Helmut Newton —Helmut Neustädter—(October 31, 1920 - January 23, 2004) was a German-born Australian photographer who considered one of the most important of the 20th century. He creates his own new style in his photographs, which are full of glamor and seduction, where female nudes and stiletto heels predominate.
Of Jewish origin, he was born in Berlin in 1920. He bought his first camera in 1932 with his savings, at the age of 12: it was an Agfa Tengor Box. The camera came with film. His first photos were in the subway, and all the photos were veiled, except for one. In 1938, just as the persecution of the Jews began, he left Germany for Singapore with two cameras, a Kodak and a Rolleicord. Upon his arrival in Singapore, the Refugee Receiving Commission arranged for him a job as a photographer with one of Singapore's largest daily2, the Straits Times. It is there where his photographic career began. His job was to take photos for the society section; the style of Helmut Newton's photographs was not liked by the newspaper, and he was fired shortly after.
Helmut Newton did not enjoy the support of his father. If he hadn't had to flee to Singapore, his father would have insisted that he work at his button factory.
From Singapore he was deported to Australia. And being German, he spent a period in an internment camp. Later he was enlisted in the Australian Army until the end of World War II. After leaving the army, he changed his last name from Neustädter to Newton.
After the war, he set up his own photography studio in Melbourne and continued that point. It is around this time that he met what would later be his wife, June Browne. Later, to complete his training in the field of fashion, he went to London for two years. Leaving behind his stage in London, he traveled to Paris to work in specialized fashion magazines such as Vogue or Elle. After so much traveling, it is in Paris where he established his habitual residence. There, his career as a fashion photographer began to gain worldwide recognition, becoming one of the most successful. Newton's last years were spent between the cities of New York and Monte Carlo.
Newton's work has its own style that makes his work recognizable wherever you look at it. Photos full of glamour, seduction and elegance have been on the covers of the most prestigious magazines. The photos of beautiful women in luxurious settings are famous, where some of them have become an iconic image of the 20th century.3 Newton was in love with beauty, which he almost obsessively managed to capture like no one else with his camera.
To see part of his works —personal objects such as cameras, bags of material and articles used for photography—, you can visit the Helmut Newton Foundation, Museum für Fotografie, Jebensstrasse, Berlin.
On January 23, 2004, Helmut Newton is killed in a traffic accident in Los Angeles. In addition to his enormous photographic legacy, he has left us his autobiography, which has recently been published in Spanish.
I like to photograph the people I love, the people I admire, the famous, and especially the infamous.