Helmut Newton

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Helmut Newton was born Helmut Neustädter in Berlin in October 1920.

He attended the Heinrich-von-Treitschke-Realgymnasium and the American School in Berlin.

He developed an interest for photography at the young age of 11 years old when he purchased his first camera.

In 1936 he began working with the German Photographer Elsie Neulander Simon.

Because of the Nuremberg laws, Newton’s father lost his job and was briefly interned in a concentration camp in 1938. When he returned the family agreed to leave Germany. Newton’s parents fled to South America. The photographer left the country in December of that year boarding the “Conto Rosso” in Trieste on a journey to China. Once arrived in Singapore, he decided to stay there. He worked as a photographer for the Straits Times Magazine and then as a portrait photographer. However, Newton was interned by the British Authorities whilst in Singapore and was sent to Australia where he arrived in 1940.

He was released in 1942 and briefly worked as a fruit picker in Victoria. In April of that year, he enrolled with the Australian Army and worked as a truck driver. In 1945 he gained the Australian citizenship and changed his name to Newton.

In 1946 he set up his own studio and began working on fashion and theatrical projects.

He shared his first joint exhibition ‘New Visions in Photography’ in May 1953 with Wolfgang Sievers, a German refugee like himself who had also served in the same company.

He married the actress June Brown in 1948 who performed under the stage name June Brunell. She too became a photographer, deciding of her pseudonym Alice Springs after pointing a pin on a map.

In the 1950s, Newton enhanced his popularity as a fashion photographer when he got his first assignment with the Australian edition of Vogue Magazine. Soon after, he won a 12 month contract with the British edition. At the same time Newton went into partnership with Henry Talbot and their association remained when Newton left Australia for London in 1957.

Once his contract finished, he moved to Paris to work with the French and German editions. Finally he returned to Melbourne in 1959 to a contract with the Australian Vogue.

In the end, Newton finally settled in Paris in 1961 where he worked for Vogue, Harpers Bazaar and Playboy for which he shot Nastassia Kinski and Kristine DeBell .

Newton’s long time assistants were Mark Arbeit, Just Loomis, and George Holz.

A heart attack in 1970 slowed Newton’s output, but his notoriety continued to increase, most notably with his 1980 “Big Nudes” series.

In his old days, Newton lived in both Monte Carlo and Los Angeles. He died in a car accident in January 2004 in Southern California.

Helmut Newton Biography

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Written by Marine Lazarus

Marine Lazarus, an Anglo-French photographer who moved to UK 3 years ago to study journalism at Brunel University in London. Marine is responsible for our Photographers Biographies section.

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