The Face Magazine: November, 2003.
“I used to be really jealous of beautiful girls. Now it’s the opposite. I love to see beautiful women and portrait them, the more beautiful, the better.” — Ellen Von Unwerth
Ellen Von Unwerth wants to play. “Every girl has a secret and that’s what make the pictures sexy,” says Bavarian born Ellen Von Unwerth. Finding and revealing those secrets is what the model-turned-photographer aims for with each of her divinely seductive images. Taker Dita Von Teese, for example. Ellen discovered not so much a steely-edged dominatrix as a vulnerable, damned sexy woman. “For me, a sexy picture is about emotion. It is more an expression, it could be just the eyes, or a moment. Something that you have caught, something voyeuristic.” As a model, Ellen felt uncomfortable and exposed. But a full decade in front of the camera helped her to create some incredibly hot imagery. “Winona Ryder was surprising,” says Ellen, remembering the shoot which involved the famously shy actress naked in a bath sending up her infamous love of rock stars by fondling CDs. “She was playful and spontaneous. She really opened up to me,” says Ellen. As a (straight) woman she arguably has a more friendly relationship with her female subjucts that some other male photographers enjoy. “Girls playing together becomes more intimate. They are not afraid to show themselves to me as sexy because it’s not as if I want to go to bed with them,” she explains. Strong women are Von Unwerth’s greatest inspiration, leading to such iconic shoots as a smoking Naomi Campbell, seductive, relaxed and wearing nothing more than a pair of trainers. The shoot helped launch Campbell’s stellar career. “It is more exciting to discover something about a woman than about a man. Women are like Barbie dolls: you can dress them up, create something different, remove them from reality.” “A sexy picture can come from anyone who forms an intimacy with their subject. You can take a sexy picture of your cat if you want to.” — Ellen Von Unwerth