The implications

Model: Sacriel – Photographer: Me

I’ve spent nearly 50 days at home and I finally got round to writing a new blog post. The most important thing I’ve learnt this lockdown is that lack of time is not why I don’t do things, it’s because I just don’t get around to them.

Anyway, I’ve found something that I really want to write about. This morning I received an email from a photographer for an implied nude photography course. What surprised me was the incongruity between the title and the image which accompanied it. The image showed a completely nude model, albeit with her back to the camera and her left arm and leg outstretched, her arm covering her breast, and an artistic use of shadow to leave a lot to the imagination (I don’t want to show the image here as my point is about the definition of the term). This was not the kind of image I was expecting to see related to implied nude photography, for me, an implied nude is exactly that: nudity which is implied but is not actually shown. 

The online Cambridge dictionary says “if something is implied, it is understood to be true or to exist, although it is not stated directly or in a legal agreement”. If you are showing a nude subject, then it’s a nude. It could be an artistic nude, an SFW nude, a boudoir nude or a pornographic nude, but there is absolutely nothing implied about the nudity, it is there and explicitly shown for everyone to see.

So, the first thing I did was turn to Google and type in ‘implied nude photography’ and I was very surprised by the number of completely nude images under the title of implied nude. I had a look in a forum where photographers were discussing whether a model who had agreed to do implied nude shots should be expected to remove all of their clothing. If I agreed, as a model, to do an implied nude shoot, I would not be expecting to strip any further than my underwear. However, more than fifty percent of the people on the forum post stated clearly that they expected a model to strip off to do implied nude work, which I think this is a very negative thing for photography.

Calling things by their correct name is important when we are dealing with people we don’t know because it helps to avoid misunderstanding. That’s why we use contracts. Imagine that a young female model is booked for a shoot with a photographer. She turns up and suddenly the photographer is expecting her to take off all her clothes, that would be quite a shock and I think she would be justified in feeling exploited and pressured. Photography already suffers from quite a poor image due to  professional people working in the industry, whether photographers or people associated with management. Then there are all the people who want to see someone nude, or believe they can pressure a vulnerable person into doing what they want, so they buy a camera and call themselves a photographer.

I won’t mention the photographer who is offering the course as I don’t think they should be singled out, I have found other photographers offering similar courses. I am in no way suggesting, and have no reason to believe, that they are anything other than professional at all times. It’s the lack of accuracy surrounding the term that bothers me. If you want to discover for yourself, just type implied nude photography into Google and take a look.

There will be always arguments about whether something is artistic or just titillating, whether it’s glamour or porn, but one of the easiest things is to know when something is implied or explicit, and explicit, when used in photography clearly illustrates the difference regarding implied.

By the way, I’m not against nudity, the human body is beautiful to look at, with or without clothes. I hate not being able to show a female nipple on social media, it’s a stupid rule. Yes, it can be something sexual, but so can many things in your kitchen drawer if you have the imagination. 

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