Since our last "100" issue, Ellen von Unwerth has opened a studio in New York, and her fashion work, showcased in Vogue, has matured. Her well-received 1995 collection of fashion photos, Snaps, will soon be joined by a second book, which should give her fans a surprise: Titled Couples, it will feature new pictures of people and animals.
Von Unwerth brings an energetic femininity to fashion photography--call it girl power. The models in her pictures seem to have real identities, and the photos often convey a sexuality without reducing the subjects to sex objects. Von Unwerth can relate to models because she used to be one. "People couldn't believe it when I took my first pictures because they think models are stupid," she says. "When I'm shooting, even if what I see is not so great, I keep taking pictures to make the model feel good and to give her self-esteem. I like the women to be strong, even if they're looking raunchy or are in a bordello; they always know what they're doing."
The key is letting the models move. "When I was a model, most photographers liked to keep me in one position and I found that frustrating," explains von Unwerth. "So I give the people I shoot as much freedom as possible to be spontaneous." Hence, a favorite moment from a recent Vogue shoot in Mexico. "Naomi Campbell pricked her leg on a cactus, so she lifted her long dress really high in order to scratch it," von Unwerth says. "I snapped the picture and I think it's a very real moment, but I'm absolutely sure that vogue won't use that shot because her dress is wrinkled."--M.K.
From May/June 1998 American Photo.
"In just a few short years, this Bavarian-born ex-model has captured the attention of the fashion world. Ubiquitous, bold, and imaginative, her work features the faces and bodies of today's top models and celebrities, and gives her famous male counterparts, such as Helmut Newton and Peter Lindbergh, a run for their money. What makes a von Unwerth photo? Sex, fun, sex, daring, sex, theater, and yes, more sex." - Te Neues, publisher of Spezial Fotografie Portfolio #28)
Kenneth Bager: Fragment One
MoviesNokko: I Will Catch You
BooksSnaps: Ellen von Unwerth
by Lynda Stretton
It's been eight years since Ellen, born in Germany, stopped posing for the camera and started taking picures herself. Since then her sexy, spontaneous approach has won the acclaim of models and photograpers everywhere. She has been compared with Helmut Newton. Many of her fans attended the launch of her new book - "Snaps" - a collection of her favourite pictures.
Ellen Von Unwerth: "I enjoy photographing people. I try to make them feel comfortable and relaxed. It works - most of the time."
Eva Herzigova Model: "Her pictures are sexy with a little sense of humour. It's not vulgar, it's always funny. It's always nice. She was a model before, so she knows what it's like to be in front of the camera."
Karen Mulder Model: "She has a lot of fun. You have a good time and she takes pictures while you're having fun. Actually, she makes it very easy."
Anna Wintour Editor-in-Chief, Vogue: "She has a much looser approach than the more standard photographers. And I think her wit and looseness is part of her charm."
Ellen Von Unwerth: "It's good to shock. It's not good to always be careful. It's good to disturb a little."
Ellen Von Unwerth has also shaken the sensibilities with her fashion videos and her short, sexy, farce "Inferno".
Helen Christensen: "She brings out the side of a woman that only other women see. It's a funny side. All her photographs are beautiful."
About me:PLEASE NOTE: THIS IS A FAN / TRIBUTE PAGE, NOT THE OFFICIAL PAGE OF ELLEN VON UNWERTH!!!
"(Women) are not just there to be admired, they are there to be enjoyed."--Ellen von Unwerth
The 100 Most Important People in Photography
From the moment Ellen von Unwerth picked up a camera in the mid-1980s, she has held the fashion world captive with a style that is at once elegant, evocative, and erotic. A former model, she began by snapping photos of her model friends, but soon after, von Unwerth emerged as a rising fashion star, shooting for Vogue and, by 1989, the edgy campaigns for Guess that made Claudia Schiffer a household name--an ad campaign that von Unwerth continues photographing to this day. Her riotous and seductive images have filled four books (one forthcoming) and appeared inside and on the covers of almost two decades' worth of fashion and celebrity magazines, including Harper's Bazaar, Interview, I-D and V. The German-born mother of one will no doubt go down in fashion history as a pioneering female photographer, but it is her almost preternatural sense of what is sexy that separates her from all the rest. -- R.K.
From May/June 2005 American Photo.
Who I'd like to meet:Ellen von Unwerth's work offers a distinctly sexual and playful version of fashion and beauty photography. In addition to her career as fashion photographer, film-maker, and video director, her work has been collected in numerous books and two photo-novellas. Von Unwerth's first book, Snaps, was published in 1994 followed by Wicked (1998), and Couples (1999). Her photo-novella Revenge was published in 2003 accompanied by exhibitions in New York, Paris, Amsterdam, and Hamburg. Her photographs have been widely exhibited internationally including in Archaeology of Elegence (2001-2), and Fashioning Fiction exhibited at MoMA/Queens in 2004.
After a decade as a fashion model, von Unwerth brought a first-hand knowledge of the kinetic energy of fashion photo shoots to the creation of her own photographs. Her sensual campaigns for Guess? in the early 1990s launched von Unwerth's commercial career, and subsequently she has created campaigns for Baccardi, Victoria's Secret, Banana Republic, Tommy Hilfiger, H&M, Diesel, Chanel, Miu Miu, Blumarine as well as a series of publicity advertisements for HBO's Sex and the City. Von Unwerth has also ventured into directing short films for Azzedine Alaïa and Katherine Hamnett, music videos for artists such as Duran Duran and commercials for Baccardi and Clinique.
- Status: Single
- Zodiac Sign: Leo