Taboo or acceptable?

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by rds, Jun 16, 2016.

  1. rds


    My question is: Is it taboo or acceptable to photographing close relatives such as daughters, sons, nieces, nephews or cousins in very sensitive photography such as lingerie/boudoir semi-nude and nude?

    I recently found a photographer from Italy whose work was interesting to me. I always read the photographer's portfolio as I'm interested in learning about fellow photographers, especially photographers from other countries. This photographer list the usual information in his portfolio. One thing that caught my attention was the model in his nude photo album was his adult daughter. I was wondering if this is more prominent than we know. Please give your thoughts and ideals on the subject.
  2. Opinions will vary depending on locations. My parents did full nudes of me as a baby. - I'm aware that is an American taboo but I am elsewhere.
    I assume it can be a win win deal for both family members to do TFP nudes or baudoir stuff? - The daughter gets good pictures from the most trustworthy shutterbug she'll ever meet and will shine brighter on those than if she used arms' length selfies to attract her next husband?
    But my opinion barely matters. - If I was planning such, I'd always ask the mother's permission / attitude, maybe even censorship, and treat the model like any other (too) young lady.
    Also ask yourself what exactly you are doing: Is there erotic sparkling so bright that it might hurt your family's reputation or are you doing abstract art / documentary?
  3. There is no authoritative answer to this. In the "world of art photography" one need look no further than Sally Mann, Jock Sturges, or Harry Callahan to find examples of what you have described.
    Some were shocked, offended and outraged by them as well, particularly over Mann's photographs of her pre-adolescent children. On a personal level I could not do this but I do not sit in judgment of those who do. Jochen Schrey mentions the "erotic" element and I think that can come into play. Is the intent truly artistic in nature, or does titillation come into play? Even when the intent is truly artistic, there are always viewers who seek it out strictly for erotic content.
  4. Fortunately, both my brother and I were both only children, so the question of sibling photography never came up.
    In America, as a general rule, any kind of erotic actions are supposed to limited to within the same age grade (see the anthropological documentary, The Graduate)
  5. Acceptable !
    None of our business to judge such matters which belong to local morals and traditions. If it bothers you personally : don't look at the photos.
  6. All you're going to get is a bunch of different opinions, so I am not sure what you expect to learn, other than different people have different outlooks. No surprise there.
  7. For me, it's all down to a personal level of (dis)comfort, be it as a photographer, be it as a viewer.
    As a viewer, I can still choose to value the photo on its merits as an image (not considering the relation between photographer as a subject), and keep it at that. As a photographer.... personally, I would not, but that's my level of comfort. To each his/her own.
  8. My question is: Is it taboo or acceptable to photographing close relatives such as daughters, sons, nieces, nephews or cousins in very sensitive photography such as lingerie/boudoir semi-nude and nude?​
    acceptable to some, taboo to others. What does the OP think?
  9. Agree. It seems a bit creepy to me, but others may disagree. Similar to the "child beauty" pageants we see on reality TV where little kids appear highly sexualized for "judgment", I find them decidedly off, but some see nothing wrong with them. Graham Greene had some interesting things to say about the young Shirley Temple and her success too, so these ethical/taste dilemmas are not all that young.
  10. I think the connections of art, ethics, and taste are fascinating. The one thing I usually resist in this area is certainty. Often, the more certain one is about these things, the more holier-than-thou and off putting. Honestly, though, I do occasionally find myself in a position of judging something immoral. More often, I find myself being ambivalent and sometimes hold very contradictory opinions on it.
    While I still may condemn some photography as immoral, most of the time I find some of the best photography to be that which confronts me with political, ethical, and aesthetic dilemmas. I want to be provoked and I want to be made to think. I often want to be shaken up. When a photographer shakes up a community, even if that community decides to roundly decry the work, if something gets out in the open which has previously been kept hidden or accepted as taboo, it's usually a good thing. Art has often put a lens on taboos, sometimes rightly overturning them. That doesn't happen without at least some artists taking risks and pushing things quite far, inevitably sometimes too far for some and even for me.
  11. rds


    Barry Fisher: If you're referring to me as "the OP" and want to know what I think. I think it's a real touchy subject. I think that if it is agreeable between adults I would be willing to probably accept it. I say probably because I can't really say unless I was actually put in the position of photographing a close relative such as a daughter, niece, or aunt etc. etc. It would also depend on the reasoning for the photography. What I mean by that is, I might be willing to photograph a close relative if they needed to build a modeling portfolio for a professional reason. It would all depends on the circumstances. I don't really have a moral problem with the ideal of photographing a cousin or more distant relative. In general I think Fred G's post pretty well says it for me.
    More of my thoughts and opinion are as follows. I don't really know or have any substantiated facts but I believe most photographers start out with wives or girlfriends as their sensual, sexual or erotic subjects. I also think it is very possibly that there is a lot more photography between consenting cousins, brothers and sisters these days with the availability of digital cameras. People no longer have to worry about having their film developed and being seen by prying eyes. Therefore I personally believe there is probably more socially unacceptable photography going on then we will ever know... That is some of my thoughts and opinions.
  12. I think that it's okay to photograph people naked no matter what their age. However, the concept of boudoir implies something that probably should be reserved for adults. I understand that in Robert's example, this was indeed the case. So for me, zero problems.
    Jochen makes a good point: a woman can - or should - trust either of her parents to shoot her that way, if both parties are in agreement. Lee Miller's father shot her nude when she was an adult. I don't know what the motivations were.
    Me, I am not sure if I could shoot my own kids naked (if I had any), especially if they were adults, as I think there should be a level of separation between the subject and the photographer. I could probably take good photos of other kids, though, if that ever came up. That's just my psyche, YMMV.
  13. My opinion: Nude and erotic photography are two different things. Nude photography of anyone is OK with all the right permissions. Erotic photography of minors and relatives is not OK. If I were doing nude or erotic, I would obtain written (or app based) model releases, just in case.
  14. rds


    I want to thank everyone for their opinions and thoughts. Robert
  15. To me the answer is to recognise that there are vast differences in the view of children and sexuality between the Anglo-American world and continental Europe (and even vaster differences between the Western world and Islam). This is illustrated quite well by the current Clement Freud scandal here in England, where CF (grandson of Sigmund) behaved in a way unremarkable by the standards of central European Bohemians but utterly scandalous by contemporary British standards. An earlier post mentions Lee Miller, who illustrates the dichotomy involved - she was brought up to regard nudity as normal but was then raped by a family "friend" at the age of 10 or so, acquiring in the process an STI which required, pre-penicillin, painful and protracted mercury treatment.
    The law in England (recently revised) states that it is illegal to make sexual images (de facto defined defined as showing genitalia) of anyone younger than 18. Even then, photographers should proceed with caution - one step over a line which you may not know even exists and the puritans will be forming a lynch mob before you can blink!
  16. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    “All you're going to get is a bunch of different opinions, so I am not sure what you expect to learn, other than different people have different outlooks.“​
    I think that if one reads and then if one actively considers “a bunch of different opinions”, there can be much to learnother than different people have different outlooks”.

  17. "My question is: Is it taboo or acceptable to photographing close relatives such as daughters, sons, nieces, nephews or cousins in very sensitive photography such as lingerie/boudoir semi-nude and nude?"

    In this country(USA) they are pretty strict about child photography. Usually you need the parents consent to post pictures of children for commercial purposes whether on line, or splattered on some bill board . When it comes to sensitive poses even if you are the parent you might be judged harshly by social media or society as a whole.

    Just look what happened to Will Smith an American actor whose 9 year old daughter was photographed in a semi-provocative position with an older man who the Smith family considered a family friend. Nevertheless, the criticism was swift and harsh. Not only that, due to the Child-pornography laws in this country and others, you are sure to raise the Feds eyebrows when it come to these types of picture. Even if they are your own children or relatives you are really taking a chance..
  18. rds


    I guess I should've been clear on the age of the models I was referring to for this form. I was referring only to adults, 18+ years of age. There is absolutely no way I condone using minors/children as nude, semi-nude, erotic etc. etc. etc.... Sorry if I miss led or was misunderstood.
  19. There is no clear definitive issue but I suggest that it boils
    down to the statement "you know it when you see it". An
    episode of the "Good Wife" gave a very good treatment of this

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