I read a recent article about pinups had some statement that bothered me. It talked about pictures in the past objectifying women, and presented the idea that it was changing now due to there being more female photographers. I don’t really think this is fair to either the photographers, or the models, present or past. Granted there have been those that sought to exploit women, but I am not convinced that they were ever the majority. Throughout the history of photography, there have been the artists, those who who were learning about the craft, and the women who posed for them, because they wanted to. They sought to express something, or to show beauty.
It is often asked why many photographers shoot nudes. The conventional answer is that men like to look at nude women. While that has an element of truth in it, it is far from the whole story. There is the GWC (Guy With Camera) that uses his camera as a scam to get women undressed. What about the real photographer/artist? The person that puts years in to learning their skill, hours or days in to planning and creating a single image. A nude image can be used to express many ideas, depending on how it is presented. Sexuality is the first thing that comes to mind, but it also can be used to present vulnerability? Freedom? contrast? Rebellion? or simply explore the human form?. To categorize an artist in with the GWC or pornographer is really a slap in the face and very disrespectful of the time, planning and care they put in to their creations. Despite the stereotype typically attributed to men, I have seen several working on the set of a nude shoot looking off another direction because they did not want to offend the model by looking at her. Then there is the partner of the photographer, the model. The images could not be created without her. Why does a woman taker her clothes off for the camera. Again, people conventionally say that she was doing it for money, that the photographer was taking advantage of her, or conning her in to doing the photos for his own motivations. Painting her as a victim, or a foolish exploited girl. This is mostly an image painted by people with no experience with real shoots. If the pinup models of the past were objectified as the article suggested, then why would I have a model? from the other end of the state contact me to do pinup photos of her, not for money, or even at my request. I have also seen women who were not models, just posing for some pretty pictures, get a gleam in their eye, look around, and peel off their top. The real reason that women pose nude? It is because they want to. It might be to feel pretty, or sexy. Perhaps to go against a social convention that they don’t really believe in. To explore how they feel about their bodies, or just to help create art and be a part of it. Again there is a stereotype that women who pose nude, are dumb, gullible or easy. I have found this to be far from the truth. They are intelligent, respectable people. If an average woman is asked about posing nude, their reason for not posing is usually not about what they think or believe. It is about what someone else thinks, either that don’t think they look good enough, or are worried about what parents, boyfriend, friends, etc. will think. Why create nude art? Because it pulls attention, from both men and women. It touches emotions in the viewer. I like sunsets, and have shot many of them, people looking at them usually say “nice”. It is the pictures that are much more human that get “Wow!”