Explore Helmut Newton’s erotic polaroid photography series

For an artist who likes to catch a crystallised gaze from afar and calls himself a “professional voyeur”, the immediacy and personal approach to polaroids seem like a surprising move for Helmut Newton. However, this notable contrast was something that inspired him as opposed to messing with his modus operandi. As he said himself: “That was exactly what was exciting – the spontaneity, the speed.”

This approach to a new thrill is palpable in his little polaroid prints. While it might seem like a divergence, it comes across as much more of a passion project than a side project. The master relishing in his craft gives the images a sense of intimacy and breaks down the impersonal boundaries associated with voyeurism even further than his usual subversion. 

They also provide a retro feel that proves very fitting of Newton. In 1920, Helmut Newton was born in the Schöneberg region of Berlin. When David Bowie rocked up to the same spot 50 years later, it was the heady decadent days of Newton’s upbringing that he was fantasising about. With polaroid practices proving a very popular in the early era of magazine photography, the collection almost seems like a master returning to his beginnings. 

Just as the Taschen description states: “Polaroids occupy a special place in the hearts of many photo enthusiasts who remember a time when “instant photography” meant one-of-a-kind prints that developed within minutes of clicking the shutter. What was once a crucial tool for photographers to test their shots before shooting on film has now become obsolete in the face of digital photography.”

The stunning collection in question is the luscious publication Helmut Newton: Polaroids. Sharing the eroticism that he has exhibited throughout his career, these snaps delve beyond the lens. “There must be a certain look of availability in the women I photograph,” he once said. “I think the woman who gives the appearance of being available is sexually much more exciting than a woman who’s completely distant. This sense of availability I find erotic.” Although this quote in itself might not be nettlesome on the surface, it is, nevertheless, indicative of the era he operated in. 

All the images below are from the beautiful new Taschen collection Helmut Newton: Polaroids. 

You can find out more and grab a copy of your own by clicking here. 

The erotic photography of Helmut Newton’s Polaroid collection:

(Credit: Helmut Newton)
(Credit: Helmut Newton)
(Credit: Helmut Newton)
(Credit: Helmut Newton)
(Credit: Taschen / Helmut Newton)
(Credit: Taschen)

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Anita Shire

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