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Photography

It’s hard to write something new about selfies. Everyone knows that the word “selfie” was announced the word of the year for 2013 (by the Oxford Dictionaries). Wikipedia defines “selfie” as “a self-portrait photograph, typically taken with a hand-held digital camera or camera phone. Selfies are often shared on social networking services” [1].

The first photographic portrait ever taken is considered by many to be the first “selfie”. It was taken in 1839 by “an amateur chemist and photography enthusiast from Philadelphia named Robert Cornelius” [2]. Another point of view is that “people have taken self-portraits since the 1880s, when camera shutters with self-timers were first available. This increased in 1900 with the debut of the portable Kodak Brownie box” [3]. According to Oxford Dictionaries, the earliest usage of the term – “so far anyway” – was in September 13, 2002 in an ABC Online science forum posting [4,5].

People are taking selfies, trying to find self discovery and self-acceptance, due to boredom or simply for memories. “The abundance of selfies also quite simply allows us to see more images of a far wide range of people” [6].

If you are a nudist and you take a selfie, there’s a high probability that it would be a nude selfie. Many people are outraged by nudity for unknown reasons and, of course, those offended by the sight of naked man or woman cannot “just look away” [7]. There’s a dilemma. On the one hand, you don’t want to harm anybody’s feelings. On the other hand, it seems quite ridiculous to put on clothes just to take a selfie.

The wrong cultural understanding of nudity has a long history. More than 400 years ago, Michel de Montaigne opposed treatment of nudity as something taboo. In his Essays (Book III/Chapter V) he wrote about men’s “natural furniture”

… it were a chaster and more fruitful usage to let them [women] know the fact as it is betimes, than permit them to guess according to the liberty and heat of their own fancy; instead of the real parts they substitute, through hope and desire, others that are three times more extravagant …

and continued

what do we know but that Plato, after other well-instituted republics, ordered that the men and women, old and young, should expose themselves naked to the view of one another, in his gymnastic exercises, upon that very account … [8]

Montaigne argues that “the wearing of clothing for humans is only a custom” [9]. And there is nothing wrong in having different views on customs.

References
1. Selfie – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
2. Robert Cornelius’ Self-Portrait The First Ever “Selfie” (1839) | The Public Domain Review
3. Albert Costill, 13 Things You Should Know About the ‘Word of the Year’ – Selfie | Search Engine Journal
4. Australia stand up and take a ‘selfie’
5. This photo, posted on ABC Online, is the world’s first known ‘selfie’ – ABC News
6. Jill Walker Rettberg, Why people say they take selfies | jill/txt
7. Rosie Yates, Why are we so outraged by nudity? – Concrete
8. The Essays of Montaigne by Michel de Montaigne, translated by Charles Cotton
9. Stefanie Hollmichel, Montaigne the Nudist?

Self-portrait 04/01/13 by Vadim aka t-maker | Flickr – Photo Sharing!

Nude Selfie. Self-portrait 04/01/13 by Vadim aka t-maker | Flickr – Photo Sharing!

P.S. This selfie is from the set uploaded to Flickr. The images were taken with iPhone using a Hipstamatic app for iOS.

Spring has come, time to do some cleaning. I personally feel great, when I have an opportunity to work in my birthday suit. I used to think that (almost) everything we do can be done in the nude. Nevertheless, I’ve decided to make a small investigation and discovered that:

  • “Many witches like to work in the nude, for the subtle energies of the body are more free without cloth to restrict them” [1].
  • “Apparently (and historically accurate), working nude in the day of Jesus was quite common. Men in the fields were known to work nude. Carpenters worked nude on hot days… to see a man or a gardener working in the garden without clothes was not uncommon or shocking” [2].
  • Ritual nudity has been explained with a variety of provenances, including Celtic practices, the Mysteries of Isis and Osiris, ancient Greek and Roman practices of working nude or in ‘loose flowing garments'” [3].
  • “The Bible records that Peter was working nude at fishing” [4].
  • “Working nude has some virtues. So much of our artificial social identity is bound up in our clothes, when we cast them off we become better able to perceive our essential being. Unfortunately, the drawbacks of working naked outweigh the advantages. Most people simply cannot disrobe and be at ease in the company of a group of others” [5].
  • “… as early as 1946, Adolph and Molnar (1946) reported that when working nude at 0°C [32°F], subjects became exhausted and confused within about 1 h even though they were exercising at a rate that they could easily sustain for 4 h in warmer conditions” [6].
  • Going to work in the nude is something most of us only experience in our nightmares. But for thousands of Australians who work from home, it’s a dream come true. Today, the advantages of working from home will be celebrated with Work In The Nude Day… Dozens of brave solo business people will bare all while going about their usual work day” [7].
  • “Author Cynthia Froggatt (2001) refers to the increased tendency for people to work from the privacy of their own homes as ‘working naked’, and points out its many advantages to both organizations and individuals, including enormous savings of time previously spent commuting from home to work, enormous savings of money previously used to rent and maintain workplaces, and increased flexibility, creativity and productivity” [8].

References
1. Teresa Moorey, First Steps in Witchcraft: Flash, Hachette UK, 2011
2. Hol = An opening + Ly = for the living
3. Joanne Pearson, A Popular Dictionary of Paganism, Routledge, 2013.
4. Dale E. Arskware, New Days of Glory, Dorrance Publishing, 2010.
5. Donald Tyson, Ritual Magic: What It Is and How to Do It, Llewellyn Publications, 1992.
6. Thomas Reilly, Advances in Sport, Leisure and Ergonomics, Routledge, 2003.
7. Celebrate Work in the Nude Day
8. Rodney H. Jones, Christoph A. Hafner, Understanding Digital Literacies: A Practical Introduction, Routledge, 2012.

Me sweeping the floor. The photos are partly inspired by the German edition of H&E naturist. All images can be found in my Flickr Photostream and deviantart gallery.

For the first time, I’ve learnt about nudism from the summer catalog published by Oböna Reisen, which bills itself as Europe’s largest tour operator for naturist holidays [1]. It was the first half of the 1980s and I was a teenager. At that time I lived in a country called Soviet Union, where anything that wasn’t sanctioned by the primitive, poverty-stricken form of imperial ideology was forbidden – or at least considered suspicious. The images in the catalog gave me a chance to glance at the world of naturist clubs, some of the photos even seemed to tell short stories about people and places. The Oböna catalog (the latest one can be found here: [2]), which fell in my hands by accident, was my only source of information about nudism for a few years. In some sense, it was like something from the ancient world, when the people had limited access to information.

In the Middle Ages, the largely illiterate population relied more upon visual representations of important information (such as different religious events) then the printed word [3]. Now the situation is different. “Nearly everybody in America and western Europe has learnt to read and write nowadays. Illiteracy recedes everywhere”, wrote Herbert George Wells in 1929 [4] . But the tendency to focus on visual representation of information in many areas of human activity does not vanish. We are visible creatures. “We depend on our sight more than any other of our senses and amazingly, 80% of what we perceive comes through our eyes; and our memories are 80% imagery” [5].

“Photography is one of the most compelling and authoritative forms of visual communication, challenging the viewer and demanding an emotional response” [6]. It is not surprising that photography “played an important role in spreading the word about naturism”, not only in my case. “In the early decades of the twentieth century”, when nudism emerged as the “cult of nudity in the concept of the simple life”, photographs “helped to convey in visual form evidence of the pleasures of being without clothes, to suggest a range of activities with an emphasis on life out of doors, and to attract new supporters” [7].

The first naturist magazines “could only print the most circumspect of poses and still risked prosecution. Photographs of naked men were carefully posed so that the genitals were concealed by arms or legs or the figure was shown from the side or from the three-quarter view; from the rear the figure could be safely shown completely naked. <…> Women rarely appeared in naturist photographs until the 1920s and 1930s, when they too went through a similar de-sexing process which involved masking out bodily features such as pubic hair and the dark circles around the nipples on the photographic print” [7].

“The air brush (‘pneumatic pencil’) was invented in the 1890s and proved excellent for use on photographic prints to tidy up the image and remove unwanted detail. It produced a thin fine pencil spray of neutral coloured paint which could be judiciously applied to photographs of the nude.”

“Naturists and the publishers of nudist books and magazines fought a constant battle with the various authorities for the right to print honest and accurate ‘life’ photographs, showing the outdoor activities of the nudists and the lives they led without censoring the image.” “It was not until the 1960s in the UK and the USA that any major success was achieved: naturists won the right to print untouched photographs” [7].

The principles of the American Sunbathing Association state: “We believe that sunshine and fresh air in immediate contact with the entire body are basic factors in maintaining radiant health and happiness. We believe in creating beauty in all things and therefore encourage men and women by daily care and culture to create for themselves the body beautiful. <…> We believe that presentation of the male and female figures in their entirety and completeness needs no apology or defense and that only in such an attitude of mind can we find true modesty” [8].

I believe that the modern nudists should continue spreading “the word about nudism” and, in full agreement with principles stated above, provide visual evidence of nudist lifestyle “as a healthful and moral practice”.

References
1. FKK-Urlaub mit OBÖNA Reisen‎
2. Katalog – OBÖNA Reisen FKK-Touristik
3. Book Review: Gothic: Visual Art of the Middle Ages 1150-1500
4. Herbert George Wells, The Work, World and Happiness of Mankind, Greenwood Press, 1968.
5. EYES 101: Basic Facts and Anatomy
6. Digital Photography | Ravensbourne
7. Emmanuel Cooper, Fully Exposed: The Male Nude in Photography, Routledge, 2013.
8. Elton Raymond Shaw, The body taboo: its origin, effect, and modern denial, Shaw Publishing Company, 1937.

This question has no answer, as, in fact, any question related to human behavior. This field deals with opinions, not facts. I’ll try to come to solid grounds by specifying, what can be considered as a ‘good idea’. Probably, one can describe an idea as ‘good’ for an individual, if it increases (at least slightly) the probability of his or her survival in social or biological sense. If we accept this, then we can consider a few self-evident arguments.

I’ll start with an argument expressed by Bart Simpson, maybe the most gifted philosopher of my generation, who said once: “But girls might see my doodle”. Only a brief answer can be attempted here. First of all, anxiety impacts negatively on human social and emotional well-being and thinking. In this sense, unnecessary worries are not helpful in any case. Of course, there are many things in the world a responsible citizen should worry about, such as ‘global warming’, ‘exhaustion of natural resources’, or ‘unfair distribution of revenues’. Against this background, all the worries about ‘doodle’ appear as more or less meaningless. It is not surprising that Bart did not take this argument seriously himself.

Another problem is that after seeing your nude photographs, one may begin to suspect that there is something behind them. Namely, you may be suspected in belonging to a deviant subculture. Exactly. Nudism is a “deviant subculture“, a “social and sexual phenomenon“. Nudists “are usually socially disapproved of by the larger population“. It is not clear that there exist “social and cultural benefits to involvement in the deviant subculture of nudism“. (see Nudism as a deviant subculture. StudyMode.com. Retrieved 10, 2010, from http://www.studymode.com/essays/Nudism-As-a-Deviant-Subculture-459650.html). Does it look like a real threat for anyone who wants to improve his or her chances of social success? The answer is, of course, individual.

The biggest immediate benefit for me of being a nudist is a feeling of freedom and consciousness of it. I believe that the impact of a nudist lifestyle on my life is positive. I hope that nudist photos would help to share the amazing experience of living a life of a nudist.

But what if these photos evoke some unwanted emotions and feelings in a viewer? The viewer’s reaction is often impossible to predict. In Zapisovatelé otcovský lásky, a Czech novel written by Michal Viewegh, one fictitious character is getting sexually excited when he sees a bathroom sink. Does it mean that images of bathroom sinks should be prohibited in his world?

 

Beauty will save the world. (The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoyevsky)

Dostoyevsky once let drop the enigmatic phrase: “Beauty will save the world.” What does this mean? For a long time it used to seem to me that this was a mere phrase. Just how could such a thing be possible? When had it ever happened in the bloodthirsty course of history that beauty had saved anyone from anything? Beauty had provided embellishment certainly, given uplift—but whom had it ever saved? (Beauty Will Save the World by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn)

The herculean task of a photographer is to capture a momentary frame as beautiful in reality, as it would be in a dream. (Ansel Adams, an American photographer and environmentalist)

 

I don’t know whether the Russians, at least some of them, do believe that beauty saves the world. Maybe, they believe only in force. Not all of them, of course, but some of them for sure do. I believe that the beauty around us really helps to go through the hard times and dark ages. The task of a photographer is to capture it and show to the world.

Today I would like to present a great photographer. He calls himself CHILL, French indie & self-proclaimed photographer, and, I think, he copes with this herculean task well.

Links:

Flickr: chill /// indie photographer

chill / photographie

These photos were taken on March 4, 2011 using an Olympus E-30 (1-2) and Sony DSC-TX5 (3), presumably in Mexico.

Mexique 196 By elienai | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Mexique 196 By elienai | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Mexique 173 By elienai | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Mexique 173 By elienai | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

DSC00198 By elienai | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

DSC00198 By elienai | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Images: Mexique 196 | Flickr – Photo Sharing!
Mexique 173 | Flickr – Photo Sharing!
DSC00198 | Flickr – Photo Sharing! (under Creative Commons license)

Link:
Flickr: elienai

The first and third photos were taken on February 2, 2011 (Nikon D200 – Noct-nikkor 58/1.2 AIS – 800 ISO). The second photo was taken on February 13, 2011 (Leica M6 – Voigtlander Heliar 15/4.5 Asph – XP2).

DONNA (TUTTO SI FA PER TE) By Luca Rubbi | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

DONNA (TUTTO SI FA PER TE) By Luca Rubbi | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

BARBAR!NA DOUBLE 15 By Luca Rubbi | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

BARBAR!NA DOUBLE 15 By Luca Rubbi | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

ELEGANTE By Luca Rubbi | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

ELEGANTE By Luca Rubbi | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Images: DONNA (TUTTO SI FA PER TE) | Flickr – Photo Sharing!
BARBAR!NA DOUBLE 15 | Flickr – Photo Sharing!
ELEGANTE | Flickr – Photo Sharing! (under Creative Commons license)

Links:
Luca Rubbi Photography
Flickr: Luca Rubbi