January 6th, 2008

DSC 5089 Erotic? OK…some more on the whole erotic issue. I’m very pleased that one of my favorites of all my photos has been selected to appear in the book, The World’s Greatest Erotic Art of Today, Vol 2 set for publication in the spring. It’s another contest I entered with some reluctance. The photo of Lani that you see here is beautiful and has a sensuality to it, certainly, but I really can’t see it as an erotic photograph. In fact, to me, it is the least erotic of the several photos I entered in this contest. But it’s the one they selected as a winner to include in their book.

So, ok…some of you are asking, essentially, if I don’t like my work to be considered erotic, why do I enter things like the Erotic Signature contest and the Dirty Show. It’s certainly a legitimate question. And the answer is the core of my dilemma. In this country there just doesn’t seem to be an appropriate venue for exhibit of the kind of work I do. In other countries, like France, my work is seen as art and presented in the mainstream of photography, such as publication in French PHOTO. I’ve had a good bit of my work exhibited in Europe with no issues at all about nudity.

But here in the US it seems if it’s nude, it’s considered erotic, or even pornographic. I find that very sad. Nudes are seldom published in the mainstream photo magazines in the US. That’s a change from 40 years ago when I was a young photographer just starting out. Nudes appeared regularly in all the popular photography magazines. Now, because of companies like Walmart which will not put magazines with nudes on their newsstands, publishers won’t print nudes because it affects those newsstand sales.

There’s a wonderful art gallery in my home town. Friends of mine have had great shows of their photography there. It’s the sort of place, in a small town, that would take great pride in showing the work of a home town artist who has earned international recognition for his work. I know the woman who runs the gallery and she loves my work. But I’ll never have a show there because the gallery has an absolute policy to never exhibit nudes.

So, I look for galleries and publications and shows where nudity is not an issue. More often than not those venues turn out to be focused on erotic art. And, if it’s nude it must be erotic…at least in the good old USA.

So, what’s a figure photographer to do? Plenty of folks doing figure work have moved their work more toward the erotic. I’m not inclined to do that. In fact, I try very hard to not let any factors like this have any influence on what I do with my photography. My photos are my vision. I try to follow that vision and make photos that reflect it and not any current fashion or trend. And certainly not what any particular show or publication or contest is looking for.

While it is nice if I can sell some prints or get published or win competitions, those are not the goals that drive my work. In fact, I have serious issues with the whole idea of art competitions. Art is not a competitive sport. It’s an individual act of self-expression. Competitions are meaningless as far as art is concerned. I enter competitions as a way to allow my work to be seen by a wider audience, not in any way to measure it against the work of other artists.

So, I’m in the Dirty Show and several thousand people who attend that show will see some of my work. Maybe some of them will buy prints and help me save up for that Nikon D300 I’m going to have to buy this year. And my photo of Lani will appear in the Erotic Signature book where another group of people around the world will have a chance to see it. And where it will be preserved for some time into the future. I’ll admit to liking the idea that my work will still be around on this planet after I’ve gone. Maybe it will mean something to someone in the future. Maybe it’s just a tiny bit of beauty that I’ve contributed to this world. That’s good enough for me. If someone finds it erotic, well, who am I to say they are wrong?

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About this Blog

Photos and comments by Dave Levingston. This is the place to see my most recent work which may include nudes, dance, landscape, nature and whatever other kinds of photos I feel like taking.

Since it does contain nude photos, this blog is not intended for viewing by anyone under the age of 18.

All photographs and written comments on this blog are protected by the copyright laws of the United States.


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