Nudity, Nipples or TMI in Your Photos
February 22, 2011
TRUE CONFESSION: I am NOT trying to sell a new car, TV, or any other consumer product with the allure of sex. But is this tactic from consumer advertising as effective in the art and craft community?
Recently during the photo series on ASK Harriete the subject of nudity, nipples, or TMI ("too much information") in photos of jewelry, clothing, and small objects was raised by a number of readers.
Andy Cooperman commented about the juror's dilemma when judging photography submissions. "While jurying exhibitions, I have invariably come across images in which the work (usually a neckpiece) is featured frontally on a nude (usually female) model. "
Sterling Silver, Copper, 18k
© Curtis Arima
He continues, "While this offers certain benefits, it is most often a turnoff to me as a juror because I feel that there is a manipulative aspect to the image. Am I responding to the work or to the body? Am I responding as a man or as a juror? The work had better be VERY good for me to get past this feeling and accept it. No one wants to feel that they are being manipulated."
and "ball and chain necklace"
Sterling silver, and 18k gold
© Curtis Ariman
Brigitte Martin from Crafthaus added: "Andy's point regarding the choice of model and how much skin is revealed to manipulate a buyer or jury is spot on. I would not put certain 'tactics' above some artists. In a world loaded with information, why not add a little something to be noticed... I am sure it is done on purpose. "
She adds: "Can I as an artist use this to my advantage? Should I be employing this technique at all? Is it ethical and under which circumstances does this work? Most importantly, when and where does it not work? Oh boy, what a can of worms."
I agree with both Brigitte and Andy. From my perspective, the nude in a photograph of jewelry, clothing, or three-dimensional objects is problematic for lots of reasons.
Sterling silver, 18k
© Curtis Arima
Considering the difficulty of getting a great shot with the model that does NOT distract from your art or craft, is it better to focus on the work with less of the body, nudity, or nipples? At what point is the model distracting or enhancing?
What do you think?
Is this TMI?
Thank you to Curtis Arima who has allowed images of his work to be used in this post on ASK Harriete.
Find more of Curtis Arima's work at his website or visit his studio at: the SawTooth Building, 2547 8th Street Studio 30B, Berkeley, CA 94710.
This post was updated on January 27, 2022.