Ellen von Unwerth is a director and photographer who started out working as a fashion model. She was born in Frankfurt, Germany, and began modeling at the age of 20. After being noticed by a photographer on the street, she moved to Paris to begin a career as a fashion model. During her years as a model, she started to feel that the industry was missing an element of freedom.

After receiving a camera as a gift from her boyfriend, she began to take her own pictures, which eventually led to an improvised photo-shoot in Africa of her model colleagues. Von Unwerth developed a passion for photography after seeing the published photos of her colleagues. She became famous for her work when she was hired by Guess to shoot an up-and-coming model named Claudia Shchiffer. This photo-shoot created a huge demand for her services in the industry. Von Unwerth then began to do work for leading magazines like Vogue, Interview, Vanity Fair, The Face, L””””Uomo Vogue, I-D, and Twill.