Polaroids occupy a special place in photography, all the more so since the development of digital techniques. The instant print and absence of editing tools allows these one-of-a kind images a beguiling realness: In no other photographic medium does the moment find its material form with such sincerity and such speed.
Throughout his career, Helmut Newton used polaroids not just for their poetics but as a crucial tool for testing lighting and composition before a shoot began. Many photographers threw these tests away. Luckily for us, Newton kept his, allowing his widow June Newton to assemble this fascinating behind-the-scenes look at some of his greatest shoots, from the classic nudes in Milan to latex-clad shots in St. Tropez.
With images visible folds or handwriting, these snaps from the seventies, eighties, and nineties are akin to the preparatory sketches to masterpiece paintings. Offering fascinating insight into Newton’s creative direction and process, they stand as works of art in their own right, and as a historical testament to a bygone age of fashion photography.