Of Beauty, Erotic Art and Humanity

Many if not most modern humans live in a real world that is marked by dull routine and a gray dullness. It’s not that there is not beauty around us, it’s just the demands of simple existence and obligations push these things into the background. We also suffer from the inability to see the extraordinary in those things with which we have regular contact. Such is the human condition that begs for novelty to shake us from our daily existence.


Artist, in my view, are those who can see through that fog and bring into focus the beauty of those things in the world, capture that image and then share it with others. Certainly it takes technical skill to create art; painting, music composition, poetic techniques, photographic lighting, etc. However, that skill is only a means, the heart of art is the ability to see, feel or imagine something of beauty.

For the painter or the poet, the art they create naturally transforms the thing seen by the pedestrian into the beautiful image seen by the artist. Their technical skills allow them to strip away the superfluous parts and leave just the beauty the artist saw in his mind’s eye. The prose writer or the photographer must use their skill to transcend those items of reality that distract or degrade their image into the thing of beauty she seeks to preserve.

I think this is one of my very best images. Its simplicity captures Vivian's youthful beauty.


I write all of this in regard to the images we see on the web. All too much, perhaps 95% of the nudity and/or erotica that is presented on line is simply not ascetically pleasing. I would suggest that that is because few of the photographers even attempt to create an image of beauty. Certainly the human form is beautiful as is the intimate relations between lovers; however, via the medium of photography it is all too easy to substitute a young pretty model or people engaged in a sexual act for an image of beauty in its own right. Thus, a cheap and tawdry imitation of the beauty of people and their relationships has all but drowned the real thing.


When several years ago, the internet began to feature sites and blogs by people who seek to find and pass on images by artists who share my appreciation of beautiful images of people and passion I saw this as a positive development. Right now might well be called the golden age of artistic erotic photography. My only concern is that nearly all of these artists take the easy road by using young and intrinsically attractive people as subjects. They seem to assume that is enough to make an image worth sharing. By all but excluding “normal” people from erotic images we feed the criticism that erotic photography degrades normal people and their sexuality.


By almost exclusively creating and sharing nude images of young pretty girls, the case is made that only young pretty girls are worth photographing in the nude.


When I was shooting nudes & erotica professionally, I had no intention of simply creating a snapshot of the model/couple. Rather, I first composed in my mind a clear concept of the unseen part of the person or couple. From there I shaped the stage, the background and the lighting to accentuate the story and obscure distractions. Yes I said story. Every good piece of art is a story. The narrative comes mostly from the artist but it also is impacted by the model(s), but it is a story none the less. The story is important because as an artist I seek to tell stories that uplift the human spirit.


However, most nude and sexual images on the web fail to even try to say something important. They fail to uplift the viewer with a vision of humanity as something more than gray and gritty. We turn from art to mere voyeurism when we fail to consider that an image of a nude individual or couple engaged in sexual relations as rich expression of life’s hidden beauty. By unmooring erotica from its human roots and creating the false and harmful message that the beauty is only in showing skin, or even worse that sexuality is cheap and tawdry we arm the sex-negatives who seek to suppress erotica.


I took this image of this couple making love an a way that emphasizes the humanity of the couple, not just the mechanics of sex.

I wish I could be positive and think that erotic art would supplant porn, but I doubt that will happen anytime soon. However that does not mean that I can't continue to make and promote images that make our world a better place.

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