Byron Newman

I fell in love with Maple at the tender age of six. She had skin the colour of honey, big brown eyes with long lashes, a heaving bosom and breath like frankincense. Fortune smiled upon me as I now had the ways and means of capturing my love on film, forever. I had just been given by my father, a simple box camera that had the viewfinder on the top. The moment I peered down into this frame, discovering I could choose the fragments of the world I liked and discard the rest, I was hooked.

One day out in the fields of summer, I had Maple beautifully centred in the viewfinder. But there was something I had not noticed. A large wasp had found its way up my short flannel trousers and at the decisive moment when I pressed the shutter, the wasp also took its best shot. I dropped the camera with a scream causing Maple to bolt. I did not pick up a camera again for well over a decade. My love for Maple and photography were gone in one excruciating moment.

At the age of eleven I was shipped off to an all boys private school for seven years of brutality and repression, which was part of the English education idea of turning the boy into the man. The academic part worked, but upon leaving and going on to art college at the height of the swinging sixties, I was more than ready to grow my hair, let it down, and misbehave. I was enrolled in a course that had a little bit of everything: painting, sculpture, graphic design, history of art and photography. I picked up a camera again with relish.
Moving to the premier college of photography in London I embarked on a three year diploma course. My tutors at this college were leaders in their fields, the fashion editor of the Sunday Times, who published some of my photos, and Michael Roberts, fashion editor at Vanity Fair. I was in good hands and upon completing my course I had a portfolio full of published work. After graduation, I undertook assignments in many different areas of photography: portraits of rock musicians (David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Captain Beefheart, Pete Townsend and others), stories about social deprivation, work for the National Union of Mineworkers, fashion stories, still life, art nudes… everyday was different and every challenge new. I was of the opinion that if you were a good photographer, you could turn your hand to anything.

Upon moving to Paris, I quickly became one of two staff photographers on the French men’s magazine ‘LUI ‘, working alongside the great photographer Francis Giacobetti, from whom I learnt so much, particularly in the realm of lighting. Images were critiqued in immense detail by the brilliant editor Jean Demachy. I was indeed fortunate to have such an experienced and inspirational mentor.

1984 heralded the start of my long and continuing relationship with PLAYBOY USA. Having found a sensational girl, Marina Baker, and shot my first centrefold of her, I was swiftly offered a contract and became part of the Playboy family, working closely with Gary Cole, the director of photography and Jeff Cohen, editor in chief of Playboy special editions. Their support and encouragement over the years has been invaluable. Living the other side of the pond , I also produce pictorials for the foreign editions in France, Italy, Germany, Holland, Spain, Australia, Japan, Hong Kong and more too numerous to list.

Again, I have fallen in love, with the same passion, photography. Which has turned a new page in my life, and it’s called Shoot The Centrefold.