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In Defense of Nudes

Posted on March 26, 2015 in Photography Photos

square854I don’t do nudes — at least so far — largely because I am shy about working with nude models. When I say “Let’s do some ahhrt” (reference to the movie “Gia”), I see my models with their clothes on.

Recently some shouted out that a favorite model site (http://www.modelmayhem.com) of mine is a place where “pornographers stalk”. Many models do pose in the nude there, but I think the person who made this statement makes a fundamental misunderstanding, namely that nudes are the same as pornography.

I have looked at many nudes in my time — running the gamut from Imogen Cunningham to Robert Mapplethorpe and Frances Woodman. And there is a fundamental difference between what I see in these photographers’ work — and those I have viewed on Model Mayhem — and pornography.

To put it simply, art nudes are about form and pornography is about sex. To understand what I mean, I suggest that you look at the photos of Edward Weston. Examine this photo of Charis:


Now look at this:

The intentions are clearly the same.

You can look for your own examples of porn.

It is true that some people haunt nude photography work shops for their personal pleasure. But if a nude model wants to ruin her career, she should pose for porn. Arousal can happen in both contexts, but you can look at an art nude and see something that goes beyond the arousal. A competent photographer of nude models such as Weston brings out shapes.

The fact that many photographers of art nudes do not reach his level of sophistication does not dilute their intention: they are seeking a perfection of the beauty they receive. Pornographers want you to feel aroused and to hell with beauty. By comparison, the work of pornographers is shallow and one dimensional. When I look at an art nude, I see much more. I see the play of the light and the shape of the body. I see how the photographer has arranged tattoos and curved the arms.

In our world, nude and pornographic are not the same. Give the photographers and the models they shoot a little respect.

My apologies to those who come to discuss bipolar disorder. My views on art are also part of me.

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