Helmut Newton was was a German-Australian fashion photographer.  His style is widely recognized and often imitated.  His life began with many challenges and turmoil.

He was born Helmut Neustädter to Jewish parents in Berlin.   He became interested in photography at age 12 when he bought his first camera and worked he German photographer Yva (de) (Elsie Neulander Simon). As Germany began to enact more and more restrictions on Jews with Nuremberg laws, his family fled the country.  He intended to travel to China, but arrived in Singapore where he worked briefly for a local newspaper and as a portrait photographer.

The British authorities interned him and sent him on to Australia.  He was briefly imprisoned and then released into Australia where he eventually enlisted with the Australian Army and worked as a truck driver.  When the war ended he became a British citizen and changed his name to Helmut Newton.

He set up a studio in Melbourne where he worked on fashion and theatre photography.  As his reputation grew, so did the opportunities.  He was commissioned to photograph a special Australian supplement for Vogue magazine in 1956.  This led to a a 12-month contract with British Vogue and then to work in Paris shooting for French and German magazines.

Newton’s style was considered highly erotic.  He often created very stylized scenes (sometimes with sado-masochistic and fetishistic subtexts).  he continued to shoot both traditional fashion as well as a number of pictorials for Playboy magazine.

Here is a glimpse at the man and his work.

Note: Helmut Newton’s work contains nudity and intense sexuality.  Do not watch the video if this bothers you.


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Join the conversation! 1 Comment

  1. Hi, there is an extra documentary regarding Helmut Newton’s life and work that is entitled Helmut by June which is, basically, footage recorded by his wife.


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About Richard Harrington

Richard Harrington is the founder of RHED Pixel, a visual communications company based in Washington, D.C. He is the Publisher of Photofocus and Creative Cloud User as well as an author on Rich has authored several books including From Still to Motion, Understanding Photoshop, Professional Web Video, and Creating DSLR Video.


A Photographer You Should Know, Inspiration