Helmut Newton. Work.

Before he was Helmut Newton, famous fashion photographer, he was Helmut Newton, gigolo. His particular obsession with women defined his career as much as his impeccable technique, and there may be no better overview of his photography than "Helmut Newton. Work."

My favorite image is in the first third of the book, which is devoted to Newton’s fashion photography — portraits and nudes, the other mainstays of his career, fill the rest. In this black-and-white photo, shot for Italian Vogue, a tall, beautiful woman covered in black walks past an old man slouched on a park bench. She is pulling open her jacket to expose a black bra and pale breasts. My mind can’t help but twist and stretch thinking of explanations for why she is doing this.

Originally published in 2001, just three years before Newton died in a car crash, "Work" was born from an exhibit celebrating his 80th birthday and curated by his wife June. It includes some of his most well-known photos, such as “Big Nudes,” as well as more obscure images. Celebrity portraits and dummies get their own chapter as does a small collection of Kodak photos that are as bright and garish as a "Miami Vice" episode.

Each Kodak print tells a story in the same half-seen way as that Italian "Vogue" photo and so many other Newton photos. Like you’ve taken a wrong turn and stumbled onto a sex party for the absurdly rich and beautiful. Helmut was invited, but we weren’t so only the briefest glimpse is allowed.

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