Style & Beauty

Helmut Newton's Polaroids

Helmut Newton is responsible for some of the most iconic fashion photographs of all time, such as Sie Kommen, a photograph of four naked supermodels that appeared in Vogue Paris in 1981. Less well known than his famous black and white images that appeared in Vogue and Playboy is his extensive collection of personal Polaroids. Matthias Harder, the chief curator at the Helmut Newton Foundation in Berlin, recalls how important these instant pictures were to his artistic process: "Newton used the technology intensively starting in the 1970s, especially for his fashion photo shoots. As he once described in an interview, this satisfied his impatient urge to want to know immediately how a certain situation would look as a photograph. In this context, the Polaroid acted as an idea sketch in addition to testing the actual lighting situation and image composition." While many of these fleeting images have been lost, his wife June admits to using some as place cards at dinner parties, a collection of the remaining images has been put together into a large collection by Taschen. This collection, which includes over three hundred of Newton's Polaroids, shows a previously unseen side of Newton's thought process (some Polaroids even have notes written on them).

The revival of his Polaroid photographs raises a greater question about the role of nostalgia in contemporary photography: what is it about the Polaroid photograph that is so appealing today? In recent years collections of Andy Warhol and Julian Schnabel's personal momentos have been published.

Helmut Newton: Polaroids comes out August 1 and is already on sale via Additionally, the photos are currently on exhibit in Berlin. Check out our gallery below for a sneak peek at the collection: