Helmut Newton snapping one of his signature nudes while his wife June looks on.The late German photographer Helmut Newton was notorious for his love of shooting nudes. Not just nudes, but towering, amazon women with bodies that he would position and prostrate to make them look bigger, bolder, and broader. His models looked tough, but he was tougher on them. They were the subjects of some pretty torturous shoots, whether they were directed to rub raw meat in their eyes, lay inside of a croc's mouth, or strap on some spiky metal leg braces for a stroll, they were asked to do things that were slightly upsetting to feminists and women friendly spectators far and wide for decades. In his signature brazen way, Helmut ignored critics, telling them they didn't understand and simply continued to snap away.
Whatever your view on his style of model torturing, the results of his low-fi shoots were quite astonishing. The shapes, the colors, the hard light, the spiked heels, it is all simply iconic.
Besides for his undeniably good work, Helmut's other saving grace was his wife June. She was his constant companion and sometimes subject. Her softer foil to Helmut's brashness was evidence that the man had a beating heart and a love for someone of the female gender.
A few years before his passing, June picked up a camera of her own to document Helmut at work, and the results are simply stunning. Seeing Helmut craft images is fascinating. His shoots are not the high energy motion filled dance-like sessions I've seen in footage of so many other photogs at work. They are rather stylized, still, set ups. Mostly the models are asked to stand this way, put their foot this way, point the toe a little more, the eyes a little up...and then...hold it! Hold it right there. You can almost see the split second flash of light that captures his perfect image, but no matter, the camera has it all forever, every detail, every minute aspect of Newton's direction. It's all there forever.
There are lots of naked women in this movie, so it's not quite suitable for work, but I highly reccomend you watch it on your own time.
Part 1 of 5 of Helmut by June. Here are links to part 2, 3, 4, and 5.
Helmut has quite a bit to say actually about us Americans and our aversion to sex and nudes. So if he were directing you, I'm sure he would encourage you to watch it at work. Full screen!
All photos by Helmut Newton, found via Google image search.