Helmut Newton: And Behind Every Great Man

© Estate of Helmut Newton

By Vibeke Knudsen

Rue Aubriot is one of the most enduring photographs I have had the privilege of being a part of.

It was the last shot in a series of photographs for the collections for French Vogue. Working with Helmut Newton was always “charged," as he was a god among fashion photographers.

The shoot took place at night. That was the only time that the collections were available for photography. We had breezed through the other shots and it was about 2 am when we pulled up in front of Helmut’s studio to do this last shot in the street.

As I came out of the (small) mini van, where we changed outfits, and stood under a single streetlight, it very quickly became clear that the energy had shifted and heightened.

It wasn’t just that the photographer was Helmut, the editor for the shoot was Francine Cressant, the hairdresser was Alexandre (lui meme), the makeup artist Jacques Clement, and that the suit being shot was a perfect example of YSL - at his best. It was, indeed, a collaboration of masters of their trade… and then there was a moment of magic thrown in. It seemed that we were all aware that something special was attached to the moment.

Helmut insisted on shooting with the streetlight only, which meant I had to stand completely still for two seconds - that’s a long time in stilettoes on cobblestones!

At this point, the atmosphere was that of total focus. No one but Helmut spoke.

While he was shooting, Helmut asked us all to come back the following night. He was already planning his next shot. He wanted me to use the same pose with a nude model (Aya) standing next to me. I was asked to wear the same suit. Aya was not completely nude in this shot; she wore high heels and a hat with a veil. Helmut included both shots in his book, White Women.

Since then, the two photographs have often appeared side by side. They have remained relevant, modern and perfectly classic.

There have been many attempts to replicate this photo, many ”inspirations” to ”duplicate” this photo. I have been part of a few indirect homages and even when they were beautiful, they have always fallen short.

Such is the special vision, focus and quality of Helmut Newton. All hail to the king!

And as for ”behind every great man, stands a great woman.” Never was this more true than in the collaboration of Helmut and June. June Newton, aka Alice Springs, was Helmut’s muse, inspiration and partner. June is a wonderful photographer in her own right and Helmut was her greatest fan. The woman behind Helmut was a part of his greatness.

I feel very fortunate to have worked as much as I did with Helmut Newton and very proud to be the model in Rue Aubriot. Thank you Helmut, thank you June.

Vibeke Knudsen was born in Denmark and has worked as a model in Europe and America for 40 years. In the 70's she often worked with Helmet Newton and considers herself fortunate to have collaborated with many of her profession's most gifted photographers. She now spends her time traveling. See this image and over 100 others at the Annenberg Space for Photography in Helmut Newton: White Women • Sleepless Nights • Big Nudes.

Bringing Attention To Important Topics Through The Use Of Humor

by Pierre Beteille I am proud to say that the Annenberg Space for Photography's "Digital Darkroom" is my very first photography exhibition. I was excited to be given the opportunity to go to the show's public opening and witness, for the first time, people react (if they reacted at all!) to my images in a public setting. I take my photographs in my apartment in France!!

by Pierre Beteille I am proud to say that the Annenberg Space for Photography's "Digital Darkroom" is my very first photography exhibition. I was excited to be given the opportunity to go to the show's public opening and witness, for the first time, people react (if they reacted at all!) to my images in a public setting. I take my photographs in my apartment in France. I mostly shoot self-portraits and work alone, without an assistant. As a result, I have no direct feedback on my work. Of course, I get comments and messages from people on the Internet, but they inevitably come only from those who are receptive to my work. Coming to Los Angeles for "Digital Darkroom" was really my first opportunity to see people's instinctive reactions - either good or bad - in person. While it may seem rather childish and narcissistic satisfaction, to see people smile and react with such pleasure to my photos brought me an incredible sense of fulfillment. My work sometimes deals with serious issues that are important to me but I try to juxtapose the more solemn subjects with humor. For example, my latest photos focus on the speculation on the cereal markets and the nuclear disaster at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster in Japan. Glamorous themes, aren't they? My goal is to make people think about these important topics without boring them or putting them off, and the only way I can accomplish this is through the use of humor or satire. Humor can sometimes be very specific to different cultures, and I was not sure that it would be perceived in the same way from one continent to another. This is why one of my fears was to see people remain indifferent to my pictures. On the day of the "Digital Darkroom" public opening, a young girl in a wheelchair visiting the Photography Space came to me and with a great big smile said to me, about my photographs, "Thank you; you made me laugh." Even if I am a big boy, I must confess that I was very moved and that it almost brought tears to my eyes. This single sentence is the most beautiful reward and the best encouragement that I could receive for my work. Thank you all for your smiles! Pierre Beteille is a self-taught talent in Paris who has an unbridled humor and wit. He takes pride in never having read a book, watched a tutorial or taken a class on photo manipulation. His digital creations are highly original, each image functioning as both a punchline and an act of rebellion. See his work in "Digital Darkroom" which runs from December 17, 2011 - May 28, 2012.

Copyright © 2014. The Annenberg Space for Photography. All rights reserved.
Privacy & Accessibility Statement
Sitemap