Frames from the Edge

Synopsis: A camera crew follows Helmut Newton, the fashion and ad photographer whose images of tall, blond, big-breasted women are part of the iconography of twentieth-century erotic fantasy. He's on the go from L.A., to Paris, to Monte-Carlo, to Berlin, where he was a youth until he escaped from the Nazis in 1936. We see him on shoots, interviewing models, and discussing his work. It's not art and it's not good taste, he tells students. We meet June, his Australian-born wife, whom he married in 1948. Three actresses talk about working with Newton and how posing is different from acting. A heart attack in 1973 helps Newton re-focus, resulting in more personal photographic projects.
95 min

I find that one can immediately

recognize a photo by Newton.

In my opinion,

that's where his genius lies.

Every great photographer's work

is distinguishable

among thousands

of other people's work.

Avedon's or Bourdin's work

is also highly distinct.

But for me, Helmut's work

is the most easily recognizable

when I look

through a stack of pictures.

Unless it is a very good copy,

which is extremely rare,

there are no good imitations

of Helmut's work.

Whatever he does is good,

because he did it.

Whoever tries to copy him

lacks the essence of his work.

A black and white picture

by Newton,

if I may compare it

to something,

has the quality

of a Matisse drawing.

He doesn't try to take

the place of the camera.

When you look

at his pictures,

especially the ones that

aren't staged or portraits,

he takes

the place of someone

who is observing

the scene as it happens.

I find that

to be very rare

in so called

sophisticated photography.

One might think

that there is an ideal

perspective for a face or a body

but his angle is always

slightly different.

He has

the eye of a voyeur

being an excellent observer

at the same time.

I have an older brother,

he is ten years older than I am,

and he always

wanted to be a farmer.

I always wanted to be

a reporter, since I was little,

with lots of different cameras

dangling around my neck,

wearing a Burberry coat

with a turned up collar,

and a big hat with

my Press Pass attached to it.

While other children wanted

to become train conductors,

I wanted to be

this crazy reporter.

I never really

have difficulties

in finding the right location

to shoot.

I'm like the carrier pigeon,

I follow my instinct,

and go where

I feel it's right.

Some people depict me like

a dog following a trail

or trying to find

the right spot to pee.

He keeps going

around in circles,

until suddenly he finds

the right place to pee,

or to photograph,

in my case.

And that's

how I do it.

This is my Berlin notebook.

I have many of them because

I have a very bad memory.

Here, for example,

is what's on the first page.



it's not only Berlin.

Rosemary, no hand.

Telephone number.

This girl, I was told,

was very beautiful,

but had only one hand.


I never saw her.

Here, a hotel in Paris

with a wonderful alcove

and old iron beds,

very pretty.

Too old, though, I 'm not really

into these things anymore.

Then, back to Berlin.

The word schlagsahne,

whipped cream.

A very important word for me,

whipped cream.

Von Stroheim, Von Stroheim,

don't know why he is here.


Hey, what's this?

Oh, and this

is very funny.

It is a list with the names

of whorehouses in Berlin.

Some journalist

gave it to me.

Very important,

very practical.

A little lower.

But watch the expression.

Too much

hair everywhere.


Stay exactly like that.

Black light that we used,

for example,

in the pictures

we made in the past four days,

is very typical for Berlin.

It almost looks like

a picture treated with acid.

The sunlight

doesn't suit Berlin.

When I see the black lakes,

the black forests,

and those

heavy black clouds

that hang over the lakes

in summer, it fascinates me.

The light

is very penetrating.

And there is a lot of it,

it isn't dark,

it is a very

special quality of light.

Swimming pools, like

many other things in my work,

reflect my memories.

My photos, especially

in the past twenty years,

are mostly based on memories.

I photographed many women

who were excellent

swimmers or divers.

It fascinates me, a person,

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    "Frames from the Edge" STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 31 Oct. 2020. <>.

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