age of 84. His provocative work and style of photography paved the way for other avant-garde concepts and imagery for the world to wonder upon.