Ellen von Unwerth

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Ellen von Unwerth
Ellen Von Unwerth, 2019
Born1954 (age 69–70)
  • Photographer
AwardsEditorial, Advertising and Fashion Photography award – Royal Photographic Society

Ellen von Unwerth (born 1954)[1] is a German photographer. She began her career as a fashion model, before becoming a fashion, editorial, and advertising photographer.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Von Unwerth was born in Frankfurt, West Germany.[1] As an orphan, during her early childhood, she often ended up in Bavarian foster care systems.[3] Eventually, von Unwerth was able to graduate high school in Munich, where she would work as a circus magician's assistant for three years.[2]


At the age of twenty while walking down the street, von Unwerth was asked by a photographer if she ever thought about having a modeling career. She decided to give modeling a chance and moved to Paris where she had a successful modeling career for 7 years.[2]


Von Unwerth in Paris, 2003

However, von Unwerth felt that as a model, she did not have the freedom to decide where and how her image would be used. Her boyfriend at the time gave her a camera, leading to an impromptu photo shoot in Kenya by her of her model colleagues. When the photos were published, von Unwerth decided that this was the new path she would take in life, as the demand for her photography skills outgrew her demand as a model.[1][4]

Von Unwerth's first notable work was when she first photographed Claudia Schiffer in 1989.[2][5] Her work has been published in Vogue,[6] Vanity Fair, Interview,[7] The Face, Arena, Twill, L'Uomo Vogue, I-D,[8] and Playboy,[9] and she has published several books of photography.

Von Unwerth did promotional photography for Duran Duran from 1994 to 1997 and did some photography for their 1990 album Liberty and 1997 album Medazzaland[10]. Her work has been used on other album covers including Bananarama's Pop Life (1991), Belinda Carlisle's A Woman and a Man (1996), Cathy Dennis' Am I the Kinda Girl? (1996), Janet Jackson's The Velvet Rope (1997), All Saints' Saints & Sinners (2000), Dido's Life for Rent (2003), Britney Spears' Blackout (2007), Christina Aguilera's Back To Basics (2006) and Keeps Gettin' Better: A Decade of Hits and Rihanna's Rated R and Talk That Talk.[11] She also shot the cover of Hole's album Live Through This (1994).[12]

She shows women in enticing ways without objectifying them. In an interview with V Magazine, she said: "I never force women to do anything, but I give them roles to play so they are always active and empowered.[13] In a 2018 interview with Harper's Bazaar, she explained her feminist approach to photography: "The women in my pictures are always strong, even if they are also sexy. My women always look self-assured. I try to make them look as beautiful as they can because every woman wants to feel beautiful, sexy and powerful. That's what I try to do."[7]


Von Unwerth has directed short films for fashion designers,[14] and music videos for several pop musicians. She has directed commercials and web films for Revlon, Clinique, L'Oreal and Equinox.


  • Unwerth, Ellen Von (1994). Snaps. ISBN 0-944092-29-2.
  • Unwerth, Ellen von (1999). Wicked. ISBN 3-88814-899-5.
  • Unwerth, Ellen Von (1998). Couples. ISBN 3-8238-0367-0.
  • Miller, Harland (2003). Revenge. ISBN 1-931885-14-1.
  • Unwerth, Ellen Von; Mennour, Galerie Kamel (2005). Omahyra & Boyd. ISBN 2-914171-20-X.
  • Plumes et Dentelles. 2005. ISBN 2-84114-772-X.
  • Sischy, Ingrid (2009). Fräulein. ISBN 978-3-8365-1477-4. (collectors). Unwerth, Ellen von (2011). Fräulein. ISBN 978-3-8365-2808-5. (trade).
  • Unwerth, Ellen Von (2012). The Story Of Olga. ISBN 978-3-8365-3980-7.
  • Unwerth, Ellen Von; Schulz, Mark (2017). Heimat. ISBN 978-3-8365-2887-0.


Music videos[edit]


  • 1991: First prize, International Festival of Fashion Photography[15]
  • 2020: Editorial, Advertising and Fashion Photography award, Royal Photographic Society, Bristol, UK[16]


  1. ^ a b c "Ellen von Unwerth: 'Let's photograph girls enjoying life'". The Guardian. 2 April 2017. Retrieved 11 January 2023.
  2. ^ a b c d "Ellen von Unwerth celebrated in London photo retrospective". Deutsche Welle. 5 April 2018. Retrieved 11 January 2023.
  3. ^ "How I Started…17 – Ellen Von Unwerth". The Ground Magazine. Retrieved 1 April 2018.
  4. ^ "Ellen Von Unwerth: What You Need to Know | Highsnobiety". Highsnobiety. 20 October 2018. Retrieved 21 October 2018.
  5. ^ Wetherbe, Jamie (24 October 2011). "Ellen von Unwerth's 'Photographs' mixes high fashion, sensuality". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 4 March 2017.
  6. ^ Newbold, Alice. "Ellen Von Unwerth: "My Girls Are Proud Of Their Womanhood"". Vogue. Retrieved 21 October 2018.
  7. ^ a b "Ellen Von Unwerth talks selfies, sexual harassment and her ultimate muse". Harper's BAZAAR. 5 May 2018. Retrieved 21 October 2018.
  8. ^ "ellen von unwerth is making bavaria sexy again". I-d. 6 March 2017. Retrieved 21 October 2018.
  9. ^ Addady, Michal (3 December 2015). "This Iconic Playmate Will Be on the Cover of Playboy's Last Nude Issue". Fortune. Retrieved 26 April 2019.
  10. ^ "18 Great Duran Duran Videos - Metro Weekly". www.metroweekly.com. 17 March 2016. Retrieved 21 October 2018.
  11. ^ "The 100 Sexiest Ellen von Unwerth Photo Shoots". Complex. Retrieved 21 October 2018.
  12. ^ "The Model On The Cover Of The Hole Album "Live Through This"". FeelNumb.com. 6 April 2011. Retrieved 21 October 2018.
  13. ^ "Behind Ellen Von Unwerth's Newest Photo Exhibit". V Magazine. Retrieved 21 October 2018.
  14. ^ "Ellen Von Unwerth Pictures: The Fashion And Celebrity Photographer's Greatest Shoots". Marie Claire. 6 August 2015. Retrieved 21 October 2018.
  15. ^ "Ellen von Unwerth". Artnet. Retrieved 10 November 2022.
  16. ^ "Editorial, Advertising and Fashion Photography". Royal Photographic Society. Retrieved 11 January 2023.

External links[edit]