Is this a good idea for kids?
A common and perfectly reasonable concern is:
What is the effect of being photographed nude on children? Do
they regret it? Are there any negative impacts? While such worries
are well placed, there is empirical evidence which strongly suggests
that it can be a very positive experience.
On a few occasions, I have re-photographed
someone from one to ten or more years after the first time.
While one may question whether an infant can cognitively understand
what she is doing, many years later, her awareness will have
grown considerably. Of all the girls whom I approached about
being photographed again, only one said “No.” While she didn’t
want to be re-photographed, she did not object to my using
the picture we had made a few years before.
Another girl I photographed when she was 11 came to one of the
project’s first exhibitions, at a women’s health
center in Massachusetts. By then she was 16. The room, and hence
the exhibition, was pretty small; as a result, this girl’s
image was not included. Disappointed when she and her mom got
there, she immediately volunteered to be photographed again,
thinking that two chances were better than one!
I did get a request from the mother of one of the young girls
to pull her picture from the series, which I did. Later, when
the girl was in her 20s, our paths crossed again. She was then
quite comfortable with being included. Her picture went back
Some have written their statement several
years after the photo session—again an endorsement of their participation. I
am unaware of any young girl I’ve ever photographed having
any real misgivings about being in The Century Project.
Why is this so?
The main reason may be that I am almost
always approached first by a parent (usually Mom). Typically
I meet with the girl’s
mother and show her what the project is all about. She then goes
home to talk it over with her daughter (and husband, if there
is one). If it’s okay with the daughter (usually the case),
the three of us then meet to look at pictures again. Finally,
mother and daughter talk things over, notifying me of the decision
Parental support is the real key here.
Although I often photograph the mother as well, sometimes Mom
says “No” but her
daughter says “Yes”!
It is important to know that these children
are not the average kids on the street—nor are the 40-,
50-, or 90-year-olds olds typical! My guess is that most kids
would not want to be included in The Century Project.
An exception to the introduction through the mother involves
girls who come to an exhibition with a parent and volunteer on
the spot. This has happened twice. A third came by herself, volunteered,
and announced that she was only 17. I told her to go get a parent.
Her father was a professor at the school where I was exhibiting.
A few minutes later Dad arrived; it turned out we had met at
the exhibition the day before. He co-signed a release on the
spot. I photographed his daughter a few days later.
Of course I have photo releases for everyone. In the case of minor
children, it has been validated by a parent. The wording of the
release specifically says that the photographs are to be nude,
to avoid any confusion or misunderstanding about this. Under the
proper circumstances, with parental permission and support, making
legitimate nude pictures of kids is perfectly okay for them, and
therefore totally acceptable.
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