Ellen Von Unwerth: Not The Girl Next Door

Ellen Von Unwerth has the skill with her photography to capture the carnal beauty of some of the most beautiful women on earth.  

Ellen has been a premiere photographer for many years.  A former model before stepping behind the lens, she has a rare gift in being able to elicit sensuality from her subjects like no other.  

Ellen’s work has been consistently featured in VOGUE, INTERVIEW, VANITY FAIR, and I-D among many others and has been hired to create many advertising campaigns for CHANEL, GUESS, KATHERINE HAMNETT and ZAC POSEN.

Audrey Tautou photographed à la sex kitten by Ellen Von Unwerth.

Ellen von Unwerth was born in Frankfurt, Germany in 1954.   She is a photographer and director, specializing in erotic femininity.  Ellen von Unwerth found fame when she first photographed Claudia Schiffer for Guess? Jeans in the early 1990s.

I remember this and many other gorgeous images of Claudia in my ELLE and VOGUE magazines.  Claudia was a goddess, reminiscent of Bridget Bardot.   

She won first prize at the International Festival of Fashion Photography in 1991 and has directed short films for designers and music videos.  Ellen photographed Dido’s Life for Rent album cover, Britney Spear’s Blackout, Christina Aguilera’s Back to Basics and Keeps Gettin’ Better, as well as Janet Jackson’s The Velvet Rope and more recently photographed Rihanna for the cover of her album Rated R.

Demi Moore by Ellen Von Unwerth.
Drew Barrymore photographed by Ellen Von Unwerth.
Emma Watson in a shoot for Vs magazine by Ellen Von Unwerth.
Sultry Eva Green
Kylie Minogue shot by Ellen Von Unwerth for Tous.
Ellen has directed many commercials and web films for top brands like Revlon, Clinique, Equinox and more, many featuring celebrities. 
Vanessa Paradis

While Ellen’s subjects often feature in the nude or lingerie, the women are never objectified and are moreover expressing an aspect of their own femininity.  

“I love beautiful women. I love to show their personality, their sexuality. There’s a fashion side to my erotic pictures: I love beautiful shoes and jewellery. But the erotic work I do is too daring and provocative for a fashion magazine. It’s more fun, and if you have the right girl who likes it, more exciting, too. It’s fashion photography, but with fewer clothes.” – Ellen Von Unwerth

“I love a picture that surprises you: you try to get everything perfect, then somehow it ends up looking wrong. That’s why I love this one. (see image below) It was taken with a Polaroid, one of those beautiful things that no longer exist. The light has caused the blurriness, giving the shot extra emotion. There’s something eerie about it, too: the girl’s expression is both vulnerable and strong.” – Ellen Von Unwerth in The Guardian newspaper.

Ellen lists Lartigue and Helmut Newton as influences, which is not surprising because I too see a clear Helmut Newton influence.  But I think the thing about Ellen is that she is all woman and engages with her subjects like only a woman can.

Feminine, sexy, a hint of the voyeur in us all and a little bit dirty… and oh so talented!


Sources: All images were found on Google Images search.  All photographs are by Ellen Von Unwerth. Quotes from The Guardian.

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