Nudity and the Web - What's Our Responsibility?

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by bill schwab, Apr 11, 2007.

  1. bill schwab

    bill schwab Advertiser Advertiser

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    I’ve gotten myself into a bit of a %^$& storm over in another thread due to concern of mine and trying to discuss it in the wrong way. I decided to just come out and ask in a "ethics and philosophy" thread and present it as a discussion so that no one is insulted, put down, accused, attacked or put on the spot. At least I hope it can be this way.

    My interest in this has grown out of a photograph I posted some time back in the standard gallery that was out of character for me, a nude to be exact. One done many, many years ago with a “professional” model from school days. Being a photographer and veteran poster of mainly rocks and trees, I was stunned at the number of views it received in a very short time in comparison to others I have posted. So much so that I took it down very quickly. I have to admit that it made me very uncomfortable to see this. Normally, with my more mainstream work, I would be happy to see this many views. With this one it seemed that simply because it was a nude female form, many people jumped on it and fast…. I got requests for trades… you get the idea. Nothing like ANY photo I have ever posted here.

    Around the same time I became aware there was news all over of a girl from the “Idol” show who someone had found nude photos of on the Internet. Very innocent ones I understand. This seemed to become huge news in the tabloid world, even crossing into the mainstream news. Ridiculous, close-minded and puritan as it may be, it was described that these photos destroyed this girl and put her and her family in a position of great compromise. As I remember, they were from a site such as Flickr… not unlike our galleries here.

    In my case - even though the model signed a release, it was nearly 30 years ago and many of us had not even conceived of the Internet and its wide reaching capability. However, images models pose for today are done so with the full knowledge of the Internet and its capabilities. Anyone posing in this matter is fully aware that these images may be used in this way. But what tugs at me, someone considering working with the nude form again, is this… Even though I understand that people sign a release in modeling for me, many times they will not be the type of “professional” model we all think of. In most cases they are not very experienced and are not truly professionals, but students, young people looking for a way to make some extra money, etc. They are not really thinking in terms of what is yet to come. Considering that at least here in America one’s reputation can be destroyed by something as innocent as posing naked for a photograph, is there more of a responsibility on our part as photographers when we post them to APUG and other sites?

    Forgive the long post and I look forward to the thoughts of those of you working with and posting the nude form.

    Bill
     
  2. gr82bart

    gr82bart Subscriber

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    The responsibility is to state this clearly in the model release, which I do in mine. I have several releases depending on the usage I am intending. My unrestricted release is just that - unrestricted. That's it.

    For a film photographer, to be honest, this is an overly concerned approach. Today's 'models' should be more threatened with cell phones and digi-cams than film photographers.

    Furthermore, do not be shocked to learn many of the images posted are by the models themselves, from their 'friends', from their ex's and rarely from the 'professional' or shall we say ethical photographer. (Copyright infringment sidebar for another thread.)

    Regards, Art.
     
  3. Ian Leake

    Ian Leake Subscriber

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    My model release explicitly mentions Internet useage, and we do the paperwork after the shoot. No-one has ever even blinked at this, although if someone did raise it as a concern then I'd happily take it out.

    All of my models are adults and are doing this voluntarily so I don't feel any need to restrict what I post on the Internet. Perhaps this sounds harsh, but at some point we all have to be responsible for our decisions and actions (and in most countries that seems to be at 18).
     
  4. Gary Holliday

    Gary Holliday Member

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    I've always mistrusted amateur photographers who use the camera to satisfy their sexual desires and it really gives photographers a bad name.
    " Have you shot any naked women," is the standard response from non-photographers.

    I wouldn't let this episode discourage you from posting your outstanding prints, but requests for trades are disgraceful.
     
  5. bill schwab

    bill schwab Advertiser Advertiser

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    Hi Gary, Thanks for the thoughts and kind words. The requests did not seem to be in poor taste, just the fact the response was much more than I had been accustomed to with my average post.

    Bill
     
  6. Rolleiflexible

    Rolleiflexible Member

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    Art, ouch! My wife Melanie is a photographer (published in Emulsion, with a show in Chicago later this summer) and a nude model, who posts nude self-portraits -- could you reword that one, please? :smile:

    Sanders
     
  7. wfe

    wfe Member

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    Unfortunitly our society gets all twisted up about nudity. What is it but a beautiful human body with no clothing. Why should this be such a problem? Now I don't advocate any sort of porn but the nudes here on APUG are just fine IMO. As for the number of hits they get well we are men and as male humans we are sexual beings and attracted to nude women. Just my opinion.

    As photographers I feel that we have an obligation to the models but if they sign and unrestricted release they have to expect to see the photos on the Internet. If they have any concerns about where the photos may end up they should either not do the shoot or modify the release in advance of the shoot. I've had models ask me to shoot their first nudes and I will offer to do it strictly for them with no release if they choose. I also advise them to be careful and know what they are getting into.

    Cheers,
    Bill
     
  8. SuzanneR

    SuzanneR Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Yup... that's my impression of the men here.
     
  9. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    Requests for trades in themselves are not disgraceful - it all depends on context. I've had folks here who out of respect for my work have asked for trades of some of the male nudes I've posted. I think in part because I know and respect these individuals already, and in part because of the context in which the request was made, I'd have no problem with doing so.

    Depending on the person asking the stupid "have you ever shot nudes" question, I tell them, "Yes, I shoot male nudes". It either gets them drooling or shuts them up real fast. Funny how the issue of posing gets awfully one-sided around the issue of gender. Frankly, in today's society, I think there is actually very little concern even regarding public figures about posing nude, again context-dependent. When you can have mega-stars like Colin Ferrell having begun his acting career in porno (yes!), and the ever-infamous Traci Lords having built a successful music and non-porn acting career after her scandalous debut, I really don't think this is as big a deal as it gets made out to be. Besides, there is a difference (really! even in the minds of joe and betty six-pack) between posing for Playboy, taking naughty-snaps with a cellphone or Polaroid, and modeling for an artist. I think also a lot of the public reaction to something like this depends on the models' take on it. If the model runs, hides and otherwise exhibits shame, the public will respond accordingly. If the model stands up and says, "so what? I did it and I'm proud of the work I did, and I'd do it again!", joe and betty six-pack usually go, "um, ok..." and forget about it ten seconds later.
     
  10. bill schwab

    bill schwab Advertiser Advertiser

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    True, but at 47, I am a far different person than I was way back then. I would hate to be judged today for something innocently done when I was basically a child. Yes... from this perspective 18 is a child, but the 18 year-old in me hates me for saying that.

    Anyway... knowing this and being a wiser old man, I can't wrap my mind around this absolving me from resposibility. The stakes seem so much higher these days.

    Bill
     
  11. wfe

    wfe Member

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    Suzanne,
    Would you say that this is unique to the men here at APUG?

    Cheers,
    Bill
     
  12. SuzanneR

    SuzanneR Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    No, Bill. Seems to be universal. Guys, for the most part, like to look at nude women. That's why the nudes here get so many hits here on APUG. Not rocket science.

    Come to think of it, I suppose, women like to look at nude figures, too. Male or female.
     
  13. Ian Leake

    Ian Leake Subscriber

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    You have a fair point Bill, but I do think we should keep things in proportion. In my country when you reach 18 you're allowed to join the army and kill people (or get killed), work as a prostitute, and go to an adult jail. All of these are potentially far more damaging to someone than nude pictures willingly made.

    Of course it's totally different if the pictures are taken or posted without consent, but I don't think that's what you were asking about.

     
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  15. Ian Leake

    Ian Leake Subscriber

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    I think there's something universal about the nude female though. That's why advertisers use them in adds targeted at women.

     
  16. Rolleiflexible

    Rolleiflexible Member

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    Bill, the APUG galleries are very different from Flickr. Images on Flickr are searchable and viewable by the world. Images in the APUG galleries are not searchable, and are viewable only to APUG subscribers.

    More broadly, I have shot literally hundreds of women. A shoot for me lasts two hours. The first hour is spent talking -- I want to know who is standing in front of my camera, and part of that discussion is how they came to work as a model. My experience has been that 99 percent of them completely understand what they are about, and what the ramifications of posing naked are. The few who do not, I educate. I've driven a few out of modeling as a result. But that was good -- they didn't belong in it anyway.

    The subject you raise causes strong divisions within the feminist community. Some believe that nude work is exploitative. Others think that women ought be empowered to decide what they do with their own bodies.

    For my own part, I will not shoot photographs that reduce a person to an object. FWIW, I think of my own work as portraiture. I try to find the individual in the person in front of me, even when the individual is a full-time model who lives in front of cameras.

    Sanders
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 11, 2007
  17. gr82bart

    gr82bart Subscriber

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    I know, as I was typing that one, I was thinking ... hmmm ... you know I mean, I am sure. :D
    This is the well known acronym amongst models - GWC - guy with camera. Again, one would not be shocked to know that many, many women find the GWC a very decent source of income. We men are so predictable, for the most part. Naked women = money out the door.
    I would disagree here too. A good friend of mine in the ad biz has this saying "There's no such thing as bad publicity. All publicity is good." Your concern for that Idol contestant BTW is an example. Just wait, she'll be on a Reality TV show, she'll have a recording, etc... She'll be a hit. Really, the concern is overstated in today's world. 20 years from now, will she regret the decision? Not for any of us to babysit an adult.
    More than one thinks. I have a few women friends who see nude women images as more interesting than any other image. To them it's empowering.

    Which brings me to my next point in all of this. Isn't this white knight - saviour from hell complex a bit paternalistic and condescending? Seriously. Take any one of several young models I know. They are smart women, who know they have a commodity - their looks. They've designed an entire business, with accessories and off-shoots, that they manage to maximize the publicity, marketing, sales and revenue of that commodity. And they do that with today modern tool - the internet - to reach out globally. They've had shoots in many places, many young men haven't even heard of, let alone visited. They've bought condos, clothes, vacations, investments, put themselves through school, etc ... All because we men will give them money to take their clothes off. Who's exploited whom?

    To think young women today need our masculine protection in today's internet world, I think, is a bit antiquated.

    Regards, Art. (Oh man, am I a feminist?)
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 11, 2007
  18. copake_ham

    copake_ham Inactive

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    What I'd like to know, Bill, is why you decided to upload a 30 year old photo to The Gallery? If it were a picture of a rock or tree, would you have done so?

    The reason for this query is presumably your vision has evolved over 30 years. Perhaps if you had done a recent nude shot and then posted the two side-by-side to show an evolving eye it would have been an interesting juxtaposition.

    But maybe, just maybe, you came across the shot - had a brief rush of the thrill you felt as an 18 y.o. taking the pic - and couldn't resist "sharing" it with us? Nothing wrong with that, BTW. Just wished I seen it before you'd taken it down! :D

    BTW, can I trade you a picture of some trees for your nude? :wink:
     
  19. Gary Holliday

    Gary Holliday Member

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    :D :D
     
  20. Wayne

    Wayne Subscriber

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    I dont work with nudes, but I dont think you will find a consensus among those who do that there is one best way to handle this situation. Clearly you are within your legal rights to post it, so what are you worrying about, would be one possible response from photographers a bit paranoid about having their own rights diminished. Personally I think you handled it well and I understand your discomfort. The person gave their permisssion 30 years ago, how do you know if they would do so now?

    I believe I read that Jock Sturges always asks before he displays a nude photo in a new work, if some time has passed since the work was created. This seems entirely unnecessary from a legal standpoint, but eminently commendable from a human one. I certainly wouldnt think less of someone for not going that far, but I would think more of someone who did.


    Wayne
     
  21. Ian Leake

    Ian Leake Subscriber

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    I'm not sure whether Jock Sturges is the best example to draw a general principle from. After all, many of his subjects are children and hence unable to give their consent in law.

     
  22. gr82bart

    gr82bart Subscriber

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    Hmmm ... just realized something. Here we go again. Us men ('cept Suzanne)discussing the merits of nude images of women ... Drats, I can't believe I fell for it.

    Regards, Art (Where's my list of cyclical threads to avoid?)
     
  23. Rolleiflexible

    Rolleiflexible Member

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    Art! I posted a naked guy this morning. Do we reserve our concern only for women? :-D
     
  24. eddym

    eddym Member

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    I did a nude model shoot a few years ago, and we discussed the usage in detail at the time. It was a tfp shoot, at her request, and I had her sign a model release. I specifically asked for permission to post the photos on the internet, and she (and her husband) were fine with that.
    The shoot was excellent, and all concerned were happy with the results. I posted some of the shots on a website (not my personal site) and labelled each image as "Lucy #1,2,3, etc." (Lucy is not her real name, but i used her real name). A few weeks later she emailed me and asked me to change her name on the images (but not to take them down). Apparently her mother had Googled her name and found the images, and was a bit shocked. She did not realize that they would be so "easily available." (Thanks, Google!)
    So I left them up, but changed the titles to her initials, "LP#1, 2, etc." She was happy.
    About a year later she emailed me and said that her mother was OK with the pictures now, and I was welcome to post them anywhere I wanted to, with her name or not.
    I left them as they were. By the way, they ordered a 20x24 print of one to hang over their mantle in their home.
     
  25. Rolleiflexible

    Rolleiflexible Member

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    Art! (I seem to put exclamation marks after your name, don't I?) I just realized you're up the road in CT. Can I borrow Kinga, please? Sanders
     
  26. gr82bart

    gr82bart Subscriber

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    Sanders!

    No! Kinga's in Canada!

    Regards, Art!