The other day my wife was photographing our kids around the house during one our regular chaotic days… nothing out of the normal, the girls crying, fighting over pop-cycles and camera time.
She showed me the photos and I could see her teeming with excitement. Taryn was totally happy with the way she used a new lens to capture a moment with Hanna where she gave her true and honest self. A moment that is fleeting and not staged… well too staged, we always have flashes set up in our house!
After asking me if I liked the photo she asked me if it was okay to post. The photo contained a bit of nudity, however, the lens blurred out private parts and I felt that it was a totally fine photo to share. She did so, on her personal blog, not facebook, flickr etc.
Taryn received a few messages, not only from friends, but family, concerned about nudity in the photo. Taryn totally didn’t want to offend anyone, nor did she want people to think that this was a ‘ignorant’ move. Taryn and I then began a more in depth discussion about the issue of nudity in family photography. Taryn has writtengreat post (please read) explaining not only her feelings but mine as well. Here is an excerpt:
“If the intentions behind the photo are everything love and happiness, then it shouldn’t be such that we are filled with fear.”
Anyone that is familiar with me & my work knows that I’ve photographed nudes for 20 years. I have not only photographed nudes, but posed for nudes myself. I have created a visual dialogue with nude photography that goes beyond my current understanding and definitely further than my own little world. I have often had to defend my work, however, I expect a little of it in the context of my art work. However, in the case of Taryn’s photos, I’m always a little surprised with some of the reactions and responses.
In fact, this is not the first time our action have come upon this sort of scrutiny. Taryn and I have had several family portraits done by famous Joe McNally. We are proud and we feel privileged to such amazing photos that record our families history and its growth. When I shared these images on Facebook it was flagged by a fellow user (friend??) and therefore deleted from their site. I was really upset when this happened. I was bothered that someone would feel so strongly about their position that they are not willing to see the beauty and importance of the photographs.
Joe’s photo ‘happened’ to contain my daughter’s bare backside, Taryn’s photograph was totally out of focus. These photographs themselves contain nothing that should be seen as offensive, however our fears cloud our vision. I could bring up plenty of names of artist that have had to deal with these issues in the past, Sally Mann & Jock Sturges come rushing to mind… however, at the very base of the discussion is the safety of children, and for that I’m grateful the conversation exists.
We decided to keep things a bit more private and not share these great photos that we take with the rest of world, well at least at this point. I’m sure there’s a market for watered down photography just like there’s a market for watered down booze.
I look forward to reading your responses, thanks for taking the time to read..