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  1. #1
    billschwab's Avatar
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    Nudity and the Web - What's Our Responsibility?

    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. #2
    gr82bart's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by billschwab View Post
    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?
    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.
    Visit my website at www.ArtLiem.com
    or my online portfolios at APUG and ModelMayhem

  3. #3
    Ian Leake's Avatar
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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. #4
    Gary Holliday's Avatar
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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. #5
    billschwab's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Holliday View Post
    ..requests for trades are disgraceful.
    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. #6
    Rolleiflexible's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gr82bart View Post
    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.
    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? :-)

    Sanders

  7. #7
    wfe
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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
    ~Bill
    "Real Art is a Thin Breath Exhaled Amidst a Struggle in the Mind"
    Fine Art and Portraits

  8. #8
    SuzanneR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wfe View Post
    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.

    Cheers,
    Bill
    Yup... that's my impression of the men here.

  9. #9
    TheFlyingCamera's Avatar
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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. #10
    billschwab's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Leake View Post
    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).
    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

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