Meg, Explicitly — and Then An Anna Nicole Digression

Meg 17

Meg did not like explicit photography. She felt her “female bits” were unattractive, and just did not like “spread” photography of herself. The above is about as explicit as she would allow. The few times I photographed her with legs open even wider, I lit her carefully so that sensitive areas were in deep shadow.

Models have widely varying attitudes, I have found. Some like Meg have no per se objection to the photography; they just don’t want it done of themselves. The first time a model and I work when a photo is about to be taken in which her genitalia are either exposed or at least partially visible, I tell her and ask her attitude. Some shrug their shoulders. Others change their pose. The model’s decision sets limitations (or lack thereof) for our photography from that point onward.

Personally, I consider it a natural body feature, and a legitimate part of the fine art nude genre. At times, it may be a dominant feature in the photography; at others it is not at all present. Of course, because of sexual and erotic context, one is always aware that inclusion may take more chaste fine art nudes over into the erotic sub-category. On a very few occasions I have focused photography in that direction. Usually it’s because the model wants to explore that sub-theme.

We may revisit this topic in the future. (I rather expect it is a subject of interest to at least some readers.)


A minor digression on women, bodies and labor:

The death this past week of Anna Nicole Smith gave me pause, long enough to consider those among women who earn their living with their bodies. The extreme of this condition is of course the prostitute. That ancient, seldom honored, yet persistent profession is the ultimate case of literally selling one’s body. Next up the approval scale are porn stars. Somewhere up the scale from there are women whose bodies are a primary source of income, such as super models and Playboy Playmates.

Our own much honored and much treasured fine art nude models fall somewhat short of the list, fortunately I think for them. Few if any fine art nude models can truly earn what would be considered a living wage from their modeling. We are fortunate that most are holding down the proverbial “day job,” and model out of dedication to their (and our) art.

Anna Nicole, when she inhabited a merchantable body, sold herself rapidly and widely. When she did not, she suffered, for between her substance abuse and lack of innate wit, her mind served her ill. We were all witnesses, and judging from the media and her hangers-on, witnesses all too willing to gawk and ridicule when occasions arose. For her own sake, and even more her daughter’s, it is truly too bad she is gone. In the end, however, perhaps ironically, her body continues to earn its keep — through its issue. The poor infant will earn a very healthy income for legions of attorneys for many years to come.

For another take on this issue, see yesterday’s excellent NY Times article by Caryn James.

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