The Fine Line
Today I've been on Facebook pretty much all day. Since I've been sick for days now, what else can I do? On one of the photography pages I'm on, someone posted a beautiful photo of a young girl about age 6 I'd say and asked if her shoulder showing was too much exposure. As I look at the photo as an experienced photographer, technically, everything looked great. But to the question she asked, I answered with a "Shoulder too exposed, yes".
More than one thought makes up my answer. And yes the fact that I am a mom of three kids, two of which are daughters did and does influence my decision(s). But more so, the number of years of experience I have as a photographer and all the training I've had to critique images, makes my decision sound. Along with common sense!
As photographers, we're trained (well, at least I've been influenced by great mentors. And maybe that's not the case these days for newbie photographers.) that there is a "FINE LINE" in photography. A fine line that could send an image to the 'deep end', meaning, being too provocative in this case. And it's up to we photographers because we tell stories with the media of our cameras. We utilize a powerful tool. And that story or picture is going to be around for a long time... And a lot of people are going to see that picture. Other photographers, friends, family, clients, and the public will see the images you post, promote and sell. Having common sense and a good critiquing sense of one's own images are needed to not send your image off to the 'deep end'.
As I already said, the image in questions was beautiful. As a parent, if I wanted that image made then that's fine, I'd do it. I know it would be kept in my own home. And yes if a client asked me to photograph it, I probably would. But just a little different. You see, the image was of a 6 year old little girl seemingly only wrapped in a fur blanket. The fur blanket was well below her shoulders. This placement of the blanket is, in my opinion, too low when the subject is this young and with nothing on underneath. That coupled with her sideways pose and her sweetly doe eyes looking into the camera,,, yes this all makes an image take on a different meaning to me.
My opinion of this FB page is that there are A LOT of newbie photographers on there. Most of the comments on any picture on any given day, (even when the maker asks for opinion), they all say 'It's beautiful!", 'OMG' --- it's all fluff and more fluff. Members don't seem to want to give constructive comments. Since I think it's possible that the majority of them are newbies, they probably haven't learned or been taught to give constructive critiques. So of course they thought I was wrong with my opinion of this image. Here were some of the comments that appeared after mine and it's important to know that only after a 'negative' comment (negative meaning, my comment wasn't a fluff like theirs) appears do they start commenting like this, "How is a shoulder OR child sexual?" Another highly arrogant reply, "This is beautiful! I don't think the shoulder is too much, at all. How someone can sexualize a shoulder is beyond me. But! That's just my opinion and opinions are like assholes; we've all got them". Reading that slam,,,, YES! It made me mad. And it's been eating at me all day.... But not because people disagree with me. I can handle that... I'm just shaking my head all day thinking about the bigger picture. When did society change to think an exposed shoulder wasn't sexy? Adult, child, male or female. And when did that all become ok? Last I knew, child abuse is still a major issue today. Really????? Is a shoulder not sexy? And yes I will take offense when people call me old or something. I think it comes down to morals! And it should be common sense to not take for granted that everyone is not going to see it as sexy and not act on it.
Is it acceptable in this image's case because it was beautifully done? (I wish I could post the picture, but I can't... Copy right laws you know...)
Does age appropriateness go out the window if the image is beautifully done?
Sometimes there's an easy fix right in front of you and you can't 'see' it. Like, pulling the blanket up to the top of the shoulders.... Would have given a whole different message or lack of message in this case!
Photographers are passionate people. And sometimes our judgements can get clouded very easily. It takes a good person as a photographer to step back, wait a day,, then make a decision. But of course,, there's a 'fine line' with that too! Some photographers like controversy!