Ellen von Unwerth

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.
Information credit thanks to here.

Photo credit thanks to here and here.


Adrienne said...

I love the playful quality of her photos! It's also really nice of you to provide information on Ellen von Unwerth. I liked the bit where she said she keeps shooting a model even if she's performing badly because it makes them feel better and thus they improve.
I wish I could see that picture of Naomi Campbell scratching her leg! Sometimes accidental images are the most beautiful. Have you seen the photo of Lily Cole by Tim Walker where she let her dress drop - and just like that, it was the perfect picture?

Adrienne said...

Oh, and just wondering - where did you get your layout? I'm getting a bit tired of mine!

Kiyo said...

Beautiful photographs and I loved reading the information! I agree, she does bring "an energetic femininity to fashion photography"-all the models look playful and carefree.

oh and I nominated your blog for the Best Blog Award, the badge and information is on my blog!