World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Nude photography

Article Id: WHEBN0014016381
Reproduction Date:

Title: Nude photography  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Nudity, More Demi Moore, Nude photography (art), Mary Willumsen, Glamour photography
Collection: Nude Photography, Nudity
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Nude photography

Nude photography is any photograph which contains an image of a nude or semi-nude person, or an image suggestive of nudity. The exhibition or publication of nude photographs may be controversial, more so in some cultures or countries than in others, and especially if the subject is a minor. Most nude photographs are made for private use and intended to be viewed only by the subject and their current partner. Most nude photography has traditionally featured female subjects; male subjects are more rarely exhibited.[1]


  • Educational 1
  • Commercial 2
    • Erotic 2.1
    • Glamour 2.2
    • Advertising 2.3
    • Entertainment 2.4
    • Music album covers 2.5
  • Fine art 3
    • History 3.1
      • 19th century 3.1.1
      • Modern 3.1.2
      • Contemporary 3.1.3
  • See also 4
  • Notes 5
  • References 6
  • Further reading 7


Nude photographs may be used for scientific and educational purpose, such as ethnographic studies, human physiology or sex education. In this context, the emphasis of the photograph is not on the subject, or the beauty or eroticism of the image, but on the educational or demonstrative purpose for which the image was produced.

The nude image may be used for analysis or to accompany medical or other text books, scientific reports, articles or research papers.[2] They are essentially of an illustrative nature, and so nude photographs of this type are often labeled to show key features in a supporting context.



Since the first days of photography, the nude was a source of inspiration for those that adopted the new medium. Most of the early images were closely guarded or surreptitiously circulated as violations of the social norms of the time, since the photograph captures real nudity. Many cultures, while accepting nudity in art, shun actual nudity. For example, even an art gallery which exhibits nude paintings will typically not accept nudity in a visitor.[3] Alfred Cheney Johnston (1885 – 1971) was a professional American photographer who often photographed Ziegfeld Follies.[4] He also maintained his own highly successful commercial photo studio, producing magazine ads for a wide range of upscale retail commercial products—mostly men's and women's fashions—and also photographed several hundred artists and showgirls, including nude photographs of some. Most of his nude images (some named, mostly anonymous) were, in fact, showgirls from the Ziegfeld Follies, but such daring, unretouched full-frontal images would certainly not have been openly publishable in the 1920s-1930s, so it is speculated that these were either simply his own personal artistic work, and/or done at the behest of Flo Ziegfeld for the showman's personal enjoyment.


Glamour photographs emphasize the subject, usually female, in a romantic and most attractive, sexually alluring manner. The subject may be fully clothed or semi-nude, but glamour photography stops short of intentionally sexually arousing the viewer and being pornographic. Before about the 1960s, glamour photography was commonly referred to as erotic photography.


Nudity and sexually suggestive imagery is common in modern-day culture and widely used in advertising to help sell products. A feature of this form of advertising is that the imagery used typically has no connection to the product being advertised. The purpose of the such imagery is to attract the attention of a potential customer or user. The imagery used may include nudity, actual or suggestive, and glamour photography.


Nude or semi-nude imagery is also widely used in entertainment, sometimes referred to as adult entertainment. This may be in the form of postcards, pin ups, and other formats.

Covers of mainstream magazines sometimes include images of nude or semi-nude subjects. In the early 1990s, Demi Moore posed for two covers of Vanity Fair: Demi's Birthday Suit and More Demi Moore. Some magazines, such as men's magazines, commonly feature nude or semi-nude images, and some magazines have created a reputation for their nude centrefolds.

Music album covers

Music album covers often incorporate photography, at times including nude or semi-nude images. Albums covers that have incorporated nudity have included those of performers such as Jimi Hendrix (Electric Ladyland, 1968), John Lennon and Yoko Ono (Unfinished Music No. 1: Two Virgins, 1968), Nirvana, Blind Faith (Blind Faith, 1969), Scorpions (Virgin Killer, 1976) and Jane's Addiction (Nothing's Shocking, 1988). The covers for Blind Faith and Virgin Killer were especially controversial because the nude image was that of prepubescent girls, and were re-issued with alternative covers in some countries.

Fine art

The emphasis of fine arts is aesthetics and creativity; and any erotic interest, although often present, is secondary.[5] This distinguishes nude photography from both glamour photography and pornographic photography. The distinction between these is not always clear, and photographers tends to use their own judgment in characterizing their own work,[6][7][8] though viewers also have their judgement. The nude remains a controversial subject in all media, but more so with photography due to its inherent realism.[9] The male nude has been less common than the female, and more rarely exhibited.[1]


Photograph by Jean Louis Marie Eugène Durieu, Part of a series made with Eugène Delacroix 
Odalisque (1857) by Eugène Delacroix, a painting with similar pose 
Photograph by Jean Louis Marie Eugène Durieu, circa 1855 

19th century

Early fine-art photographers in Western cultures, seeking to establish photography as a fine art medium, frequently chose women as the subjects for their nudes, in poses that accorded with traditional practice in other media. Before nude photography, art nudes usually used allusions to classical antiquity; gods and warriors, goddesses and nymphs. Poses, lighting, soft focus, vignetting and hand retouching were employed to create photographic images that were comparable to the other arts at that time.[9] Although 19th century artists in other media often used photographs as substitutes for live models, the best of these photographs were also intended as works of art in their own right.[9]

Historical Images
Nude by Gaudenzio Marconi, 19th Century 
Nude by Gaudenzio Marconi, 1841-1885 
Adam and Eve by Frank Eugene, taken 1898, published in Camera Work no. 30, 1910 
Georgia O’Keeffe, Hands and Breasts (1919) by Alfred Stieglitz 


After Edward Weston,[10] Imogen Cunningham,[11] Ruth Bernhard, Harry Callahan, Emmet Gowin and Edward Steichen continued this trend. Weston evolved a particularly American aesthetic, using a large format camera to capture images of nature and landscapes as well as nudes, establishing photography as a fine arts medium. In 1937 Weston became the first photographer to be awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship.[12] For a famous example of Weston's work see: Charis Wilson. Many fine art photographers have a variety of subjects in their work, the nude being one. Diane Arbus was attracted to unusual people in unusual settings, including a nudist camp. Lee Friedlander had more conventional subjects, one being Madonna as a young model.[13]


The distinction between fine art and glamour is often one of marketing, with fine art being sold through galleries or dealers in limited editions signed by the artist, and glamour photos being distributed through mass media. For some, the difference is in the gaze of the model, with glamour models looking into the camera, while art models do not.[14] Glamour and fashion photographers have aspired to fine art status in some of their work. One of the such photographer was Irving Penn, who progressed from Vogue magazine to photographing fashion models such as Kate Moss nude. Richard Avedon, Helmut Newton and Annie Leibovitz[15] have followed a similar path with portraits of the famous, many of them nude.[16] or partially clothed.[17] In the post-modern era, where fame is often the subject of fine art,[18] Avedon's photo of Nastassja Kinski with a python, and Leibovitz's magazine covers of Demi Moore pregnant and in body paint, have become iconic. The work of Joyce Tenneson has gone the other way, from fine art with a unique, soft-focus style showing woman at all stages of life to portraiture of famous people and fashion photography.

Although nude photographers have largely worked within established forms that show bodies as sculptural abstractions, some, such as Robert Mapplethorpe, have created works that deliberately blur the boundaries between erotica and art.

Several photographers have become controversial because of their nude photographs of underage subjects.[19] David Hamilton often used erotic themes,[20] but Jock Sturges celebrates the beauty of people in naturist settings without emphasis on sexuality.[21] Sally Mann was raised in rural Virginia, in a locale where skinny-dipping in a river was common, so many of her most famous photographs are of her own children swimming in the nude.[22] Less well-known photographers have been charged as criminals for photos of their own children.[23]

Body image has become a topic explored by many photographers working with models whose bodies do not conform to conventional prejudices about beauty.[24]

Nude Photo
Nudes (1980) by Augusto De Luca 
Nude Photo
Nu artistique féminin (2011) by Jean-Christophe Destailleur 

See also


  1. ^ a b Weiermair and Nielander
  2. ^ "Scientific Photographer". Creative Skillset. Retrieved 1/6/2013. 
  3. ^ Brian K. Yoder. "Nudity in Art: A Virtue or Vice?". Retrieved 30 October 2013. 
  4. ^ [showgirlsJazz Age Beauties: The Lost Collection of Ziegfeld Photographer Alfred Cheney Johnston, by Robert Hudovernik (New York, NY: Universe Publishing/Rizzoli International Publications, 2006, HB, 272pp.)]
  5. ^ Clark, Chapter 1: The Naked and the Nude
  6. ^ Rosenthal,Karin. "About My Work". Retrieved 12/11/2012. 
  7. ^ Schiesser, Jody. "Silverbeauty - Artist Statement". Retrieved 12/11/2012. 
  8. ^ Mok, Marcus. "Artist's Statement". Retrieved 12/11/2012. 
  9. ^ a b c "Naked before the Camera". Metropolitan Museum of Art. 
  10. ^ Conger
  11. ^ Cunningham
  12. ^ "Edward Weston Photographs". Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona Libraries. 
  13. ^ "Nude photo of Madonna goes for $37,500". CNN. 02-12-2009. 
  14. ^ Conrad,Donna (2000), "A Conversation with Ruth Bernhard", Vol. 1 No. 3 (PhotoVision) 
  15. ^ "Exhibitions: Annie Leibovitz: A Photographer's Life, 1990–2005". The Brooklyn Museum. Retrieved 10 November 2012. 
  16. ^ Jones, Jonathan (8 February 2006). "Not naked but nude". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 12 November 2012. 
  17. ^ "Miley Knows Best". Vanity Fair. 2008. Retrieved 11 November 2012. 
  18. ^ Needham, Alex (22 February 2012). "Andy Warhol's legacy lives on in the factory of fame". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 1 November 2012. 
  19. ^ "Photo Flap". Reason. 1998. Retrieved 11 November 2012. 
  20. ^ Hamilton
  21. ^ Sturges, 1991 & 1994
  22. ^ Mann & Price
  23. ^ Powell
  24. ^ "Leonard Nimoy: The Full Body Project". R.Michelson Galleries. Retrieved 11 November 2012. 


  • Clark, Kenneth (1956). The Nude: A Study in Ideal Form. Princeton: Princeton University Press.  
  • Conger, Amy (2006). Edward Weston: The Form of Nude. Phaidon Press.  
  • Cunningham, Imogen and Lorenz, Richard (1998). Imogen Cunningham: On the Body. Bullfinch Press.  
  • Dennis, Kelly (2009). Art/Porn: A History of Seeing and Touching. Berg.  
  • Hamilton, David (1995).  
  • Mann, Sally and Price,Reynolds (1992). Immediate family. Aperture.  
  • Powell, Lynn (2010). Framing Innocence: A Mother's Photographs, a Prosecutor's Zeal, and a Small Town's Response. The New Press.  
  • Sturges, Jock and Phillips, Jayne Anne (1991).  
  • Sturges, Jock (1994).  
  • Weiermair, Peter and Nielander, Claus. Hidden File: Photographs of the Male Nude in the 19th and 20th Centuries. MIT Press, 1988.  

Further reading

  • Benjamin, Louis (2009). The Naked and the Lens: A Guide to Nude Photography. Focal Press.  
  • Booth, Alvin and Cotton, Charlotte, ed. (1999). Corpus: Beyond the Body. Edition Stemmle.  
  • Dawes, Richard, ed. (1984). John Hedgecoe's Nude Phtotgraphy. New York: Simon and Schuster. 
  • De Dienes, André (2005). Studies of the Female Nude. Twin Palms Publishers.  
  • Lewinski, Jorge (1987). The naked and the nude: a history of the nude in photographs, 1839 to the present. Harmony Books.  
  • Padva, Gilad. Nostalgic Physique: Displaying Foucauldian Muscles and Celebrating the Male Body in Beefcake. In Padva, Gilad, Queer Nostalgia in Cinema and Pop Culture, pp. 35-57 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014, ISBN 978-1-137-26633-0).
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.