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Book review: Helmut Newton, Polaroids

If you are a lover of fashion, red lips, 80s glamour, lamborghinis, French Vogue, 70s Playboy, supermodels, nudity and general excess, Helmut Newton, Polaroids gives you 224 full colour pages of it.

Helmut Newton, Polaroids
(Taschen, 2011) $110

If you are a lover of fashion, red lips, 80s glamour, Lamborghinis, French Vogue, 70s Playboy, supermodels, nudity and general excess, Helmut Newton, Polaroids gives you 224 full colour pages of it.
In a collection spanning four decades, Taschen presents a selection of test Polaroids chosen by Newton’s widow, June.

The Polaroid camera was an important part of Newton’s process as, according to June, “It told him what he wanted to know and it allowed to correct whatever had to be corrected” before committing the shot to film.

She notes that they were not always necessary as often you can’t tell the difference between the Polaroid and the actual photograph.

While that may be true of the composition and lighting, Polaroid-lovers will recognise the unmistakable altered colours and contrast the medium brings to the images.

Newton’s work is noted (and awarded) for its controversial scenarios, bold lighting and striking compositions. Preferring to shoot in streets and interiors rather than studios, the images show glamorous scenes from the likes of Paris, Milan and Monte Carlo, which are often in contrast to the provocative poses of the models.

His risqué imagery is not for the prudish at heart and if you are at risk of elderly, conservative in-laws dropping in for tea, don’t leave this book on your coffee table. Otherwise, I say, do.