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Thursday, 18 September 2014


I've almost never shot any nude pictures, and the reason is actually quite simple. Except in commercial work (which somehow never included nudes) I don't "set up" pictures. So, short of joining a nudist colony just to take pictures, the odds of my running into naked people without arranging a set-up photo-shoot are pretty bad.

"...I've never shot a single nude photo of anyone."

For some reason, this makes me think of the old Second City TV bit on the life of "Tolouse Van Treck" "Lust For Paint", where Flaherty says to Andrea Martin: "...I want to paint you in the nude...", and she mixes it up and says to him: "...who wants to see you in the nude..."

If you want to keep a secret, don't tell anybody.

If you want to keep your nakedness covered, don't make any naked pictures.

I'm afraid this post is going to inspire a bit of a rant from me. As someone who does photograph nudes...and has since the 1960s...there are several very disturbing things about this story.

The most serious problem is the attitude that nudity equals pornography. This is so wrong and absurd that I don't know where to begin. Nude does not equal sex. In the internet age when pornography of every ilk is readily available to anyone, yet non-sexual innocent nudity is the object of such outrage...well, it's a chilling example of Orwell's "new think." Porn is everywhere. Blatantly sexual advertising and editorial content inundates the media, yet simple nudity is banned and attacked. It is a sad situation, particularly for our young people who can't help but internalize this awful attitude that the body...their body...is shameful rather than the embodiment and source of all our ideas of beauty.

Also, these new laws intended to ban "revenge porn" may have serious consequences for photographers who work with the nude. What is going to be the legal situation for a photographer who has done nudes with a consenting model who later changes her mind and does not want her nude photos shown? Of course a model release provides evidence that consent was given, but in the past that has been a case to be decided in civil court. Will a photographer in the future find him/herself charged with a crime if a model changes her mind?

I deliberately do not pay any attention to the circus of celebrities that goes on these days...it's just half of "bread and circuses" as far as I'm concerned. But I think a better response to this supposed porn scandal would be one similar to how Amanda Palmer reacted to a newspaper review of a concert that mentioned only a "wardrobe malfunction" during the concert and neglected to mention anything about her music or the performance. Her response was healthy and witty and put the entire thing in proper perspective. You can read about it and watch her response in a concert here: http://themusic.com.au/news/all/2013/07/14/amanda-palmer-gets-naked-in-response-to-daily-mail-nipple-story/

I seem to recall that Jennifer Lawrence had a somewhat dismissive response to all of this. If so I count that greatly to her credit. I've not seen any of the Hunger Games movies, but I did greatly enjoy her performance in "Silver Linings Playbook." She seems to be a fine actress when given the chance.

Over the decades that I've been doing nude photos I've watched a discouraging change in the attitudes toward nudity in the US. At one time nudes were a regular part of most photography magazines. Not today. My work is published much more often in Europe than in the US. The attitude toward nudes is much healthier there. Does anyone remember the Candid Camera movie, "What Do You Say To A Naked Lady"? A movie that played in regular theaters in the 1970s, but couldn't even be made today.

I'm a product of the 1960s. The pendulum has been swinging in the US toward the prude end of the arc throughout my life. I look forward to the reversing of the direction of the pendulum. I hope to live long enough to witness it.

It is very hard to make this point without it sounding like victim-blaming, but I'll try:

The people who accessed these women's accounts (most likely obtaining not just photos and videos but contacts, calendars, reminders, notes, iWork documents, driving directions from Maps...) committed a series of reprehensible crimes. Those who sold, bought, shared or even just viewed the photos compounded the crimes.

That being said: if you're famous, in some cases making tens of millions of dollars a year, why aren't you paying a professional to lock down your digital life, assuming you can't be bothered to figure it out for yourself?

And even if you're not rich, famous, beautiful, or making homemade erotica, why haven't you locked down your accounts anyway? I guarantee there's something in there that could be used to harm you if it fell into the wrong hands.

Not backing up your photos etc. in the cloud is not a viable form of protection, because it's truly worthwhile to have that backup. Syncing across devices is a useful feature. We can't just shut off all things useful because they come with risks, but we can reduce the risks.

iCloud in particular can be made much more secure than the default setting, specifically using two step verification. It's a slight hassle, but not all that complicated. Enable it now.

And if you deem it too much hassle, at least review your security questions and password to make them unguessable using easily found information.

A burglar is still a criminal if he entered your house via the unlocked back door. I don't condone the crime, but I still have to ask why you left that door unlocked?

While I've at least a few sample photos made in a variety of genres, nudes are conspicuous by their absence. The public face of a person strikes me as more interesting.

To take another's photos & maliciously post them strikes me as just theft. In all sorts of ways.

I don't much mind if revenge-porn is banned, but it seems to me inappropriate to view the reddit/4Chan leak as such a thing.

From what I've read (especially Apple's response), it seems what actually happened was someone ran a dictionary attack against iCloud and found some weak user/password combinations leading to naughty pics(TM), which they then publicized.

Seeing it in such terms reveals large chunks of media-response for the agendas they hold - some quite "politically lefty" but no less agendas for that. Portraying it as "iCloud hacked" is gratuitous political spin, and unhelpfully wrong.

Now to distribute responsibility. Obviously, the responsibility for choosing to run dictionary attacks and publish the results lies only with the perpetrators of such. But the responsibility for choosing stronger passwords and for learning how to configure sharing on their iDevices lies solely with the users involved too.

These Morning Coffee posts are making me think way too hard. Whatever happened to the good old "Full Frame is better and everything else sucks" discussions? Now there is real thing to get our minds around.

Seriously though, loving it. Keep going.

Oh, and Full frame is so dead. Or not.

I agree that such postings are incredibly tacky. Depending upon the laws of each state, there may be some useful legal recourse.

"Revenge porn" postings are probably actionable in most states through civil lawsuits for invasion of privacy. Some photos postings may rise to the level of a separate claim for libel in the sense of depicting the person in a "false light". Again, this varies from state to state. Obtaining specific legal advice from a knowledgeable in-state lawyer is an important first step.

Contact an Internet-patrolling company like www.reputation.com and see whether it is feasible to get the offending images removed. That would help satisfy the initial legal requirement that the offended person take reasonable steps to mitigate the damage to them.

However, even if successful in suing the poster and obtaining a judgment from the court that survives appeal, collecting anything upon such a judgment may be difficult. It might not be worth much unless the poster has the sort of good-paying job where wage garnishment is feasible or, better, has homeowner's insurance with a company that's not sharp enough to have already excluded coverage for that sort of act.

Insurers usually get such exclusions into their policy exclusions within a few years after the first widely reported case of this sort, so this may be a transitory advantage for the person violated by the posting.

Punitive damages additionally awarded to punish and deter reckless or malevolent acts are usually non-insurable both by the exclusions found in most insurance policies and more generally by public policy because they don't punish and deter if paid by someone else.

Depending upon how cyber-stalking laws are written from state to state, there is also the possibility of a criminal act.

It would be very important to immediately secure evidence of the entire posting as well as the EXIF data in the posted images. The EXIF data can be used to tie the camera to the poster.

Generally, later legal process is not a fully satisfactory remedy. It makes more sense to avoid situations and people where "revenge porn" postings might occur in the first place.

I read that article 3 times and could not find the idea mentioned in the headline, what was it?

Nude self portraits are covered by copyright law, unless you are a monkey I guess. Maybe some lawyer with time on their hands could dry the pants off of the infringers.

Dear Mike,

The contempt I feel for the people who think this is in any way the victims' fault is huge. If I were as mean-spirited and wrongheaded as they are, I would be saying, “You know what? I hope your credit card and Social Security data gets stolen from your medical provider/department store/bank, your identity hijacked and your accounts looted, because really, you know that kind of thing happens when you let that data out, it's been in all the papers, so it's really no one's fault but your own. And I hope some black hat hijacks your computer and steals all your personal files and sensitive information and then locks you out of the machine because, you should know, no firewall you have is really going to guarantee against that happening. So, you know, if your life gets ruined, you deserve it, because you should've known better.”

Fortunately I am not as mean-spirited as them. I do not wish them ill at all.

I merely wish they didn't exist.

The people who are blaming the victims in this case are absolutely no different than the troglodytes who have blamed women for getting raped because they “didn't know their place” (socially, morally, or physically).

I shouldn't have described my feelings for them as contempt; they are beneath that.

pax \ Ctein
[ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com 
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com 

In California, we have a law against revenge porn. We also have a law against recording a private conversation without both parties' consent.

In response to the claim that this isn't a problem with iCloud because it was a dictionary attack: such an attack should be effectively impossible on a properly designed system as it will back off to make it enormously slow. So, in fact, although iCloud was not 'hacked', design deficiencies were exploited.

Thanks for the link to the article, but I have to say that I find it interesting only as an illustration of the trend towards puritanism Dave Levingston commented already about. By coincidence, I also read today an interview with Jean-Paul Gaultier, the fashion designer, by Cordula Reyer, where he comments on this trend too. In the comments on Ms. Culp-Ressler's article David Agosta remarks, that her proposal would "have made it illegal to publish the photos of Anthony Weiner."
It is not so much a question of professional nude photography, where usually contracts determine publication rights, as of private, "hobby" photography, and also street and news photography. As per Ms.Culp-Ressler's proposal, no more holiday snaps on European beaches on flickr, because, there in the 13th row, fifth to the left in Lloret del Mar, there is a topless girl sunning herself. Exit also the art photography of Massimo Vitali. Exit reporting on all events involving female (and it seems specifically female) nudity, as the person concerned would be free to prohibit use of the pictures. While the article talks about "revenge porn", the intent seems to be much larger: "These measures clarify that it is illegal for people to distribute nude photos online without the consent of the people depicted in the photos". There already is a copious body of law regarding the relative value of "the public's right to know" versus the necessary protection of individual privacy. There is also legislation and jurisprudence concerning "data theft". Is it really necessary to add other legislation to that?

Most important, adding this kind of activity to sex offenses takes away from the gravity of the crimes against the actual bodies of the victims. When I describe myself as an "ingrown toenail survivor", it belittles the experience, the suffering and the fortitude of those who actually merit the description.

As an aside, congratulations to Amanda Palmer for her very clever reaction. Showed the Daily Mail for the dorks they were, and put them to work for her benefit. Hopefully, she has many new fans.


Just wanted to thank Jerome for his great post. Thanks, Jerome.

i just want to say thank you to Ctein and Jerome.

Yeah, and the California law requiring both parties consent to recording a conversation makes all sorts of things impossible to prove; it's a horrible law.

People who would never consider allowing nude photos to be taken probably don't think of it as a common and normal activity. It's true that if they're never taken, they can't get out. But, statistically, I believe rather a lot of people have nude photos taken at one time or another, some with the intention of their not getting out. Treating it as a basic an inherent mistake is, I think, attempting to enforce the crazy.

If the photographer is willing to cooperate (which for nude selfies would be a given), stealing and distributing these photos could be prosecuted, perhaps even as criminal copyright violation.

I do have to say that American's general attitude towards nudity is quite crazed. We're crazy about pretty much everything we associate in any way with sex. "Sex is nasty and dirty and you should do it only with the one you love best", and similar nonsense. That slops over into this, since we associate nudity with sex. (The fact that we associate them so strongly is part of the crazy, I'm pretty sure.)

(I want to emphasize -- I'm an American, and I'm pretty sure my attitudes are afflicted by the crazy. I don't really know what sane is in this area, I've just learned enough to recognize that this isn't it. So I don't know the right attitude, I just know that ours is brodly wrong.)

I guess I've worked with half a dozen models nude over the years. It's interesting.

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