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. Amongst them is Elizaveta Porodina, who started out as a clinical psychologist, but traded that buzzing career for dissecting and creating aesthetics with heavy hitters such as Vuitton and VOGUE.
Compared to the other PS photographers, your work most recognizably resembles the photography of Helmut Newton in terms of subjects and aesthetics. Does he inspire your work?
Helmut Newton inspires my work mainly by how he constantly challenged himself as a person and as an artist, creating his own twisted strange beautiful world with less limits, boundaries and stereotypes. His playful and always innovative perspective on the strong, heroic woman who doesn’t need to seduce men in order to feel self confident and beautiful speaks to me and challenges me to re-think my concepts whenever I tend to get too ‘comfortable’.
What is the most important thing you want your work to express?
I would say that most of my favourite images express the constant connection of reality, as we know it, and a more secret, darker dimension of the world that is usually less perceived in our everyday lives. This thought can be strange and discomforting, but I have always felt that these hidden connections between moments and people are what empowers and inspires me the most. There is more than meets the eye—around us, in other people and in ourselves. Every time I manage to capture this feeling, I know I have created something I can be proud of.
What would be different in your pictures of strong women, having a female gaze, compared to Helmut Newton’s photography coming from a male perspective? Do you think there’s a difference, and is it important?
Personally, I would never speak of a female or male gaze—just about the personal views of individuals. I definitely would say there is a difference between artists considering their perspectives, but how we perceive and express things is a question of personality, temper, upbringing, people that inspired you and your own decisions. I would never say that Newton’s perspective is a typically male one, neither would I say that mine is typically female. What I find fascinating about strong women is a large diversity of different stories that can be told about and with them as protagonists. A strong woman is someone who does not depend on someone’s decisions or strength, she leads the audience into her world where her looks, actions and feelings are not stereotypes on how a woman should look, act and feel—but her own, very unique expression.