Helmut Newton, whose real name was Helmut Neustädter, was born into a good middle-class, Jewish family in Berlin on October 31, 1920. Already as a 12-year-old he received his first camera. In 1936, he did an apprenticeship with the Berlin photographer Yva (Else Simon). From 1938-40 he lived in Singapore, where he earned his living as a contract photographer.
In the year 1940, he emigrated to Australia and became an Australian citizen. For five years he served as a common soldier in the army. At this time he took the name "Helmut Newton".
In 1948 he opened a photo studio in Melbourne and married the actress June Brown, who later became famous as a portrait photographer under the pseudonym "Alice Springs". Helmut Newton traveled through Europe beginning in 1956 and settled down in Paris, where his international career began. Newton started to work for "Vogue" and garnered many contract assignments for leading international fashion magazines such as "Elle", "Marie Claire" or "Jardin des Modes".
From the 1970’s on, Helmut Newton was one of the most in-demand and expensive fashion, advertising, portrait and nude photographers in the entire world. His nude and fashion photographs are characterized by a style that is in equal measure erotic and highly reserved. The pictures often feature tall, androgynous women from high society, whom Newton places into the scene with high-heeled shoes and erotically charged props such as fur, dolls and whips.
Helmut Newton’s first individual exhibit took place in Paris in 1975, and in the following year, his book of photographs "White Woman" appeared. Newton’s "Big Nudes", published in 1980, still serve as icons of photographic history. The image of women that Helmut Newton’s pictures convey is, however, also the subject of controversial discussion.
In addition to his nude and fashion photographs, Newton’s work also includes numerous portraits of prominent personalities such as Helmut Kohl, David Bowie and Catherine Deneuve.
Helmut Newton died in an automobile accident in Los Angeles on January 23, 2004.