Helmut Newton (born Helmut Neustädter; 31 October 1920 – 23 January 2004) was a German-Australian photographer. He was a “prolific, widely imitated fashion photographer whose provocative, erotically charged black-and-white photos were a mainstay of Vogue and other publications.”Newton was born in Berlin, the son of Klara “Claire” (née Marquis) and Max Neustädter, a button factory owner.Interested in photography from the age of 12 when he purchased his first camera, he worked for the German photographer Yva (Elsie Neuländer Simon) from 1936.
In 1946, Newton set up a studio in fashionable Flinders Lane in Melbourne and worked on fashion and theatre photography in the affluent postwar years. He shared his first joint exhibition in May 1953 with Wolfgang Sievers, a German refugee like himself who had also served in the same company. The exhibition of ‘New Visions in Photography’ was displayed at the Federal Hotel in Collins Street and was probably the first glimpse of New Objectivity photography in Australia. Newton went into partnership with Henry Talbot, a fellow German Jew who had also been interned at Tatura, and his association with the studio continued even after 1957, when he left Australia for London. The studio was renamed ‘Helmut Newton and Henry Talbot’.
Newton’s growing reputation as a fashion photographer was rewarded when he secured a commission to illustrate fashions in a special Australian supplement for Vogue magazine, published in January 1956. He won a 12-month contract with British Vogue and left for London in February 1957, leaving Talbot to manage the business. Newton left the magazine before the end of his contract and went to Paris, where he worked for French and German magazines. He returned to Melbourne in March 1959 to a contract for Australian Vogue.
Newton settled in Paris in 1961 and continued to work as a fashion photographer. His images appeared in magazines including the French edition of Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. He established a particular style marked by erotic, stylised scenes, often with sado-masochistic and fetishistic subtexts.