Photography or Porn - How to distinguish?

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by whoissmarter, Jun 9, 2007.

  1. Since I became a member on Photonet, I make time to rate other members photos
    which are posted. I have come across many occasions where I have contemplated if
    the photo I am looking at is an amazing artistic creation of an experienced
    photographer or simply porn. However, I reserved my comments being a rookie and
    decided to create this forum to receive your feedback on the following:-

    1.what makes a nude photo artistic and just that.
    2.what are the differentiating elements between porn from art.

    As a rookie, I sometimes find myself in the "grey area" and lost for answers.
    Please throw some light to my question and this might also clear up the
    confusion for new photographers that are interested in nude photography. Thank
    you for all your comments. ~Gopi~
     
  2. A nude photo is artistic if it is art. Simple as that. What is art? There is a lot of disagreement in this area. I am not disparaging the views of others, but I take a traditional view about art, having been trained in th fifties and sixties. To me art is based on drawing. YOU CANNOT DRAW, YOU ARE NOT AN ARTIST AND ARE NOT PRODUCING ART. That is my view. Regarding the matter of art or porn, there are three types of nude photography: art (includes erotic art), boudoir and porn. Porn is produced with the sole purpose of producing sexual arousal. Boudoir, at it's best, is a mixture of art and porn. At it's worst it is porn with some clothing. Gopinath, congratulations. You have the name of a very great avatar and spiritual master. Sri Ramakrishna was one of the most important men to ever walk the earth. Om shanti!
     
  3. "Porn" is likely the wrong term. I doubt there is any porn on pnet, at least according to USA standards.

    That said, consider that if it looks like an ad or looks "playboyish", it is probably not a Fine Art Nude. If the model looks directly into the camera, expressionless or full of expression, or if the model can be characterized as a "type", ie, girl (or boy) next door, shy cutey, hot club crumpet, regal princess (or prince) etc, it is probably not a Fine Art Nude.

    Probably 99% of Fine Art Nudes are b&w or toned b&w.

    NB: this does not mean the others are not good photos and do not display artistry. It just means they aren't Fine Art Nudes.
     
  4. Do you remove it from your coffee table if the your mother, neighbor or priest vists?
     
  5. Dear Kelly: No room here for a coffee table, but the walls are covered with nude photography which is not removed for anyone. If a young child visits I try to remember to tell the parent in advance.
     
  6. Most (90%+) people are ugly when naked. I mean ugly: no excuses, wincingly hard to look
    upon ugly. If you're enjoying what you see too much, it's porn. Justifications are millionfold
    for nude pinups of hardbodies. In the forties nudes were universally called 'fine art' photo's
    in an effort to mask the erotica that everyone knew they represented. Nor should one delude
    themselves into the school that says if it's nude it's 'art' .

    The thought behind the image is what matters: the communication between viewer and
    artist.
     
  7. Thank you Bruce and Don E for your response. As you mentioned, "playboyish" which is not defined as Fine Art Nude. I used the word "Porn" based on the term from wikipedia i.e. Porn is, in its broadest state, the explicit representation of the human body or sexual activity with the goal of sexual arousal and/or sexual relief. I have contemplated using the word but it clearly defines itself as term right term I had meant. However, your explanation for Fine Art Nude and non-Fine Art Nude threw some light in perspective to my question. Thanks a million.
     
  8. thank you Kelly and Bruce. Appreciate your comments.
     
  9. Personally, I believe nude anything (photography, painting, sculpture) is meant to celebrate the human machine, its mechanics, its grace or power ect....(exceptions may be if the photo is meant to be a social commentary where the idea can only or best be expressed with a nude subject)

    IMHO if it is degrading to the subject or purely to stimulate sexually then it is NOT art, it is smut.

    If I am looking at a nude photo, I want to come away with a deeper appreciation for the human body or better understanding of the subject or idea. I dont want to feel dirty after having seen it.
     
  10. When is a photograph porn? hmzz thats a tough one since ther are a lot of people who consider the work of Mapplethorpe as porn while others think its fine-art.<br>
    I think it all has to do with what the photographer originally intended to express, and, even more important, what the viewer thinks he intended.<br>
    Its a very thin line, I've done shots which I consider to be artistic but on forums tended to be pushed in the erotic scene.<br>
    For me porn starts when i see sexual intercourse or explicit shots of genitalia, shots less then that are not considered porn to me.<br>
    A totaly different thing is if I find a non-pornshot (but close to it) to be "classy". I usually don't, they are way to obvious focused on selling sex and most time lack any creativity.
     
  11. This really is a "Grey Area" as you put it.
    If I am Photographing a female nude, she would be pretty disgruntled if I did not make her look sexual and appealing. But I would hope to this in a creative manner, not purely a "Tits and Arse" shot!
    The photographer Jeanloup Sieff produced some pretty sexual images, however they could not be classed as Porn as they are thoughtful and beautiful. Anybody can take a Porn shot, only a good Photographer can take an artistic nude shot.
     
  12. Once upon a time it was written that the difference between a photo-grapher and photographer was that the former shot only naked women. For over 50 years I have been involved in photography, much of that time being paid for my photographic services. Over that time I have also engaged in many discussions on the subject of nudes, some similar to this thread. It is my general view that the attempts to elevate nude photography to the level of an elitist art form only provides cover for us men who just love to see beautiful women sans clothing. There. I am out of the closet.
     
  13. Alexander Thompson - Thank you for your insight on the topic, especially that nude photography used to be termed as fine-art in the 40s.


    Nicole York - it was very interesting how you have help decipher nude photography to distinguish porn from art. Thank you.


    Olof Wessels - thank you for sharing your experience on nude photography. It was interesting that you commented that nudity that includes genitalia are more likely to be referred as porn.
     
  14. What's an "elitist art form"? Anyway, the Fine Art Nude developed in the 19th century academies as a technical exercise to prove the student's competence, since rendering the human form was (and should still be) considered the most difficult subject. Perfect proportion, tonality, natural perspective, creating texture, and dimensionality being the point. I've seen drawings and paintings of nudes by Bouguereau that are simply astounding. Unless one sees such draftsmanship displayed 'on the wall', it is probably not possible to imagine the level of skill the "academics" attained.

    Photography has added to the genre by leaving the studio and placing the nude study in the environment, in nature. Quite often the "envirnomental" nude is a much smaller part of the frame that in studio work. Weston probably started it.

    The Fine Art Nude should provide nothing to hang your sexual fantasies on. There's plenty of cheesecake (Bouguereau was great at it) masquerading as 'fine art' for that. Though some photographer's working in that genre test the boundaries of that by having the model express a personality -- what I call "charaterization" -- so that a connection is made with the spectator. Enjoy.
     
  15. Andrew Moseley and Dennis Fassett - Thank you for your contribution. Much appreciated.
     
  16. Don E. - Thank you once again for imparting your extensive knowledge on Fine Art Nude and the required competencies in general. It is ashamed that we don't find many that match the caliber of astounding photographers such as Bouguereau, Jeanloup Sieff and Ruth Bernhard.
     
  17. Anyone heard of the Kama Sutra ? Written and illustrated 2000 years ago. Carvings
    sculptures, coins and yes.. toys all depicting graphic sexual positions and erotic instructions.
    I don't think it's a big leap to imagine if a DSLR and a color printer was handy on the Indian
    sub-continent at that time that it would not have been put to good use for the same.
    Nothing on PN comes close to the graphic nature of the Kama Sutra, lots of pretty 'tacky"
    pics, houswives from the local mall dollyed up for a session at thier local photo studio and
    some really beautiful photos of the naked form. But pornography ? I don't think so. It's all
    about perception and depending on which culture you were bought up in then this is how
    your world will be colored.
     
  18. I get the feeling from many of the postings above that people feel that a nude has to be "attractive" or "beautiful" or "artistic" to be art. But you only have to look at Irving Penn's book of nudes to see that this type of sterotypic view is not really true; or look at some of the Araki nudes. Then read Kenneth Clark's The Nude for a history of the nude in art. You might also think about the difference between the "naked" and the "nude".
    Indeed there is nothing special about determining what is art when dealing with a nude that you wouldn't consider in any other picture -- and standards and views change over time. In some countries hyprocrisy and prudishness is stronger that in other ones. In any case, have a look at the introduction to Gombrich's The Story of Art, which is the best general introduction to the history of art, in which he contrasts a drawing by Durer of his old mother with a cherubic picture of by Rubens of his baby son. The latter is very pretty and sweet, while the Durer is a picture of old age, which is not, in itself attractive. However, Gombrich explains that the Durer is beatiful because the deep truth and love with which it was obviously drawn. You can look at nudes in the same way and make your own judgments without anyone else telling you what you should think.
    So what do you think of the following two pictures?
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    And if you want to see these picture in context you can look at this slideshow, which has 112 pictures, in dour chapters although there are no chapter titles.
    --Mitch/Bangkok
     
  19. In the last sentence, that should be "four chapters" not "dour chapters".
     
  20. Hi Mitch - great pics and definetly not pornography (strangely familiar)
    Nic/BKK too.
     
  21. It's my policy not to comment online photos, nor solicit comments for mine. What I know about art is that a lot of it is bad art, a lot of it is mediocre art, and a little bit of it is good art. Fine Art is a genre and is not all art (or all good art). It is just a genre of art.

    An interesting display of the Fine Art Nude in photography is pnet member Zoe Wiseman's site:

    http://www.zoewiseman.com/index2.htm

    Imo, not all of the photos under the Fine Art Nude menu belong there, but nearly all of them display the aesthetic.
     
  22. Dear Nic Bower. Thank you for your comments. However, I would like to correct what you had written about the Kamasutra. You had mentioned "Nothing on PN comes close to the graphic nature of the Kamasutra..".

    This might be out of context in this forum but I thought it would be worth clearing up since Kamasutra is mentioned as graphic. The very translation of the term Kamasutra, whereby Sutra (shastra) refers to "scripture" and not any form of graphic art. Nothing graphic yet until the end of 19th century when Sir Richard Burton together with Indian scholars translated it into English and of course lots of photos exemplified for the layman. Tantric text is often misconstrued for Kama Sutra. This again is perception and nothing to do with culture. So the drawings or art you were referring to are probably creations much later in books published in the West. This once again is often wrongly referred to as Kamasutra when it actually means Tantra which is a very very different scripture.

    My humble apologies for dwelling out of topic.
     
  23. Most of the Zoe Wiseman stuff looks awfully pretentipous to me: like someone saying, "Look
    at me, I'm creating Fine Art (with a capital "F" and an capital "A". Ugh!

    ?Mitch/Bangkok
     
  24. Hi Gopinath. The works of Vatsyayana, Kokka, Jyotirisvara, Gunakara, Jayadeva, Bhanudatta,
    Kalyanamalla, i have all lumped together rightly or wrongly as the "kama sutra" - In any case
    there was plenty of T & A depicted in the 1st and 2nd centuries !!! cheers, Nic.
     
  25. As a comment to the photos that Mitch posted: maybe the difference between artistic nudes and porn is the difference between the photographer expressing appreciation of the model or just exploiting its features.

    I think one problem with finding a satisfying answer is that you can still find photographs involving nudity that fall in other categories than these two (artistic and porn). Some photos are using bodies in unnatural positions - they don't feel like porn, but I don't feel they are very artistic either, regardless of the technical expertise involved - they just feel like contrived ad setups. Some photos appear to just document a person that happens to be fully or partially naked - the photograph can have value as a historical document, with it being neither artistical nor porn. Some photos may just document genitalia for medical purposes, again, being neither art nor porn. There are certainly other such examples.

    Another problem, and this is probably the most difficult one, is that because of our upraising, we have different reactions to the naked body - we don't respond to it in the same way, hence photographers will react differently to a body, deciding on various aspects as being worthy of praise, and viewers will react differently to the resulting photograph. This is why some photos will be just documenting the photographer's obsessions, which may be construed as either porn or art depending on whether the viewer shares those obsessions or not.

    Lots of gray areas here...
     
  26. Hi again Nic Bower. Thanks for your comments. I was just making a point that it was unnecessary to state "Nothing on PN comes close to the graphic nature of Kamasutra". It is simply unnecessary.

    However, I do agree with you that sexuality took its form through art in the earlier centuries. It is interesting to note that erotism is depicted in ancient history in countries such as India, China, Japan. So did the Greeks and Romans thousands of years ago.

    You also mentioned "It's all about perception and depending on which culture you were bought up in then this is how your world will be colored." The culture of the above countries such as India, China and Japan are all Asian where "erotic depiction" of some form were created. So asian cultures are not ruled out since ancient artifacts prove the existence of "erotic depiction" too. Please explain what do you mean by perception and depending on culture when Asian countries in the early days had "erotic depictions" in them too. I am using asian countries as an example. How would someone from such cultural background depict the so-called photograph as art or porn? What is the challenge faced by this person to make the distinction? Please throw some light to my question. Thank you.
     
  27. Hi Laurentiu. Thank you for your intelligent observation pertaining to the reaction of every individual differs when viewing artistic nudes/porn. So clearly one of the "variable factor" is the background or upbringing of the viewer from your point of view.
     
  28. Hi Gopinath; there is no challenge. If you grow up in a society that says nakedness is porn yet
    a photograph on the front page of a national news paper showing a decapitated head with
    blood oozing out is quite normal (Indonesia for example); then there is no challenge. It is
    your culture that determines how you percieve everything around you. PN being US centric
    obviously suffers from this as well - as we constantly see puritan values pop up here.
     
  29. Culturally determined -- absolutely. Here is Thailand the Ministry of Culture keeps on
    going on about young women wearing "spaghetti-strap" tops, which are in no way as
    scanty as halters worn in summer in the West, as being "un-Thai". However, a hundred
    years ago young Thai women often went topless, even in the royal palace. They covered up
    during in the thirties under the westernizing, fascist inspired, nationalist prime minister,
    Pibulsongkram. At one point he decreed that all people coming into Bangkok had to wear
    hats and shoes, to be "civilized". Shops sprung up at the outskirts of the city that rented
    hats and shoes to farmers coming into town.

    --Mitch/Bangkok
     
  30. Probably all academic art would appear pretentious to us; 19th century pictorialist photography, which adopted the conventions of the academics will have a similar effect. We're not here -- at least I'm not -- to critique online images. A pretentious activity if there ever was one.

    I gave those examples to support my point that the intent of Fine Art Nude work is divorced from not merely pornography, but the common run of nudes photos.
     
  31. No we're here for discussion, and it's impossible to discuss such a topic intelligently without
    making judgments. Therefore, I'm not that impressed with repeated statements, rather
    posmpous, statements that we're not here to evaluate of criticize online images because that
    would make for rather unintersting discussions.

    --Mitch/Bangkok
     
  32. Thank you Nic Bower for your comments once again. I am trying to grow into photography with the right mindset and maturity especially when I look at a photo which is disputable. In this forum, it is nudity although it can be in the context of any genre. It is also difficult not to be influenced by being bias when looking at a photo, especially when it receives disputable comments from what you actually see. However, the eyes don't lie based on perception.
     
  33. ...or does it...?
     
  34. Why does it matter? In the US pornography is legal. OBSCENITY is what is illegal.
     
  35. Hi Daniel. Please read the heading. Not relevant to legality.
     
  36. "...rather posmpous, statements that we're not here to evaluate of criticize online images..."

    Criticizing online images as they appear on your computer display. You and others may be here to do that. I am not, so there is no "we".

    "Posmpous (sic)", is nice. So is "pretentious". You do realize they are not criticisms of a photograph, but of the photographer? Not of what is written, but who wrote it? Perhaps not.

    I think it is pretentious of someone who knows better pretending they are critiquing someone's photographs when what they are doing is criticising the images displayed on their computer. They are pretending. Same root, etymology, and meaning as pretentious.

    Such a pretense, is, of course, the life's blood of sites like photo.net. So, 'the law' is on your side in this.
     
  37. It remains my view that The Emperor, and his models, still wear no clothes.
     
  38. Criticism of a photographer rather than of her work? Really? I don't know anything about the
    photographer in question except the work shown on her website; and, once something is
    shown to the public it can, and should, be evaluated and ciriticized, if that is what people
    want to do. And I still think that the "Fine Art Nudes" series is pretentious. Is the
    photographer pretentious? I've no idea; perhaps she makes good money this way. I certainly
    don't mind if people evaluate my work: some people will like it; others won't. No big deal.

    --Mitch/Bangkok
     
  39. Dear all,
    please do not use this forum as an avenue for wordplay and slandering/ridiculing each other. I respect all your views and thank you for the effort and time you have put in this forum. It is definitely a topic which has been in debate for a long time which is a matter of opinion and there is clearly no right or wrong. Thank you all for sharing your opinions.
     
  40. Gopinath, you don't have to feel proprietary about this thread just because you started it. I
    haven't slandered anyone by saying that the Fine Art Nude to which someone provided a link
    is pretentious. Nor is there word paly or slandering, or even ridiculing here. This is a
    discussion; please don't try to stop it.

    --Mitch/Bangkok
     
  41. Hi Mitch Alland. Not trying to stop anything nor did I mention anything about stopping this thread since I got the ball rolling in the first place. However, it was pretty obvious that the forum became You and Don E and it was noticeably drifting away. Please refer to both of your comments and it should speak for itself. I never claimed proprietary for this thread but just wisdom from it. There is nothing wrong when I direct the thread back to perspective (responsibility of all that care as members of PN).
    Besides, take a chill pill! I was not even accusing you of slandering or ridiculing anyone. Read my last comment which starts with "Dear all". I do have a day job and don't intend to make this thread my life by claiming proprietary (thats exaggeration and am kidding!!). Cheers!
     
  42. getting back to some really cool photography now and I would like to hear your comments
    (porn or not) after looking over this site - http://tokyoundressed.blogspot.com/
    This is wonderful stuff.
     
  43. He (Rikki Kasso) has some very interesting creations, nude and other genres. I will be back later with my comments, Nic. Thank you for your contribution. ~Gopi~
     
  44. Gopinath, I'll retire from the discussion. No problem. No stress.

    "I certainly don't mind if people evaluate my work: some people will like it; others won't. No big deal"

    I've got 5 computer displays plus two laptops here. Calibrated, uncalibrated, lcds, crts, 20 inchers to 14 inchers, and from 1600x1200 to 800x600 screen resolution. Your images (above) look different in each of them. This is one of many reasons why I don't critique images displayed in web browsers. Perhaps I take it too seriously.
     
  45. Hi Don E. Thank you once again for sharing your thoughts and believes based on your experiences in photography. I am still on the quest for knowledge here and intend to come out wiser...hopefully..hehehe.
     
  46. Hi Don,
    why do you even bother opening your web browser at all ??? You've got some interesting pics
    in your gallery - should i just dismiss them as little boxes of color and then ask you to print
    off some really big ones. send to me and then I'll let you know if i think i like them or not ?

    Like most threads and discussions on PN they always lead to the same tit for tat dribble,
    become personal and useless - maybe all nudes/porn should be banned, there's obviously
    enough masturbation going on in these forums already.
     
  47. getting back to some really cool photography now and I would like to hear your comments (porn or not) after looking over this site...
    Nic:
    I'd say most of it is soft porn of high technical proficiency, some of it fairly cheesy (whichever of my monitors I view it with!). If you compare to Araki -- and you have really to look at the best of Araki, since to just produces too much -- I think the point becomes clear. A couple of the B&Ws transcend the cheesy sotf porn level, but that's about it. I like your nudes a lot better, the one bending down to look out the windos comes to mind.
    --Mitch/Bangkok
     
  48. Nic, I should have added that a lot of it is kitsch, or perhaps kitschy-koo is more appropriate. Concerning the great technical proficiency of these pictures, perhaps its instructive to consider the following quote from Elliorr Erwitt that I just came across, lodged in the depths of my computer:
    Quality doesn't mean deep blacks and whatever tonal range. That's not quality, that's a kind of quality. The pictures of Robert Frank might strike someone as being sloppy--the tone range isn't right and things like that--but they're far superior to the pictures of Ansel Adams with regard to quality, because the quality of Ansel Adams, if I may say so, is essentially the quality of a postcard. But the quality of Robert Frank is a quality that has something to do with what he's doing, what his mind is. It's not balancing out the sky to the sand and so forth. It's got to do with intention.
    --Mitch/Bangkok
     
  49. thanks Mitch - I will Google Araki and check it out - I like this genre though, cheesy ? maybe,
    but I think that is sometimes the point. Porn ? hmmmmm, many shots are definetly arousing
    (my girlfriend agrees - the one bending down to look out the window - and thankyou for the
    compliment) - so is it the 'arousal' factor that constitutes porn ? Not that it really mattters,
    like you said from the beginning - 'judge nudes like other art' or not !
     
  50. "Hi Don, why do you even bother opening your web browser at all ???"

    I'm a website developer. It's my job.

    "...should i just dismiss them as little boxes of color and then ask you to print off some really big ones. send to me and then I'll let you know if i think i like them or not ?"

    I'd dismiss them if the intention is to critique. Otherwise, enjoy. If you critique, I can't take it seriously, having no idea what you are looking at.

    Read the Digital Darkroom forum for awhile and note how many posters are happy with their displays that are 6+2 bits, not 8, and who don't think it is necessary to calibrate. Consider that most browsers are installed with the default to resize images on the fly to the dimensions of the browser window. Or who prefer their 7 year old crt to a new lcd. Or whose computer is a laptop. This goes far to explain why they find blocked shadows and blown highlights in images you know have no such things.

    Print off 10 copies of a photo and mail them out. You can say with confidence that all 10 are "the same" photograph. But if you put up an image on the web, those 10 are each likely to see a different photograph.

    The real photos of the images in my workspace portfolio are either what I (or anyone looking over my shoulder) see in Lightroom on one of my computers, or a print.

    Even when I see my images in a browser, I am not seeing the photograph, just an image of it. I can line up the windows and compare the carefully prepared image for web display both in a browser and in Photoshop. They are already different.
     
  51. Nic, to tell you the truth I couldn't continue to look at those photos. A couple at the very begining were nothig if not nice shots of a beautiful girl but continuing on I might as well have bought myself a magazine from the local minute mart and flipped through pages of any attractive girl in mostly removed undies touching herself and making faces. How in the WORLD are those NOT porn? What is the point of a photo of a woman sticking her butt at you with her hand between her legs ON A BED in sexy undies if not to exite lust? A study in light on the human form? I dont think so. They may have the best lighting, be perfectly composed and have great tonal range and still be trash.

    If I'm going to take the time to stare at an image, I want to come away with something other than wet drawers.
     
  52. Well put, Nicole, and, as you can see from my earlier posting, I agree. But the issue is a
    difficult one because, in the case of Araki's best work, which is similar in subject matter, the
    kitsch and soft-porn is transcended into art. Mind you, I refer to his best work, not all his
    work. It is interesting to work out why Araki's best work does transcend this. Clearly, nudes
    don't have to be "artistic" and high-toned -- think of Weston -- to be art.

    --Mitch/Bangkok
     
  53. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    >>> 1.what makes a nude photo artistic and just that. <<<

    >>> 2.what are the differentiating elements between porn from art. <<<

    Answer 1. It is the eye of the beholder

    Answer 2. See answer 1

    This is not to trivialized the debate nor to demean any other`s answers or opinions.

    It is the bottom line from a working for 4 years on a paper dissecting the subject the Still Photography in Advertising from post Second World War to Present Day, which took into account the rapid onset of use of the sexualized image and much of what was `pornography` and the ever changing definition of it.

    Bottom line: it is really up to the viewer to decide.

    WW
     
  54. Mitch, you'll have to let me know what you think is his best stuff. I had a look at his gallery and there were a couple of nudes that were sentimental and some that were intimate and even a couple that almost seemed to be a social statement but others that were also just plain soft porn.

    Were there any in particular that seemed to transcend to you?
     
  55. jtk

    jtk

    Porn's honest. "Art" rarely is.
     
  56. Nicole: I went through his pictures quickly and have pretty much the same view as you do. I
    would have to go through them again to pick up the ones that were not soft porn, and am
    not inclined to do that as the effort is not really worth it. You'd probably pick the same ones
    that I would and, mind you, all they transcend, as I said, is in not being cheesy soft porn.

    --Mitch/Bangkok
     
  57. Porn's honest. "Art" rarely is.
    John:
    An important point: "Fine Art Nudes" are rarely, if ever, true -- and that is the reason I used the word "pretentious" in a posting above. I'd says "Fine art nudes are rarely honest", but wouldn't say this about art, because good art is honest -- if it didn't have truth it wouldn't be good art or art at all; and the latter depends on what you think is art.
    --Mitch/Bangkok
     
  58. Ah, alright Mitch I misunderstood a little. Yes, we are in agreement then.

    Sure, porn is honest. Honestly trashy.
     
  59. Nude art, porn, sports, morale - just words to whom anyone give a personal content. To me:<p>
    Nude art<br>
    A form study or an abstract study of human form, a study into the light on human form. The function is seldom to arouse sexually, but that can happen as a side effect. Very often the function is to create an aesthetic experience, to touch beauty visually.<p>
    Porno<br>
    Photographic material whose function is to cause arousement. This form of photography has a cast on it which makes it very difficult to see the photography in fair way. Knowing that sex is the most used word on the net search engines proves definitely there is a market and a function. In many ways I agree that porn is very honest. It's not pretending to be anything else what it is.<p>
    Of course categories are not black and white. Fashion and glamour photos are often very superficial and even hypocrite at times, often with elements of hidden porn. I guess that relates to voyerism. Talking of which, I think that some photos here in the nude category (e.g. those of John Peri's) represent voyeristic nude photography rather than nude art. It's not quite porn but it definitely is not a form study either.<p>
    Playing with words?
     
  60. "Porn's honest."

    Why is porn honest? What does "honest" mean here?
     
  61. Don E, I guess your question is rhetoric, but in case it is not, here is my explanation. You can do a nude art, lingerie or fashion shot pretending that you are doing something high art or classy where as you really have the motives in your sexual needs. You can easily lie to yourself about the motives behind you. With porno the name of the game is artless. A porn photo is a tool for sexual arousement, in blunt words, a stimulator for masturbation.<p>
    But again, it's playing with words. Honest means something to you, perhaps slightly another thing to me and something completely else to the next man.
     
  62. "Don E, I guess your question is rhetoric, but in case it is not..."

    It's not. So, you are saying the honesty lies in the conscious intent of the photographer, and (I'm guessing here) the photographer of pornography cannot not have the conscious intent of "stimulating sexual arousal" and no other unadmitted or unconscious motive, but the art nude, lingerie, or fashion photographer might be dishonest with herself and think her photographs don't do that or that they don't consider that aspect of their work consciously?

    That's a lot of peering into the motives of other photographers. I thought it might be something more objective, like the actual photographs. My tendency is to never give a thought to the photographer or their motives when viewing a photograph.
     
  63. "...and (I'm guessing here) the photographer of pornography cannot not have the conscious intent of "stimulating sexual arousal" and no other unadmitted or unconscious motive"<p>
    No, no, no. Exactly the other way around. A porn photographer openly admits he is shooting to create something for stimulation, or perhaps, stimulating himself. A nude art photographer can cheat himself here. Now, it does not mean every nude art photographer cheats himself. It merely says it is possible, whereas, in porno open sexual function is plain.
     
  64. Hi Juha. Thank you for breaking down Nude Art and Porn. As you did mention before about the intention of the photographer. I think part of the truth lies here but my opinion stands out for what the viewers of the photographs perceive. Beauty (Photography/Art) or Porn lies in the eye of the beholder.....my humble opinion. It is indeed a distinctive difference between the 2 but most of the time the viewer would clearly be able to differentiate between porn and nude art. Nic Bower's "tokyoundress" is a very good example for argument sake. Most of the photos in the site are clearly soft porn except a few which fall into the "grey area". However, most of the time it would be easy for the viewer of photographs to call a spade a spade.
     
  65. There is no consensus but there were some great posts.

    William Retired I think was the closest to how I feel.

    But all agruments seem to lead that porn is bad and can not be art. This I disagree with. And I'll step out on the plank and say I like porn, if it had no artistic merit, I wouldn't like it. Yes, there is some really bad porn.

    To sum my answer, the question is circular and has no answer.
     
  66. Juha, I understand the argument to be: honesty is applied to the photographer, and apparently a photographer of pornography cannot but be "honest", no matter his photographs are a total contrivance, 'dishonest' by other measures...dishonest the same way an art nude is dishonest, being a total contrivance as well, but may even be more dishonest because an nude art or (lingerie or fashion) photographer might also pretend the photo has no sexual element along with it being a total contrivance.

    I think I'll stick to considering honesty in terms of the photograph.
     
  67. I never understood the point of saying "X is in the eye of the beholder"... Of course it is, what matters is what is the thought process going on behind the eye and that is always worth discussing.

    It might be more interesting to ask what makes art - art, because the subject is not a differentiator as long as it is interesting.

    Real art has the potential of reaching people regardless of their life experience and beliefs. Of course, it cannot reach everyone all the time, but the potential exists. And this potential is due to it being able to stimulate thought without a prerequisite of specific knowledge related to some epoch and its habits.

    When it comes down to depictions of the naked body, the main question I would ask is: if we would live in a society where everyone walked around naked and sex would be a social activity like eating, what kind of interest would that work generate. If the answer is - only a passable interest, then we're not dealing with art. You could as well photograph a cabbage and it would generate the same sort of interest that nudes usually generate today, if exposed to people who never saw a nice, green, fresh cabbage. (Not to say you couldn't photograph a cabbage with the love and talent required to result in an amazing cabbage photograph appreciated by everyone till the end of time).

    Porn can be dismissed easily today as having nothing to do with art because you don't have to be artistic to make money in the porn business.

    No matter the subject, a real artist will find out a way of representing it in a way that generates interest.

    There is a twist of art that is polemic in purpose: it's not destined to last forever, but it's making a statement in a specific social context. There seem to always be more people involved in this transient art than in art, probably because it generates attention much faster, being particularly relevant to that moment. This isn't bad art, this is just art that will survive as long as the context in which it was created will still be relevant or remembered.
     
  68. Hi Laurentiu. Thanks for your thoughts. I do agree with you and realized what I stated means nothing i.e. "X lies in the eyes of the beholder" does not mean anything. It is indeed the thought process behind those eyes that see that makes discussions about art interesting indeed. I was merely stating the obvious that the eyes can tell the difference between porn and art most of the time. Thanks for sharing your thoughts once again. ~Gopi~
     
  69. Laurentiu, art is just a word and anyone give the word a content.<p>By the way a word like artefact means something done by human hands, my company is named Arteform - a derivation from artefact.
    Notice that the history of the art, artefacts. First they were functional stuff: vases, documentary to cave walls and only when the human being began to afford to be futile artefacts became pieces of no real everyday functionality. Today we conceive art being something with no border conditions. If it has no border conditions it's called design or engineering. Basically becauise of the historical derivatoin of teh word art I find the present concept of art pretty futile and discussion about what is art quite fruitless. These discussion usually tell more about the commentor than the subject because -art is a word to which anyone can give a personal content.
     
  70. "If it has no border conditions it's called design or engineering." <p>
    Should be of course:<br>
    If it has border conditions it's called design or engineering.
     
  71. i know porn when i see it.
     
  72. jtk

    jtk

    If one's hat stays on one's lap when one stands, it might be porn.
     
  73. Only, John, if one were a man. If a hat stayed on a womans lap, we might have cause for concern...
     
  74. jtk

    jtk

    Nicole, yes.

    Someone said romance novels were women's porn.

    Different strokes. :)
     
  75. The product of Fine Art photography, whether a nude or other, is a paper print, and not an online jpeg, magazine layout, advertisement, screensaver, calendar, or poster. The Fine Art photographer will either be a master printer as well or have a working relationship with one.

    Prior to photography the fine art format was an edition of prints of drawings (not paintings) and we have centuries worth of examples, including fine art pornography. I have not seen examples, but undoubtedly there are fine art pornography photographs.

    So, that jpeg may or may not be pornography, but what it cannot be in itself is what is traditionally known as fine art.
     
  76. jtk

    jtk

    Don, I don't buy your edicts :)

    The fabled Greeks, for what they're worth, reportedly* restricted "art" to performance: song, spoken word, dance, acting. Ephemeral, transient events. Sculpture and painted vases were too vulgar for "art", like Elvis on velvet. *email from Olympus

    Using "art" to describe a photograph means the image is decorative, belongs on a motel wall. Easy to apprehend. Ansel made art. I don't think Weston's work often slipped to that level.

    "Art" porn? Mapplethorpe. His work never rose above decorative, so I'm content if someone calls it art.
     
  77. Juha, if you read my post, I explained what I meant by art. True, I didn't explain it before my first use of the word, but if you read the entire response, my meaning should come forward. Yes, if you read just "art", it's just a word. If you read the rest, you'll see that a vase does most likely not qualify as art, unless it's a very interesting vase.

    And I beg to differ on the "no border" as an attribute of art - there are always borders inherent in the medium - film, sound, stone, etc. I think an artist knows how to maximize the output given the constraints he's working with. Chaplin worked with black and white and no sound, yet his movies will outlive most color/Dolby Surround works made in our days.
     
  78. I guess I don't understand your objections, John. I'm not making any edicts, just reporting the historic or traditional use of the term Fine Art.

    I have nothing to say about Art or "art", and couldn't care less. This may soothe you, and you should not feel compelled to object to my opinion on Art or "art", as I have none. I realize it is a major bug up your ass, though.

    Decorative Arts is another traditional or customary genre label, like Fine Art.
     
  79. jtk

    jtk

    Don, actually I'm fairly relaxed about that "bug." However I do, as a personal discipline, make the point when it seems appropriate. As an old guy, I think I'm entitled. As are you.

    You seem remarkably interested in categories and labels. Not a criticism.

    My thinking is similar to that of investment managers when they speak of "style drift" : "art" meant something magical fr centuries, even literally magical, but has drifted to "decor."

    BTW, did you get my email?
     
  80. ""art" meant something magical fr centuries, even literally magical, but has drifted to "decor.""

    But I do not discuss "art". Art is a subject for spectators, such as collectors, critics, gallery owners, museum curators, academics and their students. The photographer has no essential interest in them or their "art" unless they are prospects to buy his work. Then economics makes an essential connection.

    "You seem remarkably interested in categories and labels."

    You mean like "art" and "decor"?

    I got your email.
     
  81. John, thats very close to being true as so many romance novels are nearly lewd in their depictions of lovemaking. Still, I think you'd find less women pleasuring themselves physically from reading things like that. It's more of a mental exersize, I guess.
     
  82. jtk

    jtk

    Nicole, "close to being true" is truer than what's alleged to be "true" because the latter doesn't exist. What do you think?

    Don E, "Art" and "decor" are easily-apprehended and relatively-valid labels ....until one uses "art" for puffery of "decor," which is the dominant Photo.net practice. Sunsets, wet rocks with sunsets, nice nipples with wet rocks and sunsets. You know what I mean :)

    The photographers who most impress me use phrases like "fine print" and "well seen" and "shows promise" and "excessively Photoshopped." I don't notice them wasting the term "art." Do we disagree about that last point?

    Simple observations. Your mileage may vary.
     
  83. John, I've been answering the OP's two questions: "1.what makes a nude photo artistic and just that. 2.what are the differentiating elements between porn from art."

    Well, I'm only answering the first: all the "artistic" elements "and just that" are to be found in the traditional Fine Art Nude print. Photograph a non-Fine Art nude using those skills and you are likely to get an "artistic" result. The second I can't answer because I don't see why porn and art are exclusive. There certainly are examples of "artistic" pornography -- your Greek vases, for example. were the Greeks medium of choice for pornography, which were "artisitc" as art gets.
     
  84. jtk

    jtk

    Don, First, let me say that I think I've misunderstood or simply not understood some of what you've written. If it appears that way to you you're probably right, I apologize.

    Right, "fine art" and "porn" aren't exclusive concepts. I'm straight, but I'm thinking of some evocative gay porn by a photographer for "Blue Boy," a sort of Playboy that once existed. Infinitely stronger work than Mapplethorpe's and, despite my orientation, much more erotic than Hugh Heffner's magazine.

    As for those Greek vases..

    http://www.theoi.com/Galleries.html
     
  85. John, no need for apology. Online discussions are like that and this one has been difficult with several sidetracks. If you're interested in early Greek art and their "artistic" pornography look up the book Before Sexuality.

    Someone, here in a pnet forum awhile back, wrote that they found online porn stimulating, but only on a CRT, not on an LCD. I thought it a neat joke, but I wonder if there is any truth to it.

    Regards,

    Don
     
  86. Well, John, that depends on your world view I guess. Close to being true is generally the most we can expect, I suppose, but as to whether or not real truth exists...that might be a question better left to another thread where I wont get stones thrown at me...hopefully.
     
  87. "I have come across many occasions where I have contemplated if the photo I am looking at is an amazing artistic creation of an experienced
    photographer or simply porn"

    Lucky fellow! Would you mind posting a link to these naughty pix please?

    When *I* look at other people's work on PN it's either dogs or kids...
     
  88. The way modern arts need an explanation, Even our brain should be educated to see good things also.
    It is not necessary to find porn in nudity.
    Some psychos can find it even when completely dressed.
    Its what you see and what you think of the subject.
    Nudity are always fun to see if they are presently well.
     
  89. I think that romance novels are most definitely porn. They generally have no believable storyline, or storyline at all except that which leads up to the "main event", the sexual encounter which occurs dependably in the latter one-third of the book. This is, of course, so that one can easily skip ahead to the good stuff. Also, they lack any real character development. The woman is a victim type, who the book repeatedly tells us is strong, but we see no evidence of that. We are also beaten over the head with how attractive, intelligent, kind, and desirable she is, like an antifeminist mantra: This is how all women should be if they want to get the guy. And the male character? He is always a protector, and frequently masquerades as a cad and womanizer during the first one-third of the book, because everyone knows that women love badboys. The sex scene itself generally occurs in a fashion reminiscent of a rape.
    Okay, so it might seem as though I am going off on a tangent here. But I believe that nude photography can be examined in a similar way. Is the photographer taking advantage of his model? Is there sexual exploitation? Is there oppression of a certain group of people? (It is pretty naive to say that models for porn are generally in it for their own enjoyment. Usually there is something else at play, such as a desire for attention.) Is there violence, either real or threatened? Is there an obvious metaphor in the work that serves to degrade the model? (An example is an older issue of Hustler that depicted cockroaches crawling around a woman's vagina.) Unfortunately, we can't always know the answers to all of these questions just by looking at the image. But, as photographers, I think that we can set our own limits by asking ourselves, "If I had children, would I be comfortable with them seeing this: 1. at the appropriate age? 2. EVER?"
     
  90. I wasn't going to respond. I am not a great photographer but I have an opinion.

    I disagree with anyone who tries to answer this question with a simple 'yay' or 'nay'. You cannot classify art, that is to say, one man's art is another man's garbage. Darnit, there are even artists who pile up real, stinky, rotting garbage and call it art - and to them and their admirers, it IS art.

    If you are interested in taking photos of people unclothed, or any other subject, do whatever suits your taste. If you do it without thinking about what the critics will have to say about it then you are expressing your SELF, and thus creating art.
     
  91. This is a question that government's, the clergy and academics have been asking, seemingly forever. Interpretation of the 1st amendment has opened the doors to a flood of questionable images to be legally printed and openly distributed in the U.S. But what exactly is what is a questionable image?
    For puritanical Americans, a photo of a woman's belly button is objectionable. For more liberal Europeans, the nude body doesn't present any problems. If reared in many "3rd world countries" exposed genitalia is commonplace. Thus, questionable images appear to be regional.
    I watched a film some time ago that for all intents and purposed could have been classified as pornography. It was high contrast B&W and beautifully filmed. For all intents it was a figure study. A tour de force of the female body. The camera lens never got further away from the subject than 6 inches. It panned the entire body, every square cm. very, very slowly effectively using shadows to subdue and highlight
    the more 'visually delicate' areas of her body. Her curves were transformed into landscapes of hills, mountains and valleys. The background music was a neo-classical piece performed by cello, viola and violin. It was done by a student at UCLA and was eliminated from the venue of a student film fest after the first day. Too controversial. "Pornographic trash" one reviewer said. I thought it was beautiful. We are treated with murder and mayhem all day long in the media. We are subjected to 'Girls Gone Wild', on late night cable infomercials. At any news stand we can get copies of 'free' hip, urban liberal weeklies whose back pages consist of ads for massage parlors, out call services, men seeking men, women seeking women, men seeking men & women and any combination there of.
    As to the exploitation of women, which is a very big argument against porn. If a woman is kidnapped, held hostage and forced to perform sex acts on film. The kidnappers should be shot in the head. If a woman, or man for that matter, accepts money to perform sexually, on camera or if they do it simply because they want to, That's not exploitation. If a man and woman ( or any combination there of ) don't mind being filmed or photographed while having a sexual encounter, then that's their business. If someone wants to pay to see or own that film or photo, then that's their business as well.
    I consider myself a relatively normal, well adjusted individual. I love women. They generally look, feel, and smell good. I enjoy their attitudes, their way of thinking. They generally smile more than men and are more pleasant to be around. They're more outgoing and honest than men. They're usually a joy to be around. I suppose this make me a sexist pig in today's politically correct world, so be it. I also think sex with women is great. Guess I'm a pervert too. It's virtually impossible for me to look at a photo of a nude woman and be offended. I suppose it's possible for a woman to have the same opinion about photos of nude men??? I find many photos of fully clothed women can be as sexually stimulating as raw porn, at if well done, sometimes even more so. Sex simply isn't a bad thing. We probably all partake in it and I'd venture to say, the vast majority of us enjoy it. Why do insist on denying it's existence and why are we so hypocritical about it. Why not just accept it as a pleasant part the human experience and deal with real issues.
    There's a fairly famous photo from the Vietnam era of a man holding a pistol to another man's head. The photo is taken just as the man with the gun fires into the other man, killing him ( I assume ). A frozen moment in time that is the very last moment in someones life. That is Pornography...
     

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