Model, turned world-famous photographer, Ellen Von Unwerth is one of the most prolific female photographers of our time. After she landed a gig with Guess in 1998, featuring Claudia Schiffer, Von Unwerth’s career skyrocketed. Ever since then, she’s gone on to play in the big leagues as the most sought after fashion and editorial photographer for clients that include Dior, Ralph Lauren, Chanel, Playboy, Vogue, and countless more. For Von Unwerth, every experience on a set has afforded her the ability to skillfully craft a trademark style that is easily recognizable.
So, what makes her photography so different? For starters, she has an innate ability to capture the sensuality and sexuality of women in a non-salacious way. Unlike her male counterparts, Von Unwerth’s irreverent style capitalizes on seductive, provocative women in various states of undress and playful scenarios, and very rarely, will you see these women being subjected male domination. Her dazzling parade of women run the gamut from innocent to naughty. They are not just pretty, emotionless dolls posing in front of the camera, but rather, the quintessential self-empowered female; stunningly beautiful and authentically powerful. Perhaps, it’s from her experience as a model that she is able extract that something unique and special from every subject.
In 2008, Ellen Von Unwerth’s photographic narrative, The Book of Olga was published by TASCHEN. This incredible, limited edition storybook portrays a young widow’s erotic journey. After the untimely death of her wealthy, older husband, Olga is overtaken by an insatiable lust and goes an erotic vision-quest that entails love, lust, passion, and sex. Von Unwerth’s enticing and descriptive narrative follows Olga and the colorful cast of characters she encounters. Set in a glorious château, replete with all the trappings of wealth and glamour, this collaboration between Ellen von Unwerth and Olga Rodionova brings to life the enviable luxury of modern desire. It is Olga’s quest that makes this fairy tale highly untraditional—she is a heroine who is not afraid of her lust, and it is her sensuality that leads her to the happy ending she so desires. It makes you wonder what really goes through the mind of an artist.