Articles Tagged with: Ellen von Unwerth
Ellen Von Unwerth |Motion & Blur

There is a technique that Ellen Von Unwerth continually revisits that I’ve never seen any other pro shooter use to such great effect. Utilizing slow shutter speeds, many times she will allow the facial features of her models to be blurred, smeared across the frame, giving a sense of motion and liveliness to her photos.

Understand that this is completely different and separate from an image that is entirely out of focus or blurred due to movement or camera shake which are common techniques. The face is normally considered inviolate and no matter what else is happening, should always be in focus as it is the primary focal point. She turns this maxim on its head by keeping the frame in focus but with shutter speeds slow enough (1/60 of a second or greater) that allow her subject’s face to blur.

This gives her images such vitality, capturing the movement from one fraction of a second to the next, telling the viewer that during this image, things were occurring, the models were in the middle of something, moving onto the next moment. Reminiscent of Francis Bacon, this distortion of the face is many times subtle, sometimes overpowering, and is never at the expense of the mood or expression of the subjects.

I’ve never seen anyone else use this specific technique so effectively again and again. I’ve tried it a few times and my images are just blurred faces with none of the magic Unwerth creates.

I have included the first image for comparison. It is a typical blurred image due to the movement of the subjects within the frame. The following images, however, feature this motion blur constrained to the face.

Wendybird -Kirsten Dunst & Erin Fetherston, Ellen Von Unwerth

Wendybird - Kirsten Dunst & Erin Fetherston, Ellen Von Unwerth

Clash of the Titans - David Bowie 2003, Ellen Von Unwerth

Clash of the Titans - David Bowie 2003, Ellen Von Unwerth

Ein Deinstag-Morgen in Paris with Heike Makatsch, Ellen Von Unwerth

Ein Deinstag-Morgen in Paris with Heike Makatsch, Ellen Von Unwerth

Little Miss Precious with Kemp Muhl 2009 by Ellen Von Unwerth

Little Miss Precious with Kemp Muhl 2009 by Ellen Von Unwerth

Adriana Lima 205 by Ellen Von Unwerth

Adriana Lima 205 by Ellen Von Unwerth

How to Get Ahead in Hollywood with Milla Jovovich 1997 by Ellen Von Unwerth

How to Get Ahead in Hollywood with Milla Jovovich 1997 by Ellen Von Unwerth

How to Get Ahead in Hollywood with Milla Jovovich 1997 by Ellen Von Unwerth

How to Get Ahead in Hollywood with Milla Jovovich 1997 by Ellen Von Unwerth

From Fräulein by Ellen Von Unwerth; Taschen 2009

From Fräulein by Ellen Von Unwerth; Taschen 2009

Bridget Hall by Ellen Von Unwerth

Bridget Hall by Ellen Von Unwerth

Christina Aguilera by Ellen Von Unwerth

Christina Aguilera by Ellen Von Unwerth

Bojana Panic by Ellen Von Unwerth

Bojana Panic by Ellen Von Unwerth

Mylène Farmer: Pardonne-Moi, 2001 by Ellen Von Unwerth

Mylène Farmer: Pardonne-Moi, 2001 by Ellen Von Unwerth

Nadja Auermann by Ellen Von Unwerth

Nadja Auermann by Ellen Von Unwerth

Zooey Deschanel by Ellen Von Unwerth

Zooey Deschanel by Ellen Von Unwerth

Katharine McPhee by Ellen Von Unwerth

Katharine McPhee by Ellen Von Unwerth

Sasha Pivovarova by Ellen Von Unwerth

Sasha Pivovarova by Ellen Von Unwerth

Nina Brosh by Ellen Von Unwerth

Nina Brosh by Ellen Von Unwerth


Ellen von Unwerth | Revenge

I love all the old pictures–of spanking and Bettie Page and corsets. But you can’t do spanking in fashion, so I wanted to do a project where I could really let go and get girls who also love those things. I thought it would be even more sexy when there was a story to go with it, so it wasn’t that difficult to write a little storyboard.

I had chapters, so there were 10 drawings in total. Each girl had a character and I used the storyboard to explain the story to the girls. But there was still freedom to play.

-Ellen Von Unwerth

Janelle Fishman as Emily; Travis Marshall as Eric the Chauffer; Revenge by Ellen von Unwerth

Janelle Fishman as Emily; Travis Marshall as Eric the Chauffer; Revenge by Ellen von Unwerth

Dorota Wójcik as Veronique a Maid; Revenge by Ellen von Unwerth

Dorota Wójcik as Veronique a Maid; Revenge by Ellen von Unwerth

Sarabeth Stroller as Isabelle; Janelle Fishman as Emily; Diana Stroessel as Françoise; Revenge by Ellen von Unwerth

Sarabeth Stroller as Isabelle; Janelle Fishman as Emily; Diana Stroessel as Françoise; Revenge by Ellen von Unwerth

Diana Stroessel as Françoise; Sarabeth Stroller as Isabelle; Revenge by Ellen von Unwerth

Diana Stroessel as Françoise; Sarabeth Stroller as Isabelle; Revenge by Ellen von Unwerth

Dorota Wójcik as Veronique a Maid; Revenge by Ellen von Unwerth

Dorota Wójcik as Veronique a Maid; Revenge by Ellen von Unwerth

Dorota Wójcik as Veronique a Maid; Revenge by Ellen von Unwerth

Dorota Wójcik as Veronique a Maid; Revenge by Ellen von Unwerth

Dorota Wójcik as Veronique a Maid; Revenge by Ellen von Unwerth

Dorota Wójcik as Veronique a Maid; Revenge by Ellen von Unwerth

Dorota Wójcik as Veronique a Maid; Tina Davis as The Baronness; Revenge by Ellen von Unwerth

Dorota Wójcik as Veronique a Maid; Tina Davis as The Baronness; Revenge by Ellen von Unwerth

Tina Davis as The Baroness; Sarabeth Stroller as Isabelle; Janelle Fishman as Emily; Travis Mashall as Eric the Chauffer; Revenge by Ellen von Unwerth

Tina Davis as The Baroness; Sarabeth Stroller as Isabelle; Janelle Fishman as Emily; Travis Mashall as Eric the Chauffer; Revenge by Ellen von Unwerth

Tina Davis as The Baroness; Sarabeth Stroller as Isabelle; Revenge by Ellen von Unwerth

Tina Davis as The Baroness; Sarabeth Stroller as Isabelle; Revenge by Ellen von Unwerth

Svenja Parotat as Lulu a Maid; Revenge by Ellen von Unwerth

Svenja Parotat as Lulu a Maid; Revenge by Ellen von Unwerth

Tina Davis as the Baroness; Revenge by Ellen von Unwerth

Tina Davis as the Baroness; Revenge by Ellen von Unwerth

Janelle Fishman as Emily; Travis Mashall as Eric the Chauffer; Tina Davis as the Baroness; Revenge by Ellen von Unwerth

Janelle Fishman as Emily; Travis Mashall as Eric the Chauffer; Tina Davis as the Baroness; Revenge by Ellen von Unwerth

Sarabeth Stroller as Isabelle; Revenge by Ellen von Unwerth

Sarabeth Stroller as Isabelle; Revenge by Ellen von Unwerth

Julie Ordon as Marie-Louise; Revenge by Ellen von Unwerth

Julie Ordon as Marie-Louise; Revenge by Ellen von Unwerth

Julie Ordon as Marie-Louise; Tina Davis as the Baroness; Revenge by Ellen von Unwerth

Julie Ordon as Marie-Louise; Tina Davis as the Baroness; Revenge by Ellen von Unwerth

Diana Stoessel as Françoise; Revenge by Ellen von Unwerth

Diana Stoessel as Françoise; Revenge by Ellen von Unwerth

Sarabeth Stroller as Isabelle; Revenge by Ellen von Unwerth

Sarabeth Stroller as Isabelle; Revenge by Ellen von Unwerth

Revenge by Ellen von Unwerth

Revenge by Ellen von Unwerth

Diana Stoessel as Françoise; Travis Mashall as Eric the Chauffer; Sarabeth Stroller as Isabelle; Revenge by Ellen von Unwerth

Diana Stoessel as Françoise; Travis Mashall as Eric the Chauffer; Sarabeth Stroller as Isabelle; Revenge by Ellen von Unwerth

Diana Stoessel as Françoise; Travis Mashall as Eric the Chauffer; Revenge by Ellen von Unwerth

Diana Stoessel as Françoise; Travis Mashall as Eric the Chauffer; Revenge by Ellen von Unwerth

Diana Stoessel as Françoise; Lenka Batkova as Laurence a Maid; Revenge by Ellen von Unwerth

Diana Stoessel as Françoise; Lenka Batkova as Laurence a Maid; Revenge by Ellen von Unwerth

Janelle Fishman as Emily; Sarabeth Stroller as Isabelle; Julie Ordon as Marie-Louise; Diana Stroessel as Françoise; Revenge by Ellen von Unwerth

Janelle Fishman as Emily; Sarabeth Stroller as Isabelle; Julie Ordon as Marie-Louise; Diana Stroessel as Françoise; Revenge by Ellen von Unwerth

Micki Olin as Ivy; Janelle Fishman as Emily; Revenge by Ellen von Unwerth

Micki Olin as Ivy; Janelle Fishman as Emily; Revenge by Ellen von Unwerth

Micki Olin as Ivy; Janelle Fishman as Emily; Revenge by Ellen von Unwerth

Micki Olin as Ivy; Janelle Fishman as Emily; Revenge by Ellen von Unwerth

Micki Olin as Ivy; Janelle Fishman as Emily; Revenge by Ellen von Unwerth

Micki Olin as Ivy; Janelle Fishman as Emily; Revenge by Ellen von Unwerth


Ellen von Unwerth | Jean Seberg

For more than twenty-five years, Ellen Von Unwerth has celebrated movies through her fashion photography. Her photographs are generally straightforward, without special effects of the allusion to a more complicated narrative; she simply uses characters from noted films as the protagonists of her fashion essays, such as the piece for the October 1990 issue of Vogue (available here, wm) in which models are used to reincarnate Jean Seberg and Jean-Paul Belmondo in Jean-Luc Godard’s New Wave counterculture film Breathless (1959). Von Unwerth’s fashion essay concentrates on the breezy life of the doomed lovers as they tool around Paris riding a motor scooter, smoke at cafés, and snuggle in bed. Von Unwerth exploits readers’ identification with the characters in the film, especially the generation that came of age in the 1960s, when European culture and bohemian antiestablishment lifestyle were the vogue. More specifically, the New Wave French films radically changed the way movies were made. They were consonant with the disjunctive and nonlinear literature of the time. Their off-beat characters (often based on American movie gangsters) and the details of their behavior and dress helped create an identity for members of the American couterculture.

-Susan Kismaric & Eva Respini, Fashioning Fiction

<i>Jean Seberg</i> with Christy Turlington, October, 1990 Vogue, Ellen von Unwerth

Jean Seberg with Christy Turlington, October, 1990 Vogue, Ellen von Unwerth

<i>Jean Seberg</i> with Christy Turlington, October, 1990 Vogue, Ellen von Unwerth

Jean Seberg with Christy Turlington, October, 1990 Vogue, Ellen von Unwerth

<i>Jean Seberg</i> with Christy Turlington, October, 1990 Vogue, Ellen von Unwerth

Jean Seberg with Christy Turlington, October, 1990 Vogue, Ellen von Unwerth

<i>Jean Seberg</i> with Christy Turlington, October, 1990 Vogue, Ellen von Unwerth

Jean Seberg with Christy Turlington, October, 1990 Vogue, Ellen von Unwerth

<i>Jean Seberg</i> with Christy Turlington, October, 1990 Vogue, Ellen von Unwerth

Jean Seberg with Christy Turlington, October, 1990 Vogue, Ellen von Unwerth

<i>Jean Seberg</i> with Christy Turlington, October, 1990 Vogue, Ellen von Unwerth

Jean Seberg with Christy Turlington, October, 1990 Vogue, Ellen von Unwerth

<i>Jean Seberg</i> with Christy Turlington, October, 1990 Vogue, Ellen von Unwerth

Jean Seberg with Christy Turlington, October, 1990 Vogue, Ellen von Unwerth

<i>Jean Seberg</i> with Christy Turlington, October, 1990 Vogue, Ellen von Unwerth

Jean Seberg with Christy Turlington, October, 1990 Vogue, Ellen von Unwerth

<i>Jean Seberg</i> with Christy Turlington, October, 1990 Vogue, Ellen von Unwerth

Jean Seberg with Christy Turlington, October, 1990 Vogue, Ellen von Unwerth

<i>Jean Seberg</i> with Christy Turlington, October, 1990 Vogue, Ellen von Unwerth

Jean Seberg with Christy Turlington, October, 1990 Vogue, Ellen von Unwerth


Ellen von Unwerth | Audrey Tautou

“Fabelhaft” with Audrey Tautou in German Vogue, April 2002.

Technique undoubtedly helps make photography magical, but I prefer to work with atmosphere. I think that the obsession with technique is a male thing. Boy’s toys. They love playing… but once you’ve perfected something you have to start searching for a new toy. I would rather search for a new model or location.

-Ellen von Unwerth

Audrey Tautou in German Vogue by Ellen Von Unwerth

Audrey Tautou in German Vogue by Ellen Von Unwerth

Audrey Tautou in German Vogue by Ellen Von Unwerth

Audrey Tautou in German Vogue by Ellen Von Unwerth

Audrey Tautou in German Vogue by Ellen Von Unwerth

Audrey Tautou in German Vogue by Ellen Von Unwerth

Audrey Tautou in German Vogue by Ellen Von Unwerth

Audrey Tautou in German Vogue by Ellen Von Unwerth

Audrey Tautou in German Vogue by Ellen Von Unwerth

Audrey Tautou in German Vogue by Ellen Von Unwerth

Audrey Tautou in German Vogue by Ellen Von Unwerth

Audrey Tautou in German Vogue by Ellen Von Unwerth

Audrey Tautou in German Vogue by Ellen Von Unwerth

Audrey Tautou in German Vogue by Ellen Von Unwerth

Audrey Tautou in German Vogue by Ellen Von Unwerth

Audrey Tautou in German Vogue by Ellen Von Unwerth

Audrey Tautou in German Vogue by Ellen Von Unwerth

Audrey Tautou in German Vogue by Ellen Von Unwerth

Audrey Tautou in German Vogue by Ellen Von Unwerth

Audrey Tautou in German Vogue by Ellen Von Unwerth

Audrey Tautou in German Vogue by Ellen Von Unwerth

Audrey Tautou in German Vogue by Ellen Von Unwerth

Audrey Tautou in German Vogue by Ellen Von Unwerth

Audrey Tautou in German Vogue by Ellen Von Unwerth


Ellen von Unwerth | Evan Rachel Wood

Von Unwerth seems less of an auteur directing her subjects than a co-conspirator who intimately knows the inner lives of these girls who want to have fun.

-American Photo

Evan Rachel Wood in the Italian edition of Max magazine, Ellen Von Unwerth

Evan Rachel Wood in the Italian edition of Max magazine, Ellen Von Unwerth

I think that, because I know what it feels like to be in front of the camera, I can be more sympathetic to my subjects. Being in front of the lens, you are very vulnerable. It’s not a nice feeling, and I don’t miss it. But it’s very helpful to know exactly what it’s like. When I was a model I hated when I wasn’t allowed to move, so I love movement and I encourage my subjects to play around, to move and to be silly.

-Ellen Von Unwerth

Evan Rachel Wood in the Italian edition of Max magazine, Ellen Von Unwerth

Evan Rachel Wood in the Italian edition of Max magazine, Ellen Von Unwerth

When it is a good shoot , it is better then a party! Gorgeous girls, loud music and a bottle of Champagne, or two…

-Ellen Von Unwerth

Evan Rachel Wood in the Italian edition of Max magazine, Ellen Von Unwerth

Evan Rachel Wood in the Italian edition of Max magazine, Ellen Von Unwerth

I’m just trying to make beautiful pictures. I don’t see my works as exploitative. They’re just cheeky, they’re fun, and the models aren’t complaining.

-Ellen Von Unwerth

Evan Rachel Wood in the Italian edition of Max magazine, Ellen Von Unwerth

Evan Rachel Wood in the Italian edition of Max magazine, Ellen Von Unwerth

My favourite photographers are Helmut Newton and Jaques Henri Lartigue: one for the strength, sexuality and humour and the other one for the lightness and charm.

-Ellen Von Unwerth

Evan Rachel Wood in the Italian edition of Max magazine, Ellen Von Unwerth

Evan Rachel Wood in the Italian edition of Max magazine, Ellen Von Unwerth

My boyfriend 22 years ago gave me a camera and a crash course about how it works, and that is how I started. I did reportage pictures in Kenya and shot my model friends, after I made them up and dressed them with my clothes. I knew already how to print black and white photos, as we had a lab in our tiny apartment.

-Ellen Von Unwerth

Evan Rachel Wood in the Italian edition of Max magazine, Ellen Von Unwerth

Evan Rachel Wood in the Italian edition of Max magazine, Ellen Von Unwerth

I think that women open up more to a female photographer. It’s like little girls playing around. You can be a bit naughty and do things you wouldn’t do in front of boys. It’s more relaxed somehow. I think it’s an empowering experience – and no, I don’t believe they are objectified.

-Ellen Von Unwerth

Evan Rachel Wood in the Italian edition of Max magazine, Ellen Von Unwerth

Evan Rachel Wood in the Italian edition of Max magazine, Ellen Von Unwerth

William McFadden has compiled an invaluable archive of Ellen von Unwerth’s work here.


Ellen von Unwerth | Her Best Shot

From The Guardian:

I took this maybe three years ago, on a fashion shoot for Italian Vogue. We developed a romantic story to go with it: a woman comes back to the place where she grew up, and finds it all dusty and falling apart. We shot it in a chateau in Paris. The girl was a model, and it was the only time I worked with her. After this, she disappeared. She was from eastern Europe, Romania maybe, and even the agency could’t find her again. So she’s like a ghost. The picture certainly has a ghostly feeling.

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. 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.

I was a model for 10 years before becoming a photo-grapher. That certainly helps me now. I always felt bad in front of the camera, having to pose in particular ways – when all I wanted to do was something silly. So now I love it when models move, when they express themselves, when they play.

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

'She disappeared after this' … from Fräulein, by Ellen von Unwerth

'She disappeared after this' … from Fräulein, by Ellen von Unwerth


Ellen von Unwerth | Ana Beatriz Barros

Happy Holidays!

Ana Beatriz Barros by Ellen von Unwerth

Ana Beatriz Barros by Ellen von Unwerth

Ana Beatriz Barros by Ellen von Unwerth

Ana Beatriz Barros by Ellen von Unwerth

Ana Beatriz Barros by Ellen von Unwerth

Ana Beatriz Barros by Ellen von Unwerth

Ana Beatriz Barros by Ellen von Unwerth

Ana Beatriz Barros by Ellen von Unwerth

Ana Beatriz Barros by Ellen von Unwerth

Ana Beatriz Barros by Ellen von Unwerth

Ana Beatriz Barros by Ellen von Unwerth

Ana Beatriz Barros by Ellen von Unwerth

Ana Beatriz Barros by Ellen von Unwerth

Ana Beatriz Barros by Ellen von Unwerth

Ana Beatriz Barros by Ellen von Unwerth

Ana Beatriz Barros by Ellen von Unwerth