Nudes - A Serious Question

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Paul Jones
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Nudes - A Serious Question

Post by Paul Jones »

I was asked last night why I rarely show my images in competitions.

Between 2003 - 2007 I used to quite enjoy entering ADAPS and LCPU competitions. They were a bit of fun and I've had my name on a few trophies in my time.

Those who know me will know that my photographic interests lie mainly in female portraiture, headshots, glamour and nudes. See - http://www.pauljones.org/

To cut a long story short, I withdrew from entering competitions after several comments were heard along the lines of:

"He's giving ADAPS a bad reputation"
"ADAPS is becoming a glamour club"
"He shouldn't put photos on the website in case members' children see them"
"There's no place for nudes and glamour in a club like ADAPS"


This did, and still does to this day, make me question my membership of the club. I often feel like an outsider even though I've been a member for 16 years. I shoot hundreds of images each month, yet the only place I show them usually is on my website. If I post an image on the ADAPS website it will usually be a 'safe' portrait.

Anyway, my questions are:

- How acceptable are images portraying female nudity, including nipples and/or pubic hair (or lack of it) within ADAPS, the L&CPU, or even international salons?

- Would the thought of seeing a glamour image or nude in a competition upset members, male or female.

- How would a typical camera club judge react to such images? Are nudes shown at other clubs or in Salons?



Please don't be afraid to say what you honestly think. I'd like to hear a cross-section of views from males and females please.

Thank-you
Paul
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Re: Nudes - A Serious Question

Post by John »

Well I don't think of you as an outsider Paul, Sue doesn't and I don't think anyone else who knows you would either.

There is nothing intrinsically wrong with nudity, the problem lies with the way some perceive it. Why this is so is probably beyond our scope here, but we know that one person's bedtime reading is another's pornography.

But I digress, and of course your own glamour shots fall into straight forward nudity or semi-nudity. I find nothing offensive in these, in fact they are very well done and very tasteful. I like them. Whatever we produce though, there will always be some who don't like it. I remember the incident you mention and it was only one person who raised it, and to be honest there was no evidence that ADAPS was becoming anything in particular. No more so than any other style of photography. ADAPS doesn't produce images, its members do, and they do whatever they want. It tends to vary. There was a time when there wasn't a portrait to be seen at the club.

I remember talking to Peter Bargh and he had a terrible time when he ran an article on one of the best glamour photographers. People were in some instances quite extreme in their comments. I had asked him for guidance when you and I did the article for him "Shooting Girls" a while back. There will always be some of this, but there's nothing we can do about it. We accept it and carry on. I would suggest that you enter what you think you want to and should we think it's a step too far we'll say so. The caveat is always that ADAPS is a general audience and there are some types of image that we couldn't accept. I'm sure you and I can think of some examples of photographers whose work would offend.

As for children, they have to be 13 to be on here, and by that time and a good dose of Miley Cyrus on the way there won't be much we can do here to upset them. The world has seriously moved on and some might be shocked at what they do watch on YouTube and other sites. We also expect parental responsibility, but in any event this isn't the sort of site that attracts very young readers.

So carry on with my blessing, and as you're a moderator here you can always moderate your own posts if you feel you've gone too far! Seriously though, just put "nudity" in the title or something similar and then those who don't want to look don't have to. Finally, don't forget we have female photographers who shoot female nudes as well. It shouldn't be a problem.
Best regards

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Re: Nudes - A Serious Question

Post by Janice Freeman »

Hi Paul, I have to be honest and say that I am not a fan of glamour shots but despite this. I personally think that there is a place for both glamour and nude images. However, I have to say that I would prefer the nudes to the glamour - but not with pubic hair. In this day and age I think it is acceptable and am surprised that people think it would bring the club into disrepute. If people don't want children etc to see it then they need to censor them themselves. Look back at all the old masters and the amount of nudes that were painted then - would people have them removed from the art galleries and books? I doubt it.

I can view a nude that is tastefully done as art, but when it comes to Glamour I do not like the 'titillation' side of this - for me it very much depends on the pose. Despite having a dislike of some glamour a skilful image deserves to be seen alongside every other genre.

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Re: Nudes - A Serious Question

Post by PhilipHowe »

Janice, I decided about 10 mins ago, that I would wait until you commented, as, at the risk of patronizing or descriminating, I value your opinion for much the reason that you feel you give your opinion.

As someone who (and I will apologise) is of a certain age, who, I remember being a complete "wow, I've just bought a camera " novice, to the standing I feel you have in the club, I value your opinion, as you genuinely see photography as a piece of art. You are also someone who I wouldn't want to offend.

So, with that, I agree with your feelings on nudes, or, what some describe as art nude, and, having done a nude "study" myself, I found it rewarding, as it was as much a light study as it was a nude study.

I'm also fan of Paul's work, which he knows, so I'm not directing any of my reply specifically back to him.

I was once in a group conversation, where another member described me as "one of those glamour type photographers". I took offence, but didn't tell the other member, and if that member remembers, please don't identify yourself, as that's not my point. My wife bought me a studio photography course a few years ago, and the trainer asked about me, and I said I was a member of Adaps, and his reply was "oh, the glamour club". I took offence at this, but 10 mins later, found myself in a conversation with an ex-member of Adaps, on his glamour photography.

I haven't taken anything that I would consider glamour photography until a few weeks ago, and one of those photos was published in an American magazine (I'm honestly not bothered about that). I take glamour to be the titilation and sex appeal of an image, which sets it distinctly apart from 'art nude' for instance.

I've done a few shoots with another member of Adaps, and I only ask her to come along, when I feel comfortable that the only element of the shoot is 'portraits', that said I *would* invite her along to a 'nude' shoot. I have entered a 'creative' of a nude, where I drew around the upper part of her body to give a pencil drawn effect. I honestly wouldn't have enetered it in its original form.

Back to Paul's questions - it's hard to answer, however, I, personally, wouldn't enter anything into a competition that wasn't clothed, or the art nude black and white I've mentioned. That said, I don't enter a lot anyway and my photography has nothing to do with competitions.

If there is something on the forum that has any kind of nudity, I would like to see a symbol or description in the title that tells me it is of that nature, as I do believe people have already.
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Re: Nudes - A Serious Question

Post by keith richardson »

Hi,
At Committee meetings there is sometimes a question about competitions and Paul almost always states that at the AGM the competition secretary was given 'full control over all aspects of the competitions'. So I suppose I do need to put my opinion across on this question.

In direct response to Pauls questions on L&CPU based competitions, I would say that there have been, in my time doing this job, quite a few examples of nudity in external competitions, such as inter club battles, but I have to say that the vast majority are usually included in Creative shots, where the effect is obviously in no way meant to provide titillation and is another element in the final image. We have all seen Ivory Flames' nude or patially clothed body many times, usually to great effect.
In fact last year Myself, John, and Tracey judged Wigans' Annual competition, and chose just such a picture by Adrian Lines as the overall winner.

In International Salons the idea of what is acceptable ranges widely, with some countries obviously a no no, (without pointing the finger at any particular mysogenistic religion), and others welcoming such images, to the extent that they include a Nude section, and one salon, based in Eastern Europe, is specifically aimed at photographs of the naked form.

If you wished to enter nudes into the club competitions it would not be a problem for me, but I may issue a warning before the evening commences that nudes were included so as to warn any member that would be offended by them. And seeing all the entries before hand I would of course discuss, with the author, any image that I considered of questionable taste, before deciding whether to include it in the competition.

Which is awkward as well, because nothing looks worse than a badly done nude or glamour shot, and then it would be excluded on the grounds of quality rather than content, which is an entirely new problem. A poor landscape can't cause offence, but a poor glamour or nude shot is another matter altogether.

As for judges, there is the old adage that if you show a nude it can put him/her in the awkward position of not wanting to appear prudish by marking it down, or appear to appreciate nudity by marking it up, although most I have seen judging such images haven't had much problem, and usually try to make light of the situation, as seen recently with Deans' image of Sophie, which I have had no qualms including in our club battles, and not once thought that it made us look like a Glamour Club, and heard no one imply that it did.
I know that this image was not a nude, by the way, but it's the only example that springs to mind at the moment.

No one should feel excluded from enjoying full participation in all that the club does because of their photographic preferences, and I look forward to seeing your pictures next year, or in the annuals Paul. ( hope I worded that right ) .

Keith.

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Re: Nudes - A Serious Question

Post by John »

Good answer Keith. We try to be a club that's inclusive and you've summed it up very well.
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Re: Nudes - A Serious Question

Post by Pensioner »

Oh how I have deliberated as to whether or not to post a comment on this topic and then I thought "Why ever not?" Why do people think they have the right to vocalise openly patronising and ignorant comments about other people? Paul's original post reminded me of the recent incident where a mother breast feeding her child in a public place was called a "Tramp" by some Neanderthal on a social media web site :evil: .

Paul - your style of imagery is one aspect of the art of photography that we, photographers and camera club members, should recognise as being just that. I'm certain that as individuals we have our own personal tastes, likes and dislikes, but the comments that both you and Phil Howe heard being vocalised are, at least, unwelcome and uncalled for in a photographic society and reflect sadly on the pitiful individuals who felt that they had the right to openly express their opinions. Everyone is entitled to an opinion but not to express it if doing so causes offence, distress or embarrassment :-[ .

ADAPS has always been an inclusive club, as Keith pointed out. But there have been times in the Society's history when the opinions of a vocal minority prevented the club from progressing. Unfortunately it appears that Paul's case is similar in tone and has clearly prevented Paul from displaying his excellent images in club competitions :-[ . I do not consider Paul's work pornographic in the slightest - his work is very reminiscent of the excellent Dutch fashion/glamour photographer Frank Doorhof (www.frankdoorhof.com) - it is moody, using lighting to create the form and in no way 'titillating'.

Where would ADAPS be if similar pitiful individuals openly castigated the use of programs such as Photoshop, or of using the HDR technique, thereby preventing certain images being shown at the club? Or "I think that images taken in far away places should not be shown as not everyone can afford to go there!" Or images can only be shown from cameras under a certain low purchase price because "I find it offensive that people can spend all that money on expensive equipment when there is so much poverty in the world?"

Photography is an art form and the human body, well lit, well posed and well photographed can be very beautiful and thereby in every sense of the word 'artistic'. If narrow minded people find offence at this art form then they should question themselves as to whether they should be a part of such an expressive, progressive and wonderful hobby - but at the very least they should not vocalise their personal opinions for doing so will only be to the detriment of ADAPS and photography as a whole. If they don't want to look at certain images, look away - simples!

Barry

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Re: Nudes - A Serious Question

Post by Janice Freeman »

Some very open, honest and sensible comments from the Gentlemen. By the way, having re-read my post, I want to make it clear that in no way did I mean to suggest that the work I have seen by Paul is titillation or in any way offensive! The images that I have seen by Paul and other members are extremely well done by photographers of no mean skill. Please don't feel as though your work should be isolated and neither that you are. Keep doing and presenting what you do exceptionally well - and by the way Paul - I do visit your website!

It would be interesting to hear from some of the other ladies on this, so come on girls, express an opinion.

Janice
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Re: Nudes - A Serious Question

Post by Paul Jones »

John wrote:Well I don't think of you as an outsider Paul, Sue doesn't and I don't think anyone else who knows you would either.
Thanks John. No, it's often the way I regard myself as I'm not your typical camera club shooter. 8)

Janice Freeman wrote: Hi Paul, I have to be honest and say that I am not a fan of glamour shots but despite this. I personally think that there is a place for both glamour and nude images. However, I have to say that I would prefer the nudes to the glamour - but not with pubic hair.

... when it comes to Glamour I do not like the 'titillation' side of this.
Thank-you for your honesty Janice. I respect your opinion.

PhilipHowe wrote: I was once in a group conversation, where another member described me as "one of those glamour type photographers"...

I take glamour to be the titilation and sex appeal of an image, which sets it distinctly apart from 'art nude' for instance.

Back to Paul's questions - it's hard to answer, however, I, personally, wouldn't enter anything into a competition that wasn't clothed, or the art nude black and white I've mentioned. That said, I don't enter a lot anyway and my photography has nothing to do with competitions.
Cheers Mate. You know you have my respect and admiration.

There's a standing joke on some photography forums that "if it's in black and white, it's art - if it's in colour, it's porn." It's probably not far from the truth, or at least how glamour / art nude is perceived.

I think it's true that glamour photography is looked down on by many. I describe myself as a glamour photographer on my website and to anyone who knows me and can live with any derision. For me it's about the photography and trying to improve my skills. It takes great skill and talent to make a well-crafted, beautiful glamour image. I'm in awe of Playboy photographers like Arny Freytag, Josh Ryan and Jose Luis and would love to be at their level.

keith richardson wrote: In direct response to Pauls questions on L&CPU based competitions, I would say that there have been, in my time doing this job, quite a few examples of nudity in external competitions, such as inter club battles, but I have to say that the vast majority are usually included in Creative shots, where the effect is obviously in no way meant to provide titillation and is another element in the final image.
Thanks Keith. I suspected as much.

I can't be the only glamour shooter in the L&CPU region. Perhaps other photographers feel the same way as me about showing their images in club competitions.

keith richardson wrote: If you wished to enter nudes into the club competitions...... I would of course discuss, with the author, any image that I considered of questionable taste, before deciding whether to include it in the competition. Which is awkward as well, because nothing looks worse than a badly done nude or glamour shot, and then it would be excluded on the grounds of quality rather than content, which is an entirely new problem. A poor landscape can't cause offence, but a poor glamour or nude shot is another matter altogether.
Thanks Keith. You have my respect for the way you have handled the club competitions and steered us up the rankings. I did the Competition Secretary job for three years and I know how much work you put into it.

I'm not picking an argument, because you do have the right to run competitions in any manner you see fit, but your point about choosing to exclude an image because you feel it isn't of good enough quality does cause me some concern. Presumably you would include a poorly photoshopped creative montage, an overcooked HDR shot, or a poor quality holiday snap and leave it to the judge to decide, yet would feel obliged to exclude a glamour / nude shot for quality reasons before the judge has had a chance to see it.

Pensioner wrote: ADAPS has always been an inclusive club, as Keith pointed out. But there have been times in the Society's history when the opinions of a vocal minority prevented the club from progressing. Unfortunately it appears that Paul's case is similar in tone and has clearly prevented Paul from displaying his excellent images in club competitions :-[ . I do not consider Paul's work pornographic in the slightest - his work is very reminiscent of the excellent Dutch fashion/glamour photographer Frank Doorhof (http://www.frankdoorhof.com) - it is moody, using lighting to create the form and in no way 'titillating'.

Photography is an art form and the human body, well lit, well posed and well photographed can be very beautiful and thereby in every sense of the word 'artistic'. If narrow minded people find offence at this art form then they should question themselves as to whether they should be a part of such an expressive, progressive and wonderful hobby - but at the very least they should not vocalise their personal opinions for doing so will only be to the detriment of ADAPS and photography as a whole. If they don't want to look at certain images, look away - simples!
Thanks Barry. I know exactly what you're alluding to.

I don't think I'm at Doorhof's level yet though. ;-]

Regarding tittilation, I have to say that the thought doesn't bother me at all. Glamour is meant to arouse a reaction. I shoot so many different styles that my images could be said to range from art to glamour to 'lads mag' to erotic to soft porn. As John referred to above, some people will always see a pair of boobs as porn no matter how well lit and shot they are. :D

Janice Freeman wrote: I want to make it clear that in no way did I mean to suggest that the work I have seen by Paul is titillation or in any way offensive!

It would be interesting to hear from some of the other ladies on this, so come on girls, express an opinion.
Don't worry Janice. I didn't take it that way. :D


I guess this is something that I'm going to have to resolve in my own way. I would never want to do anything to harm the club or upset its members.

Thank-you for your comments so far, and if anyone else would like to contribute please do so.
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Re: Nudes - A Serious Question

Post by Pensioner »

Paul,

I think that you have responded in a mature, balanced way.

Those who have chosen to respond have done so, IMHO, in a very mature personal manner and reflect not only the thoughts and ideology of photography as a whole but also to the inclusive, and not subservient to the whim of a jealous and vociferous minority, nature of what has increasingly become a well-respected photographic society.

I would strongly encourage you to re-enter club competitions with my support that if anyone dare voice their adverse opinions in my presence I will openly back your decision to do so wholeheartedly.

Barry

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Re: Nudes - A Serious Question

Post by John »

I judged a 13-club knockout tonight, and interestingly one image was a full frontal black and white nude. It was more explicit than anything Paul has ever put in any competition, and no-one batted an eyelid.

It didn't win through to the final round, but it came close as it was a very, very good nude shot.

So it is being done, which I hope you find encouraging.
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Re: Nudes - A Serious Question

Post by Paul Jones »

OK, thanks again to everyone who has responded. I think we can leave it there now.

Thanks again to Keith who has given me the answers regarding LCPU and Salons. I'm sorry if it seemed that I came over as argumentative. I have total respect for the way Keith handles the competitions and wouldn't dispute any decision he makes. He has a tough enough job. :D

Thanks
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Re: Nudes - A Serious Question

Post by Paul Jones »

keith richardson wrote: In International Salons the idea of what is acceptable ranges widely, with some countries obviously a no no, (without pointing the finger at any particular mysogenistic religion), and others welcoming such images, to the extent that they include a Nude section, and one salon, based in Eastern Europe, is specifically aimed at photographs of the naked form.

Keith's answer got me curious about Salons, so I did some googling.

Keith, Tracey and our other Salons photographers might be interested in this website and blog from Ciaran White, who seems to do very well in Salons with his art nude shots: http://www.thewonderoflight.com/fiap-awards-2/
WARNING - nude images are shown in the weblink.
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Re: Nudes - A Serious Question

Post by Gill Blower »

Paul, as one of the more mature ladies at the club I personally have never felt uncomfortable viewing your images. We invited along John Lyons to the club, a while ago, who does fine art nudes and it's surprising how you appreciate the image more for the way it is lit and posed rather than the nudity within the image. I have tried to get John back but he has moved and we couldn't sort out a date.

I am upset to think you feel like an outsider at the club but can understand how other peoples comments can make you feel that way. We are all entitled to our opinions.

ADAPS is there for all genres of photography and I think that is accepted my the majority of members. For me, it wouldn't be a problem.

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Re: Nudes - A Serious Question

Post by Tracey McGovern »

Only just seen this post, feel like I've missed a good discussion too late :(

Paul - no way should you feel like an outsider, I was shocked that you felt that way. I totally admire all your work, it's extremely well done and completely tasteful in my opinion and have not felt offended in the least by any of your images that I have seen so far.

From the comments above, by both male and female, it's obvious you are fully supported from the members who have so far commented (is there anyone out there who doesn't agree with any of this - speak now or forever hold your peace).

Thanks for the link you sent about the salons work, excellent images that I would be extremely proud of taking. All artfully and tastefully done.

I cannot add anything more to what has already been said except to say keep doing what you do but don't keep them to yourself, show them to us :wink:

Tracey

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