Helmut Newton was a fashion photographer whose trend-setting body of work revolutionized the industry. His interest in photography began at a young age, and he dropped out of school to work for renowned German photographer Else Simon. Newton’s dreams were thwarted when his family was forced to flee Germany due to the German anti-Semitic campaign, and he ended himself in Singapore. But, despite his lack of success, he continued to pursue his photographic hobbies. Newton had to serve in the ‘Australian Army’ for five years, so photography took a back seat. But, just as the war ended, Newton found himself a free man, able to pursue his aspirations after years of being moved from place to place. He created his own picture studio and specialized in fashion photography. He created a reputation for himself over the next fifteen years and received his big break when he landed a job with ‘French Vogue,’ where he did his best work and achieved international renown and recognition, as well as notoriety. Bold, sensual, and visually captivating depictions of women typified his style, which was shot aesthetically and with exquisite technical aspects. Newton was a visionary who was ahead of his time, and his work is now more appreciated than it was during his lifetime.
Helmut Newton’s Childhood
Helmut Newton was born in Berlin, Germany, as Helmut Neust dter to Klara and Max Neust dter. His father, a Jew, was a wealthy businessman who owned a button factory. Helmut attended Berlin’s ‘Heinrich-von-Treitschke-Realgymnasium’ and ‘American School,’ where he was expelled for poor grades.
Helmut’s fascination with photography began when he was twelve years old and received his first camera. He worked with famed fashion photographer Else Simon, commonly known as ‘Yva,’ from 1936 forward.
His father had to renounce possession of his factory once the Nuremberg Laws were implemented, and he was even imprisoned in a concentration camp in 1938. Newton’s parents emigrated to South America the same year, and they were able to arrange for Newton to come to China.
The Career of Helmut
The ship paused in Singapore en way to China, where Newton decided to stay and later found work as a photographer for the ‘Straits Times.’ He was fired from his job two weeks later. Josette, a wealthy older woman who paid him generously, was his girlfriend. He also opened his own photography studio, ‘Marquis,’ but it was a flop.
He was labeled an “enemy alien” by British authorities in 1940 and transferred to an Australian internment camp. He was drafted into the ‘Australian Army’ as a truck driver after two years at the camp and served until the end of World War II.
He became an Australian citizen after his discharge from the service and changed his last name from Neust deter to Newton. He opened a picture business in Melbourne in 1946 to specialize in fashion and theatre photography.
In 1953, he collaborated on a show called “New Visions in Photography” with Wolfgang Sievers, another German refugee, and photographer. He formed a long-term partnership with Henry Talbot, a German Jew, the same year.
His images appeared in the Australian issue of ‘British Vogue’ in 1956 after he had established a name as a fashion photographer. Soon after, he landed a one-year deal with ‘British Vogue’ and relocated to London, but he left a month before the end of the contract and relocated to Paris, where he worked for French and German publications.
Despite earning a deal with ‘Australian Vogue,’ he returned to Melbourne briefly before leaving for Paris again in 1961. He obtained a job with the ‘French Vogue’ in Paris, where he produced his best work. His signature style consisted of aesthetically pleasing provocative images of women.
He lived in Paris for several years and gained tremendous recognition and reputation, working for publications such as ‘Harper’s Bazaar,’ Nova,’ Queen,’ Marie-Claire,’ Elle,’ Playboy,’ and many editions of ‘Vogue.’ He has released a number of photographic series, the most well-known of which are ‘White Women,’ ‘Sleepless Nights,’ and ‘Big Nudes.’
Photo Credit: The Guardian
His Major Projects
In 1976, he released the ‘White Women’ series of pictures, which showed naked women in artistic attitudes. The groundbreaking images established a new trend and altered the way women were portrayed, coinciding with a shift in women’s position in Western society.
He received critical recognition for his novel ‘Big Nudes,’ which he released in 1981. The models in these images were photographed in sensual poses outside of the studios, often on the streets, which was unusual. Newton’s reputation as a top fashion photographer was solidified with this series.
Newton received the ‘Kodak Award for Photographic Books’ in Germany.
In 1976, the ‘Art Director’s Club’ in Tokyo presented him with the ‘Best Photography Award.’
He was awarded the ‘American Institute of Graphic Arts Award’ in 1977.
In 1999, ‘Life Magazine’ presented him with the ‘Life Legend Award for Lifetime Achievement in Magazine Photography.’
Personal Life and Legacy
Newton met June Brunell, an Australian model, and actor, in 1947 while working in his Melbourne studio. He started dating her and married her the following year. Jane went on to work as a photographer and aided her husband in a variety of projects.
In 1970, he had a heart attack in New York and was subsequently hospitalized, following which his work rate decreased significantly.
He died in an automobile accident when his vehicle collided with the wall of the ‘Chateau Marmont Hotel,’ where he had stayed for several years.
Estimated Net worth
Helmut is one of the wealthiest photographers and one of the most popular. Helmut Newton’s net worth is estimated to be $15 million, according to Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider.
During his childhood, his father chastised him for his infatuation with women, and he went on to become a well-known fashion photographer.