Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Giving Nude Photography a Bad Name

Last week photographer, and I use the term loosely, Zach Hyman tried to photograph a nude model at New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. He had a model hiding out in the arms and armor room until a guard turned around and started walking out, then summoned her in and had her dance around as he shot for 20 seconds. The guard saw this and now model,Kathleen “K.C.” Neill faces a charge of public lewdness.
Hyman has said he’s inspired by nude paintings at the Met and his photos are not pornographic and he has no idea why she was arrested. Her attorney, Donald Schechter says the museum is full of nude art, and to call what the model and her photographer were doing obscenity “is ridiculous.” But no one has called it pornography and this little stunt was done in full view of the museum public which included children.

As a photographer who has photographed nudes in many places, this "photographer" should have consulted with the museum staff and photographed his model after hours. Unless he wanted the shock and publicity this stunt has given him. And of course that is exactly why he did it. It wasn't to create a wonderful artistic statement, it was to get his name out in front of people and get his 15 minutes of fame. His portfolio of nudes in public is nothing more than snap shots of people stripping quickly and the shock on peoples faces when seeing the naked person.
Obviously this has been done over and over again and I don't think Hyman has added anything new to it. In fact he is one of the many reasons that photography and especially nude photography is sometimes not taken seriously.
Whether you like his body of work or not it does not change the fact that what he did in the museum was wrong.
As anyone who has read my blog in the past knows, I am all for freedom of expression. But when that expression infringes on others sensibilities, then you do not have that right. What about the rights of the parents taking their children to the museum that day. Turning a corner and seeing this naked woman dancing around the armor. How do you explain to them why their visit to a prestigious museum has now become confrontational?

As for the legal issue, I do think that the model should be cited and fined as well as Mr. Hyman. She was not intelligent enough to realize that this was nothing but a stunt so she should be penalized for stupidity along with public nudity.

Actions like this do not promote the legitimacy on nude photography, they just are another obstacle.

You can watch the news video here

I am sure we will be hearing a lot more about this and he will probably try it again in another public building. Maybe he'll bring a canvas next time and get the photographers off the hook?

By the way, the image above is not one of his, it was pulled off of a voyeur website.

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