Helmut Newton (1920) worked as a fashion photographer in many of the world’s leading magazines including Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar and is noted for his provocative imagery and idiosyncratic style.
His fashion photography incorporates themes and elements from his wider career as a photographer. Often the fashion item is subjugated to his idiosyncratic style where the object incorporated into a broader personal theme. Sometimes the fashion item is the central point by which by which his style is reached.
His work is predominately black and white but does make use of colour. They largely consist of a woman as the subject. His images are highly structured a displaying strong and simplistic
composition. When photographing he exhibits a large degree of control over the model, the backing, props, make-up and lighting owing to the dominance of his vision. His composition is classical in many ways which by contradistinction he emphasizes provocative themes.
A recurring theme in Helmut’s work is the female identity, which he presents as strong, powerful and at times savage. He refers to his models as ‘Amazons’. This marks an inversion of traditional female role. Suggestion of violence though the placement of weapons, fetishist paraphernalia, body posturing and uniforms is another element of his style. He has encountered protest from feminist groups as his publication of his images blurs the distinction between female empowerment and objectification. Some of his work features a stronger woman in a dominant position over another presumably weaker. He purportedly understands his style as ‘reality’, an interpretation of ‘the harshness of reality’ and primarily dealing with the subject of ‘strength’. He professes to a love of strong women.