As a gay guy working in a sector of the adult entertainment industry, I have become quite accustomed to the sight of naked or scantily clad women of all ages and body types. As a photographer, I appreciate the female form, but it does not have the same sort of effect on me that it has on many of my friends and colleagues.
On the balance, I'm glad about that. Too many of the photos I see of attractive young women in sparse or non-existent clothing leave me concerned as a human being and puzzled as an artist.
It is possible to take incredibly sexy and artistically sound photographs of nude/barely clothed women. While not something that I excel at by any means, there are artists I know and admire who do so on a regular basis. What's more, they do so without leaving the viewer with the feeling that the artist saw the model as nothing more than a piece of meat.
To be clear, this is not an issue of subject matter or even precisely of composition. I'm friends with a west coast photographer named Hypnox, who rose to prominence as a stripper photographer and today specializes in erotic studio nudes. His subjects come across as people first, which is a reflection of how he treats the people he works with.
However, far too many artists' work convey the exact opposite. Instead, the viewer is left feeling that the person composing the image saw their model only as a tool for their own personal arousal and/or artistic edification. I know that with some photographers I've encountered, this impression is entirely accurate. I wouldn't feel comfortable hearing someone talk about livestock the way some photographers talk about the women who model for them.
Then there is the issue of the image itself.
Throw a naked woman into a shot, and some people forget the importance of taking a good photograph. Instead, photographers rely on the beauty of their model, and the fact that said model is naked or barely clothed, to draw the eye and dominate the experience of the viewer. This ignores the fact that not every person who looks at their photo will be a someone attracted to women, or intrigued by nudity for that matter.
If a picture isn't interesting, well composed, well lit, and well processed, throwing a naked woman into the frame isn't going to magically salvage it. Thinking that it will is disrespectful to the model, and in some ways to the photographer as well.
Photo ©2013 E. Wintersong Tashlin, All Rights Reserved