Ellen von Unwerth

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Von Unwerth, Paris, 2003

Ellen von Unwerth (born 17 January 1954) is a German photographer and director, specializing in erotic femininity.

She worked as a fashion model for ten years before becoming a photographer, and now makes fashion, editorial, and advertising photographs.

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."[1]

Personal life[edit]

Von Unwerth was born 17 January 1954 in Frankfurt, Germany. Her early childhood was less than ideal, often ending with her in Bavarian foster care systems.[2] Eventually, von Unwerth was able to graduate high school in Munich, where she would work as a circus magician's assistant for three years.[3] 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. von Unwerth decided to give modeling a chance and moved to Paris where she had a successful modeling career for ten years.[4] However, von Unwerth felt that as a model, she did not have the freedom to decide where her or how image would be used. Her boyfriend at the time gave her a camera, leading to an impromptu photo shoot in Africa 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.[5]


Von Unwerth's first notable work was when she first photographed Claudia Schiffer in 1989.[6] Her work has been published in Vogue,[7] Vanity Fair, Interview,[8] The Face, Arena, Twill, L'Uomo Vogue and I-D,[9] and she has published several books of photography.[10]

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[11]. 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.[12] She also shot the cover of Hole's album Live Through This.[13]

Von Unwerth has directed short films for fashion designers,[14] and music videos for several pop musicians.[15] She has directed commercials and web films for Revlon, Clinique, L'Oreal[16] and Equinox.

She shows women in enticing[disambiguation needed] 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.[17]


  • Snaps. 1994. ISBN 0-944092-29-2.
  • Wicked. 1999. ISBN 3-88814-899-5.
  • Couples. 1998. ISBN 3-8238-0367-0.
  • Revenge. 2003. ISBN 1-931885-14-1.
  • Omahyra & Boyd. 2005. ISBN 2-914171-20-X.
  • Plumes et Dentelles. 2005. ISBN 2-84114-772-X.
  • Fräulein. 2009. ISBN 978-3-8365-1477-4. (collectors). Fräulein. 2011. ISBN 978-3-8365-2808-5. (trade).
  • The Story Of Olga. 2012. ISBN 3-8365-3980-2.


Music videos[edit]


  1. ^ "Ellen Von Unwerth talks selfies, sexual harassment and her ultimate muse". Harper's Bazaar. 2018-05-05. Retrieved 2018-10-21.
  2. ^ "How I Started…17 – Ellen Von Unwerth". The GROUND Magazine. Retrieved 2018-04-01.
  3. ^ "Ellen Von Unwerth Facts & Biography | famous-photographers.com". famous-photographers.com. Retrieved 2018-04-01.
  4. ^ "Ellen Von Unwerth | Photography and Biography". www.famousphotographers.net. Retrieved 2018-04-01.
  5. ^ "Ellen Von Unwerth: What You Need to Know | Highsnobiety". Highsnobiety. 2018-10-20. Retrieved 2018-10-21.
  6. ^ Wetherbe, Jamie (24 October 2011). "Ellen von Unwerth's 'Photographs' mixes high fashion, sensuality". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 4 March 2017.
  7. ^ Newbold, Alice. "Ellen Von Unwerth: "My Girls Are Proud Of Their Womanhood"". Retrieved 2018-10-21.
  8. ^ "Ellen Von Unwerth talks selfies, sexual harassment and her ultimate muse". Harper's BAZAAR. 2018-05-05. Retrieved 2018-10-21.
  9. ^ "ellen von unwerth is making bavaria sexy again". I-d. 2017-03-06. Retrieved 2018-10-21.
  10. ^ TASCHEN. "Ellen von Unwerth. Fräulein - TASCHEN Books". www.taschen.com. Retrieved 2018-10-21.
  11. ^ "18 Great Duran Duran Videos - Metro Weekly". www.metroweekly.com. Retrieved 2018-10-21.
  12. ^ "The 100 Sexiest Ellen von Unwerth Photo Shoots". Complex. Retrieved 2018-10-21.
  13. ^ "The Model On The Cover Of The Hole Album "Live Through This"". FeelNumb.com. 2011-04-06. Retrieved 2018-10-21.
  14. ^ "Ellen Von Unwerth Pictures: The Fashion And Celebrity Photographer's Greatest Shoots". Marie Claire. 2015-08-06. Retrieved 2018-10-21.
  15. ^ vogueitalia (2013-04-16), Fashion Story: Lana Del Rey by Ellen Von Unwerth, retrieved 2018-10-21
  16. ^ L'Oréal #BeautyForAll (2015-03-09), The Glamorous Girl by Ellen Von Unwerth, retrieved 2018-10-21
  17. ^ "Behind Ellen Von Unwerth's Newest Photo Exhibit". V Magazine. Retrieved 2018-10-21.

External links[edit]