Photographer Ellen Von Unwerth has not veered ever away from her style of capturing multidimensional women through a lens of unbridled sexuality, sensuality and freshness. EVY's women are free spirits today, just as Claudia Schiffer revealed in her landmark 1990 Guess campaign.
EVU's understanding of women is on display as part of her first London retrospective, 'Ladyland', on view at the Opera Gallery.
Having been a model herself, von Unwerth was fed up, not so much with the proverbial male gaze, but with her own lack of creative freedom and self-expression.
“I’ve always loved to portray women who are strong, who are playful, who are self-assured, and who really own their sexuality, which is why I love working with Claudia, and Naomi, and all those girls,” she explains. “But then something I always come back to is fragility. I look for that in the women I shoot, too. I don’t want to objectify women, or cast them only in this ‘sexy’ light. I want to see every side of them. There are so many sides to women. That’s why some of my best shots come when the girls think the camera has stopped rolling, you’re seeing something different to what they give you when they know they're being watched, a vulnerability.”
'Ladyland' is getting plenty of coverage and good reviews. Harper's Bazaar UK asks Ellen von Unwerth the question on my own mind: What is the future of seductive fashion photography in the Me Too and Time's Up era?
EVU: “I think women want to be seductive; I hope they don’t turn into nuns covered up head-to-toe. There needs to be attraction between men and women; you can’t hide from that and it must exist. We just have to be careful and what’s important is the respect. What we have to learn is to respect each other. The great thing is that women are now saying, ‘hey, this happened to me and it can’t happen anymore.’ That’s because they want to be respected, and also feel beautiful and powerful sexually. I’m not going to start taking pictures of women wearing boxy clothes looking sad or harsh. No, women want to be beautiful and I want to show that. The respect thing is very important. We need to start by teaching our children; it has to start very, very early.”
We share our extensive EVU archives, many going back to the days when our images were much smaller and uploaded differently. Still, they represent an important treasure to us, as we have always been strong supporters of female photographers capturing sensual women -- and male photographers who tap into that same impulse that Ellen explains. We have some big favs, but this post is all about Ellen von Unwerth.