Forums

motivations behind nude photography

in Photos & Photographers
Business
12,330 discussions
103,397 replies
Photos & Photographers
19,660 discussions, 1 new
89,640 replies, 3 new
Technique
4,555 discussions
33,962 replies
Equipment
8,923 discussions, 1 new
62,669 replies, 1 new
photoSIG Talk
7,185 discussions, 1 new
78,745 replies, 22 new
User News/Ads
1,715 discussions
21,467 replies
photoSIG News
439 discussions, 1 new
4,289 replies, 15 new
photoSIG Cafe
3,975 discussions
53,175 replies
Critic's Corner
1,341 discussions, 1 new
16,826 replies, 17 new

Start a new discussion

From ollie0626/Jonathan (3,486) Send mail to this user on October 1, 2010 12:45:22 PM CDT

I have a question that I have been thinking about and I am sure is quite controversial.

I sometimes wonder how many nude photographers out there engage in this style of photography for sexual gratification coupled with what I am sure is a sense of power that a photographer inevitably has over their subjects? One reason I wonder about this is the overwhelming amount of nude photographs on this site (and I am sure others) depicting young attractive naked women in sexual poses. I don't disagree with this type of photography, and hey I will admit I don't mind at all looking at it, but I do sometimes wonder about the motivations of the photographer.

Anyway I have no strong feelings here on my part, just something I have thought a bit about and figured - what the hell why not post it!

Oh - and these thoughts do stem from a particular photographer on this site (that I won't name) whom I often wonder, given their pictures and forum posts that they do this work mainly for sexual release.

Read 938 times

Reply 

From rivermaq/Michael (5,730) Send mail to this user on October 1, 2010 1:29:25 PM CDT

"what I am sure is a sense of power that a photographer inevitably has over their subjects?" Why do you think that a nude photographer has anymore power over a given subject than say a portrait photographer, or fashion photographer?

Reply 

From ollie0626/Jonathan (3,486) Send mail to this user on October 1, 2010 1:30:54 PM CDT

I don't think a nude photographer has any more power. Although I wonder if someone is naked in front font of you if the power differential is in fact different now that I think about it.

Reply 

From sheenawilkie/Administrator (0) This user is a Premium Member This user is an Administrator Send mail to this user on October 1, 2010 2:24:53 PM CDT

First of all, I hope the photographer isn't nude ;-)

Most people are far more vulnerable nude than they are fully dressed, both mentally and physically. Try going to work naked tomorrow.

Reply 

From ollie0626/Jonathan (3,486) Send mail to this user on October 1, 2010 2:43:44 PM CDT

Right - thanks for that correction. Although it might level the playing field a bit....

Reply 

From sheenawilkie/Administrator (0) This user is a Premium Member This user is an Administrator Send mail to this user on October 1, 2010 2:56:58 PM CDT

I'm not saying this is true, I'm just saying this is one model's take of a pretty famous male photographer. Warning, adult language.

Reply 

From sheenawilkie/Administrator (0) This user is a Premium Member This user is an Administrator Send mail to this user on October 1, 2010 2:23:03 PM CDT

In my personal experience there are some photographers who get off on photographing nude models. You can see these people in workshops, not really interested in the photography, but sure interested in the nude models. And certainly there are issues of power between models and photographers and casting agents and art directors. Models are most often in the weaker position and yes, many have been taken advantage of.

the overwhelming amount of nude photographs on this site (and I am sure others) depicting young attractive naked women in sexual poses

Popular in the way that McDonald's has served 245 billion hamburgers. Like fast food it's quick, it's easy and it appeals to the lowest common denominator. It's cheap to produce and does little to provide nourishment.

Having said that there are many photographers who enjoy taking photos of the naked human body because it is beautiful, and they do so in a respectful., meaningful and intelligent way. They're respectful of their model, and respectful of their viewers. I've photographed nude models and hope to get the opportunity again, it was an interesting and challenging experience.

And remember, it's not just men who photograph nude women, women photograph nude women and women photograph nude men, and men photograph nude men.

Reply 

From ollie0626/Jonathan (3,486) Send mail to this user on October 1, 2010 2:30:10 PM CDT

Of course, I agree that the naked human body is a very worthy subject to photograph and is often done in a respectful manner to produce very compelling photography. And I also acknowledge that women photograph men and men photograph men.

Re your position that it is quick and easy - I don't see it being any quicker and easier than most other types of photography. It must be difficult to get lighting right, etc... I for one would have no idea how to do it.

Reply 

From sheenawilkie/Administrator (0) This user is a Premium Member This user is an Administrator Send mail to this user on October 1, 2010 2:47:18 PM CDT

Standard studio lighting is pretty easy. Once you get the set up right it's a simple formula, lather, rinse, repeat.

Reply 

From ollie0626/Jonathan (3,486) Send mail to this user on October 1, 2010 3:04:22 PM CDT

I would love to take a course someday on that actually.

Reply 

From ronc/Ron (2,260) Send mail to this user on October 1, 2010 2:29:04 PM CDT

I have done a lot of thinking about the same thing. In my opinion, many of the photographs of nudes submitted are fine, but there are a few photographers who seem to habitually submit photos that seem to be offensive in nature.

I wonder about the photographer who photographs women in poses that are derogatory to the model, and what is the true motivation to do this type of photography. I sometime think that there must be a deep seated hatred of the female gender, to continually submit photographs that depict women in a bad way. I also wonder about the model who participates in the association with such a photographer. Does she need money badly enough to allow this, or is she a willing partner to this type of photography? I certainly do not have the answer, but I do wonder about the motivation for this type of photography.

Reply 

From ollie0626/Jonathan (3,486) Send mail to this user on October 1, 2010 2:36:57 PM CDT

ok, I will just state my unsubstantiated suspicion here with no evidence to back me up - I suspect that a significant amount of men who photograph nude women due so for sexual gratification and some for a sense of power over the subject. Further photographing nude women is a more socially acceptable means to see live naked women, more so than say going to a strip club (ie easier to tell the wife you are going out on a photo shoot, than a strip club), because men can classify this as 'art' and 'expression'. I am not sure if the majority of men who photograph women fall into this category, but perhaps.

Now I know that there are many men who engage in a legitimate exploration of the naked human form through photography, but I believe that a notable amount of men who do such photographs do not fall into this category.

Reply 

From sheenawilkie/Administrator (0) This user is a Premium Member This user is an Administrator Send mail to this user on October 1, 2010 2:51:11 PM CDT

I suspect that a significant amount of men who photograph nude women due so for sexual gratification and some for a sense of power over the subject. Further photographing nude women is a more socially acceptable means to see live naked women, more so than say going to a strip club (ie easier to tell the wife you are going out on a photo shoot, than a strip club), because men can classify this as 'art' and 'expression'.

Anyone who has been around the glam/nude workshop circuit can confirm your suspicions. I'm not so sure it's the significant amount though. There are definitely people like that though.

Reply 

From ollie0626/Jonathan (3,486) Send mail to this user on October 1, 2010 3:03:56 PM CDT

Well, I haven't been on that circuit, but I am sure what I am saying isn't so cutting edge like you note. I guess I just wish we would/could call it like it is more often (on this site included)..."Dude, why are you taking these pictures - just to get off?"

Reply 

From phildeman/Phil (5,645) Send mail to this user on October 1, 2010 2:39:37 PM CDT

I do not shoot nudes. Perhaps, one day my wife will loosen the noose around my neck, where it pertains to nude photography.

In my opinion, the human body is a work of art. Capturing its beauty should be no different than capturing the beauty found in many of the nude birds, dogs, cats, and insects that are on this site. I agree there are some nude shots that don't inspire much or bring out the beauty in the human anatomy. Nonetheless, we should welcome nude photography, not shy away.

I can't read into the photographer's minds on this site. So, I am unsure if their reasons to shoot nudes has anything to do with having a sense of power over their subjects. But, many of the photos do give me ideas on how and what to shoot, should my wife loosen the noose around my neck.

Reply 

From ollie0626/Jonathan (3,486) Send mail to this user on October 1, 2010 2:42:01 PM CDT

Well if such photography is truly artistic expression, why would your wife have a noose around your neck? Why should she care? I am not assuming that you would want to shoot notes for sexual purposes I should say. But I have heard that before - "I would do this, but my wife won't let me' kind of thing". I know that these responses are a bit tongue in cheek!

Reply 

From sheenawilkie/Administrator (0) This user is a Premium Member This user is an Administrator Send mail to this user on October 1, 2010 2:48:06 PM CDT

I wonder why we never hear, my husband won't let me.

Reply 

From phildeman/Phil (5,645) Send mail to this user on October 1, 2010 9:46:10 PM CDT

My wife and I have a great relationship. We make compromises in order for our relationship to work. That just happens to be a compromise that I made for her, as she has made compromises for me. Yes, I made light of it by suggesting that my wife has a noose around my neck, but she is more flexible than I allow myself to be.

I agree with Sheena, "...there are many photographers who enjoy taking photos of the naked human body because it is beautiful, and they do so in a respectful, meaningful and intelligent way...". If you read my post you will note that I stated, "we should welcome nude photography, not shy away from it.".

I find it very interesting that people try to suggest that nude photography is shameful and bad, yet many people travel to art museums with their children. Art museums, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art has life like paintings and statues of nude humans for their children to view. Why aren't these works of art considered shameful? Did the artists of these works feel powerful over their subjects? Maybe Michael Angelo screwed every male and female he painted on the Sistine Chapel, including Pope Julius II, who commisioned the work in the church. Now that would be big news for TMZ or Larry King Live!  ;)

Reply 

From ollie0626/Jonathan (3,486) Send mail to this user on October 1, 2010 10:01:51 PM CDT

very true - many nudes in museums....but overwhelmingly they are not representations of very young, impossibly thin women with shaved vaginas in sexually suggestive positions. Frankly I just don't see the parallel between nude works of art in a museum and the majority of nude photographs that appear on this site.

Reply 

From phildeman/Phil (5,645) Send mail to this user on October 3, 2010 6:40:45 PM CDT

From a child's perspective, they are not distinguishing the difference between a picture/statue of a nude person in a museum from any other type of material that displays nude humans, regardless if the vagina is shaved or not, or whether the subject is thin or young. All they see is, "Oooooooooooooooooo look at that naked person in the picture [or statue]! His P-P is showing!"

Nude is nude, regardless if the subject is shaven, bushy, thin, fat, black, white, old, young, or any other criteria you feel make a nude image. Nude works of art in a museum is work that has been done before photography, and from the moment photography began. You asked if photographers who post on this site feel power over the subjects they shoot. Why wouldn't you ask the same question of the artists that produced work that are now exhibited at museums? Do you feel the artists whose nude works in museums had a different motive than the photographers who shoot nudes and post their work on this site?

It sounds to me that you are justifying that the nude works in a museum are of a better caliber and the artists had appropirate motives, simply because their works are in a museum. The parrallel is what was/is their motive for creating nude work. I will agree there are some shady nude photos on this site. But just the same there some shady nude works of art in museums, too.

Reply 

From jklee/James (3,232) Send mail to this user on October 1, 2010 2:44:49 PM CDT

I've often wondered why 99% of the nude photos here are of such low quality,

from a technical viewpoint;

the posters are a different breed in some way from everyone else.

Reply 

From hankbenson/Hank (52,539) Send mail to this user on October 1, 2010 3:35:26 PM CDT

I think this is the most recent of many Forum discussions on the question you raise: http://www.photosig.com/go/forums/read?id=243573 There have been many other such discussions over time but this one was far ranging and for the most part, thoughtful.

Reply 

From ollie0626/Jonathan (3,486) Send mail to this user on October 1, 2010 3:37:22 PM CDT

I know there has been many posts on the subject of nude women on this site - but don't recall any that discuss the relationship between this subject matter and sexual gratification.

I just skimmed that post - that discussion does in fact touch on this your right....

Reply 

From sheenawilkie/Administrator (0) This user is a Premium Member This user is an Administrator Send mail to this user on October 1, 2010 3:46:19 PM CDT

Apparently some believe it's all biologically driven. Men can't help themselves. I give men more credit than that.

Reply 

From ollie0626/Jonathan (3,486) Send mail to this user on October 1, 2010 3:51:04 PM CDT

Yeh I think that is such a copout answer as well. Of course, sexuality is biological in many respects, but I have no desire to put young naked women in sexual poses against rocks and call it art.

Reply 

From hankbenson/Hank (52,539) Send mail to this user on October 1, 2010 4:22:41 PM CDT

Jonathan, once again you bite off a small piece of what was said or echo someone else's opinion. This is a discussion, not a team sport where somebody has to win or make him/herself right. I didn't refer to the previous thread (which wasn't mine) to re-hash the previous hash but to introduce what what was said with regard to the question you raised here.

Reply 

From ollie0626/Jonathan (3,486) Send mail to this user on October 1, 2010 10:03:43 PM CDT

Hank - no idea what you are talking about here, sorry.

Reply 

From hankbenson/Hank (52,539) Send mail to this user on October 1, 2010 4:08:21 PM CDT

I don't see where anyone in the previous thread said anything so oversimplified as that, and it was fairly long and well considered from many points of view. You characterized it then as a good, thoughtful discussion, or have you had second thoughts?

Reply 

From sheenawilkie/Administrator (0) This user is a Premium Member This user is an Administrator Send mail to this user on October 1, 2010 4:29:46 PM CDT

Hank, why is no one else but you is entitled to a dissenting opinion without being called dangerous, wrong minded, having to win, etc. etc. You and I disagree on this issue and others, some people agree with me, some don't, get over it I have. It's you that turn this into a sport with winners and losers. It's all good. Cheers and have a nice day :-)

Reply 

From hankbenson/Hank (52,539) Send mail to this user on October 1, 2010 4:45:40 PM CDT

We don't disagree as completely as you say. Again it wasn't that simple. I've got nothing to get over but if you employ exaggerated polarization as a rhetorical device it's hard to maintain a thoughtful discussion. It becomes a bit like a phony, unnecessary debate for show, a way of throwing gasoline on an almost non-existent fire. I wish you cheers and a good day too

Reply 

From hankbenson/Hank (52,539) Send mail to this user on October 1, 2010 5:05:19 PM CDT

Thanks for looking at it again, Jonathan. I think attraction, sexual gratification as you use the term, and culturally nurtured behavior are often hard to see consciously and to tease apart. In the end, we're responsible for our decisions and actions whatever we see as the underlying causes.

Reply 

From mauro1/Mauro (11,421) This user is a Premium Member Send mail to this user on October 1, 2010 3:55:29 PM CDT

As with anything you will always find some people who do things for questionable reasons but I would hesitate to lump a large majority of photographers into the sexual gratification group. Don't get me wrong, they are there, and there are some that are completely nuts, predators, perverts, or worse.

But if you look over on Model Mayhem you will see some interesting things. Not surprisingly there is a huuuuuuge amount of the more sexually suggestive glamor photography. And guess what, that is what gets the most views, the most comments and the most lists from other photographers, models (male and female) and just about everyone else. Submit a crappy portrait on that site you will hear nothing but crickets, submit a crappy nude and some dude is going to write a comment on it complementing the model. So I want to be sure that somehow this does not get pinned as some kind of behavior that is specific to the just the photographers. All these people are drawn to that kind of imagery and it is extremely popular. And I think that plays into the motivation of some photographers. Photographing what other people find interesting and draws attention. I think we have seen similar things here. People see what is popular on the Main Page and then want to try and do the same thing. If you think the stuff that gets posted hear is suggestive, you should see what that other site has (hears loud chorus of mouse clicks). And it's not just the photographers posting these shots. The models are putting these in their ports as well.

The problem with many aspiring models is they somehow get sold on the idea. that they stand a chance in hell of actually becoming a paid model. And this goes for male as well as female models There are a lot of young girls who watch The Next Top Model and fall in love with the idea of becoming a runway model. They have completely unrealistic expectations. And unfortunately there are photographers and certain groups that will lure them in and use them. They will manipulate their insecurities about their appearance. Many of these aspiring models soon learn that no one is hiring them to do fashion spreads in Vogue and to make money they see that many girls are doing it by doing the nude stuff. Not sexually explicit porn, but rather the Maxim/Playboy stuff. Many of the traveling models do nudes and some do make a hell of a lot money in that. Not really surprising right? It's an extremely competitive field to be in. Some jackasses take advantage of that.

Reply 

From tvernuccio/Sheila (36,841) This user is a Premium Member Send mail to this user on October 1, 2010 11:33:08 PM CDT

"I sometimes wonder how many nude photographers out there engage in this style of photography for sexual gratification coupled with what I am sure is a sense of power that a photographer inevitably has over their subjects?"

I imagine some do and some don't.

Reply 

From ollie0626/Jonathan (3,486) Send mail to this user on October 2, 2010 11:14:50 AM CDT

Right - my thoughts are with the ones that do - and what proportion that those constitute - and further, if it is a larger proportion that we tend to suspect.

Reply 

From tvernuccio/Sheila (36,841) This user is a Premium Member Send mail to this user on October 2, 2010 11:43:11 AM CDT

I have no way of trying to figure what proportion might feel a sense of sexual gratification and/or power. Dunno if there's ever been any studies on it or not. Would be an interesting paper to read though if there was. :)

Reply 

From booksbikespics/Kevin (8,530) This user is a Premium Member Send mail to this user on October 1, 2010 11:38:06 PM CDT

The artistic argument most often heard is that of capturing the beauty of the human body. But if this were the real argument would one not expect female photographers to be photographing nudes in nearly the same percentage as female photographers on the site? I would submit that the argument holds only for a much smaller subset of photographers with nearly equal participation by women and men. In that much smaller group, my observations are that the work is often more artistically creative, more subtle, more interesting. Have a look at some of the most recent nudes posted by women, and see what conclusions you draw. It's easy enough to also identify those few men for whom the artistic argument applies as well.

Reply 

From jroessler/John (15,761) This user is a Premium Member Send mail to this user on October 2, 2010 6:42:40 AM CDT

Maybe I don't understand or I'm trying to split a hair, but is there a difference between photos for sexual gratification and erotic photography? I can think of several acknowledged photographic masters who made images that were at once erotic, artistic and nude; to name a few Weston, Stieglitz, Imogene Cunningham. Inescapably artistic, very well done and erotic. Is there something automatically wrong with erotic? Nude can be offensive - erotic can be offensive, very tacky. But, inherently is there something wrong with erotic? There is someone on this site who takes beautiful, erotic, artistic photos strictly of his wife. What a love affair. Is there a problem here?

Reply 

From dogothunder/Tim (6,805) Send mail to this user on October 2, 2010 8:22:03 AM CDT

I don't think there's much of a problem other than some people obsess over things by continually bringing up a subject for discussion that they are clearly always in opposition of. Most of us look and it and go on about our lives. We don't try to label everything to suit our own tastes. Nudity in art, photography, and life is obviously a fascinating subject and has been for all of mankind. The fact that some try to label "good" vs. "bad" (dirty vs. sensual) so they can justify in their own mind why they look at it is hollow.

It brings to mind a quotation, "The lady (generalized for person) doth protest too much, methinks."

Reply 

From jroessler/John (15,761) This user is a Premium Member Send mail to this user on October 2, 2010 9:16:55 AM CDT

I thing that is the right word. Obsess. In the same way that food is a part of life - some people obsess about food. Obsession can be really unfortunate and ends up crowding out the ability to enjoy a full life.

Reply 

From ollie0626/Jonathan (3,486) Send mail to this user on October 2, 2010 10:49:31 AM CDT

What do you mean by obsession? I am not at all obsessed about this subject if you are referring to me (and I assume you are given that I started this post). Your right - obsession can be a sickness and can crowd out life - but I would be very careful who you label as obsessed over a subject. I am not obsessed - but I do think about this subject sometimes. I think when you disagree with someone and then label them as 'obsessed' is an entirely cheap way to end an otherwise fruitful discussion.

Reply 

From ollie0626/Jonathan (3,486) Send mail to this user on October 2, 2010 10:46:50 AM CDT

Are there people on this site who 'obsess' of this subject? I disagree with you - I think the fact that some try to distinguish different elements of nude photography is the opposite of hollow. I completely disagree that those of us who are interested in this subject are trying to find a way to justify looking at these pictures.

Reply 

From sheenawilkie/Administrator (0) This user is a Premium Member This user is an Administrator Send mail to this user on October 2, 2010 10:50:32 AM CDT

Wow Tim that's pretty judgmental to characterize Jonathan that way. Obsess? Does he continually bring up topics in the discussion that he is clearly in opposition to? I see 34 discussions Jonathan has started and only one on this topic. Has Jonathan labeled nude photography as bad or dirty? No. How do you know what is going on in Jonathan's mind? Your last quote suggests that Jonathan is being disingenuous at best, a liar at the worst.

If you read the thread carefully you would see that everyone agrees here that there is nothing inherently wrong with nude photography, people are discussing the negative aspects of nude photography and you're kidding yourself if you think there are none.

If you don't like the topic don't join in, but please don't bash people for asking the question.

Reply 

From ollie0626/Jonathan (3,486) Send mail to this user on October 2, 2010 10:42:04 AM CDT

not at all - of course erotic photography can be sexually gratifying - my point is not the eroticism per say - but about the hidden motivations behind some photographers who engage in this genre.

Reply 

From sheenawilkie/Administrator (0) This user is a Premium Member This user is an Administrator Send mail to this user on October 2, 2010 10:58:53 AM CDT

but is there a difference between photos for sexual gratification and erotic photography?

Yes I think there is a difference.

Explain to me how a woman can take a very erotic photo of another woman and not be a lesbian and not be sexually attracted to her or receive any sexual gratification from taking the photograph or looking at the photograph.

And remember, the question here was not about the type of photography but the type of people who take the photos and why they take them. For example it's pretty obvious to me why some lovers take nude photos of each other, and I get why they post them to the internet, and honestly, in many cases, it's not about photography at all. Jonathan is asking about people's motivations, not condemning erotic photography. In fact he never even mentioned erotic lol :-)

Reply 

From ollie0626/Jonathan (3,486) Send mail to this user on October 2, 2010 11:12:09 AM CDT

I wish I could join in further while this remains on the front page - but I have 4 kids under the age of 6 running around my house (and my wife left me to do groceries)!

Reply 

Return to forum