I started to shoot art-nude portraits a few years ago when privacy concerns in Europe began to make street photography problematic, and thereafter when COVID forced everyone indoors and mandated mask-wearing in public spaces. I was initially drawn to art-nude photography because I felt that the female form was more-than-sufficient to tell the kinds of stories that I wanted my portraits to tell. I also had the sense that images of women dressed in different costumes would unnecessarily complicate the portraits, or would make it seem as if the woman was there to display her clothing rather than to tell the story that I wanted telling.
But along came “cancel culture”. This included the belief that the mere act of gazing at another human being creates a subjective power difference, which arises because the person being gazed at is perceived as an object, and not as a human being. Moreover, "cancel culture" also held that the male gaze tended to represent women as sexual objects for the pleasure of the heterosexual male viewer. By this logic, any art-nude photos taken by a male must oppress women in general, and the female subject in particular.
While it is true many art works depict women as objects of male sexual desire, others don’t. And not all photo sessions involve subjective power differences.Nor do all male photographers aim to depict women as sexual objects.
But “cancel culture” has taken hold, and there is now the commonly held belief that thepublic should be protected from nude female images. This is the reason that most social media sites ban the showing of nude images, or require that “real-life human genitals or female-presenting nipples” be blacked-out of the images that are posted. I often hear from models that they post art-nude photos of themselves only for these to be taken down or that their social media accounts have been suspended because someone reported that their images included offensive body parts.
Limits to free speech are generally tolerated only when there's proof of imminent danger. But what imminent danger could nude photography pose, particularly to an informed adult audience? Moreover, can any part of a human body really be considered inherently obscene?
For this series, I presentimages of various models who have posed for art-nude shoots. Many of these portraits are outtakes, and while they didn't tell the stories I was aiming for, they aren't bad images. To make these "politically correct", I've marked up these photos using digital highlighters tohide those body parts that some might find offensive or obscene. If nothing else, this series illustrates that “body-part censorship” is subjective, silly and, ultimately, simple-minded.
If you'd like to see the full series, download the PDF catalog here.