The Representation of Sexuality within the work of Helmut Newton’s Female Imagery to the Stark Contrast of Marlen Boro’s Frames of Male Boudoir


                                                                                                                                   Page Number

Title page                                                                                                                             1
Contents                                                                                                                              2

Table of figures                                                                                                                   3

1.  Abstract                                                                                                                          4

2. Helmut Newton –Photographer                                                                        5

3.  Marlen Boro -Photographer                                                                                         13

4. Conclusion                                                                                                                      24

5. Bibliography                                                                                                                   25

Table of Figures                                                                                                             Page Number


Figure 1          – Photograph of the photographer Helmut Newton                                            6

Figure 2          – Photograph of a women by Helmut Newton                                                       7

Figure 3          – Photograph taken my Helmut Newton showing the use of props.               8

Figure 4          – Photograph by Helmut Newton again using props                                          9

Figure 5          – Photograph of a women taken by Helmut Newton                                          10

Figure 6          Ph8otograph of a women taken by Helmut Newton                                        10


Figure7           – Photograph of women with Helmut Newton in the background                   11


Figure 8          – Showing Helmut Newton taking a photograph of a model                            12


Figure 9          – Photograph of a women’s legs by Helmut Newton                                           12


Figure 10       – Photograph of Marlen Boro                                                                                      14

Figure 11       – Photograph of Two men taken by Marlen Boro                                                   16


Figure 12.1    – A set of three images intimately documenting Maxx’s prostrate pleasure   17

Figure 12.2    – Second image                                                                                                                18

Figure 12.3    – Third image                                                                                                                   19

Figure13        – Joey: male Boudoir by Marlen Boro                                                                         20


Figure 14       – Red Rover Red Rover, will Alexar bend over?                                                        21

Figure 15       – Chilly day, but exciting. Christopher is coming over for an afternoon of
intimate and naughty photography seems fitting to feature him as the
‘HumpDayCockShot’.                                                                                                                             22

Figure 16       – The Swan Sings: Male Boudoir by Marlen Boro                                                    23

  1. Abstract

How can sexuality be defined within an image?

How can sexuality be represented within an image?

How does the general public view sexuality within an image?

What do the general public class as sexual within an image?

These are just some of the questions regarding the representation of sexuality within both Helmut Newton and Marlen Boro’s works that I intend to discuss and debate in some depth throughout this essay.

When showing friends and family both styles of work the majority felt disgusted and horrified with how easy It was for me to go to a computer type in one of the photographers names or a linking word which they have used either to describe their works or practice and these strong depictions of sexual images are then streamed across the screen with almost no warning of what the sites and photographs contained, this was very shocking to the majority.

However, what has truly caught my attention was the reaction from several of my foreign friends as they were not prudish or shocked by the works of both photographers but rather submerged within deep conversation regarding the intensely sensitive intimate imagery which they were viewing.

My first impressions when viewing such intimate scenes was that I felt shocked that two high class photographers  felt the need to publicise and capture images that are only ever really shared between two lovers, close family, friends, and one night sexual encounters. Having listening to other people’s reactions and responses to being shown the images in question my hasty opinions changed and developed gradually into a set of deeper questions that I wanted to ask the photographers themselves.

Further, I developed an understanding of the images, one which delves deeper than the initial incredibly condemning opinion which I regretfully made. I feel that the strength of composition and narrative within both artists frames takes the works away from being branded ‘the true pornographic image’ and by this I mean that they do not hold the qualities of the porn industries photographs, instead they are about selling the pictured body of fine women and men which has been photographed in a way that represents their sexuality.

  1. Helmut Newton

The photographer Helmut Newton is known world wide as a German/Australian fashion photographer. He was born in 1920 and passed away in 2004. I have decided to incorporate him as an image maker and his works due to his many well known nude studies of women.

I feel that the representation of sexuality within Newton’s works is hard to understand and identify completely as he always used (more often than not) the female figure as the subject which he captured within a diverse setting. Many of his least known sets of frames have an underlining quality of sadomasochism, however this quality Is only seen within the frames after a great deal of time Is spent researching and viewing the images individually.

At this point within my research surrounded by books relating to Helmut Newton and his impressive Large scale nude portraits of females, I was struck by the feminine strength that is portrayed within many of the frames which, in my opinion, emphasise the strength that females as a gender hold due to there genetic build and more importantly the reproductive organs which sustain the human race.

I feel that these images provoke positive reflections due to this sense of power that the female subjects hold. These positive attributes become apparent due to the stance and pose that the models are captured holding.

 Figure 1 – Photograph of the photographer Helmut Newton


For example, the image below contains both qualities due to the nude female’s stance, her hand is clasped on her arm with a tight grip, her chest is pushed outwards and she is holding a square pose due to her feet being apart and inline with her shoulders. More importantly her facial pose is strong and simple staring right back at the person behind the lens.

Figure 2 – Photograph of a women by Helmut Newton

Although I see many of Helmut Newton’s imagery as portraying the female form in a positive way there are many people who view his works as crude, unnecessary and pornographic. I feel that this is incorrect and that his works are quirky and visually interesting, the feminists who took umbrage at his works thought that he was a male photographer out to capture images of members from the margins of society engaged in erotic, fetish driven meetings with the social elite.

As he gradually became more well known for his nude frames and exploration with cinematography styled frames Newton’s photography quickly became branded ‘porno chic’ by the radical feminists that followed his every move and new compositionally challenging, highly sensitive imagery.

Figure 3 – Photograph taken my Helmut Newton showing the use of props.

A quote from a photography book titled, ‘A Very Short Introduction’ written by Steve Edwards delves deeper into cinematography. “Cindy Sherman’s pictures to take one prominent example employ the conventions of cinema particularly melodrama, to unmask some powerful ideologies of femininity as appearance”.

                        Figure 4- Photograph by Helmut Newton again using props


As I delved deeper into researching Helmut Newton as a Photographer and an intriguing individual I uncovered a group of highly erotic, yet femininely empowering photographs that contain a true essence and understanding of what many people view as a fetish.

The use of a male police officers jacket, old style telephone, worn out table and the joint combination of what looks like important documents held by a hand casually clasping a cigarette between two fingers, all portrays a narrative that many people link straight to the police officer fetish that we all know about but is never brought up in conversation, instead it is left to couples and one night sexual encounters behind closed doors.

However, Newton captures this incredibly well composed, thought out frame with an added ease of erotic taste which completes the narrative leading through the frame compiling all of the evidence within a single photograph that clearly has Helmut Newton’s personality and his own representation of human sexuality cleverly entwined within the frame, finalising in a single provocative image, containing pure beauty at the same time!

“My job as a photographer is to seduce, amuse and entertain.” – Helmut Newton.

                        Figure 5 – Photograph of a women taken by Helmut Newton




Figure 6 – Photograph of a women taken by Helmut Newton





Figure 7 – Photograph of women with Helmut Newton in the background


















Figure 8 – Showing Helmut Newton taking a photograph of a model

















Figure 9 – Photograph of a women’s legs by Helmut Newton























3.        Marlen Boro

In Contrast to Helmut Newton’s works I have researched into the photographer Marlen Boro, who produces images of a similar quality to Newton’s, but focuses on ‘the male boudoir’ which, as stated on his website, “is whatever you want it to be – unapologetically confident and sexy photos of you.”

Boro then goes on to state, “I offer my clients the chance to celebrate themselves – their bodies, their determination, their sexuality.”

In my opinion these two sentences truly grasp what Marlen Boro’s photography is about, a celebration of ones own sexuality and an exploration of their own body that they live within. I feel that on many an occasion I have been very lost within the different strands and I can easily go off on a different tangent whilst writing this essay. However, I feel that these two sentences are what really apply to me personally regarding my own representation of sexuality.

It is to be something celebrated rather than the traditional Victorian prudish, disgusted reaction that so many people, often British Citizens, still uphold today. There is the counter argument regarding the pornographic side of this deep question revolving around the representation of sexuality.

What classifies an image to be pornographic instead of an intimate documentation?

What truthfully represents sexuality within any image be it pornographic, an intimate document or even an innocent snap shot of any human being?

These two questions are only a few of the many queries that are so regularly thought of and brought up in conversation, blogs, TV, news, books and essays,  about this subject matter creating an ongoing debate.

After looking over Marlen Boro’s works and reading his biography on his website, I decided to contact him via email to see If he would be able to give me any more information about himself and his works, I could not meet him in person as he lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA.

I was able to arrange a Skype conversation with him and I asked him questions relating to his works and in general the representation of sexuality within today’s imagery around the world. He answered many other questions that I had written up prior to talking to him, all of the questions and Marlen Boro’s answers will be posted on my blog for people to view.

The conversation lasted a good 45 minutes most of which was us both chatting about photography in general and many issues and reactions that he had received from people regarding his work.

I really enjoyed speaking to him on a personal level because I feel that I now understand more about his works and his personality which, in my opinion is shown through to the images that he creates and captures, giving his images such a strong sense of eroticism, intimacy and authenticity.

Figure 10 – Photograph of Marlen Boro

I feel that the strength of Boro’s images are accentuated because he himself is openly gay and very self aware of his own sexuality and therefore understands the male body and this is very strongly portrayed through his photography.

Figure 11 – Photograph of Two men taken by Marlen Boro




Figure 12.1 – A set of three images intimately documenting Maxx’s prostrate pleasure.


Figure 12.2 – Taken by Marlen Boro

Figure 12.3 – Taken by Marlen Boro

Figure13 –Joey: male Boudoir by Marlen Boro


Figure 14 – Red Rover Red Rover, will Alexar bend over?

Alexar: male Boudoir Photography by Marlen Boro



Figure 15 – Chilly day, but exciting. Christopher is coming over for an afternoon of intimate and naughty photography seems fitting to feature him as the ‘HumpDayCockShot’.

























Figure 16 – The Swan Sings: Male Boudoir by Marlen Boro


Some of the specific questions that relate strongly to this essay hold some interesting counter arguments and answers to how Boro represents sexuality within his compositions.

Question 1 – What kick started you’re love with male boudoir photography?

Boro – Male boudoir was a new up and coming style of photography, he also went on to talk about the concept of boudoir photography being a tease in the bedroom.

Question 2 – What are your thoughts regarding the sexualisation of the human body, male or female, in terms of how porn magazines photograph subjects compared to how a traditional sculpturists would chisel strong human features into a block of marble?


Boro – Gay men are more interesting to photograph and are willing to lose all of their inhibitions in front of the camera, whereas heterosexual men tend to be more about the power aspect that they want to portray when being photographed.

Gay men give a far more authentic representation of sexuality, as they (like Boro) celebrate their bodies and their sexuality.

Ultimately Merlen Boro strives to be authentic with his works and his models further, in response to this question, he stated that he never aspired to create 2D sculpture he wants to produce the subject’s sexuality within a set of captured frames.

Question 3 – Within all of you is images what do you think represents the underlining sexuality within the frames?

Boro – The face of the subject, eyes and mouth however it does depend on the subject and the gender that I am photographing.

It Is a challenge to find and draw out the sexual confidence of the models as most of them are not terribly confident.

Porn is a false representation of sexuality within the photographic media.

Question 4 – In your opinion as an image maker and an individual, what would you say best represents sexual confidence within the subjects you are photographing?

Boro- I don’t know, great question of our time. Internet has a great impact and going back to Victorian times women and gay men where repressed which has jaded us in some ways, there is always a need for intimate moments.

4. Conclusion

Having researched both photographers the difference between them is apparent in that Helmut Newton’s photography is conducted by a man who loves the art of fetish in conjunction with the female form and his images are choreographed from the male sexual perspective, which shows through in his final photographs whereas, the strength of Merlen Boro’s images is accentuated because he himself is openly gay and very self aware of his own sexuality.

I feel that the representation of sexuality is incredibly diverse and very hard to pin point what exactly it is in current society due to its use in many varied media. However, I understand more about the differences between photographic images that document intimate moments.

In conclusion, it is impossible to categorise images because each tells its own story which varies according the person viewing the image, art in whatever form will always show different things to different people!

  1. Bibliography
  • Steve Edwards SE Photography, A Very Short Introduction – Oxford University Press –(Series) 1995
  • Sean O’Hagan, The King of Kinky, An article (found online) from the Guardian and Observer Book Season – 7th August 2005.
  • Marlen Boro – Male Boudoir Blog, Online blog and website-2009.
  • Websites;
  • Google
  • Skype conversation with Marlen Boro.

All images used in this document are held under copyright to the photographers Helmut Newton and Marlen Boro.

Unfortunately due to some issues with this blog and uploading images I have not been able to upload the images that I have used within the essay apologies, however online at the various websites that I have mentioned above In my bibliography you will be able to find the specific images.


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