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July 3, 2013

New Weekly Mantra - Helmut Newton Exhibit - Rome

My first day in Rome got off to a sketchy start.

Most people who travel with me know that I dislike maps. First, holding a map indicates that you are a lost tourist, and second, (well really, this is first) I'm missing the gene that understands how to conceptualize slanted ant-like streets on a sheet of paper, in real life.

During my first venture into the city, I took a wrong turn (thanks to my inability to read the map I was holding) and ended up on the other side of the Termini train station. I found myself in a deserted area with barely any people (this is near impossible to find in the main areas of Rome) and I thought, If this is the walk I have to take from my hostel everyday, I will never leave my room.

I soon realized that I had walked in the complete opposite direction of where everything begins, and once I crumpled my map in my bag, I found my bearings. While walking towards the "center of Rome" I came across the Palazzo delle Esposizioni and noticed large signs featuring two exhibits: Helmut Newton - White Women, Sleepless Nights, Big Nudes; and Empire State (a modern art exhibit on New York).

This museum stop was not on my list of things to do that day, but since the only person I had to ask about changing itineraries was myself, it was an easy convincing.

After over-dosing on renaissance art, sculpture, ancient tombs, and frescos in Florence, I craved a dose of something more current and provocative. Newton's photography gave me just that. It was interesting to see how his work captured the female body. You strangely don't feel like he's exploiting the women, which I think is always there when the photographer's gaze is male.

I was also pleased to read that he had a wife. I then dubbed June Newton the hero in the story, as it takes a confident woman to marry a man who photographs beautiful nude women everyday. This week's mantra comes from Helmut Newton, as I feel it represents a positive outlook on looking and leaning forward.

“I like photographing women who appear to know something of life. I recently did a session with a great beauty, a movie star in in her thirties. I photographed her twice within three weeks and the second time I said: "You're much more beautiful today than you were three weeks ago." And she replied: "But I'm also three weeks older.”

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