Looking back on Helmut Newton’s oeuvre, you’ll likely find yourself trapped in the photographer’s glamorous universe. He often said he was “a gun for hire” at the service of fashion or product houses, but rarely only sold a product. Provocative in his time, Newton created an entire lifestyle around strong women, and meticulously transformed the mundane into the extraordinary. Foam Amsterdam has dedicated an entire exhibition to his body of work, currently presenting a large retrospective.
Simultaneously, three young photographers at the intersection of fashion, portraiture and glamour photography show next to Newton in PS. Glamcult caught up with all three artists to discuss their work and relation to the acclaimed photographer. Striving for idiosyncrasy and an almost extraterrestrial world, Carlijn Jacobs brought to life the surrealist Vivian Atlantis—to be shown next to Newton.
While Helmut Newton showcased women in an almost perfect way, you often estrange them and focus on imperfection. In what way do you feel connected to Newton?
Even though Newton has a different way and vision of portraying women, I think there are also a lot of comparable aspects. His surreal and sometimes disturbing work, for example. Newton preferred to make photographs outside the studio because “a woman does not spend her life sitting or standing in front of a seamless white paper background.” That’s something I prefer too; environments and creations that will make you think twice. I love to create little worlds and something you have never seen before. For me it wasn’t hard to relate to Newton at all, he is still one of the best. I actually don’t totally agree that he liked to showcase women perfectly. He loved to give them power but didn’t portray them perfectly all the time; they have an edge.
Your career has thrived in the past few years, what advice would you give to young photographers?
Get to know yourself better, work hard, experiment and most of all: do what you love, stay true to yourself (how cliché). And, very important, believe in the future and yourself.
You went overseas to find ‘Atlantis’ for this exhibition. How far will you go or what does it take to get the perfect shot?
I think I’m one of the worst of all; people have to stop me because I’m that crazy photographer who will jump off a cliff for a good shot. Do you know the story about that photographer that became really rich but lost all his money because he spent too much on crazy props like golden horses in the air? That would be me, I guess. I have to say: this series for Foam was also one I will never forget. We didn’t know that the road dipped into a ravine…