The Beauty of the Erotic in a Facebook World
Erotica but not nude? A seductively clothed model can be much more erotically attractive than the completely naked figure. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to combine the erotic with the aesthetic.
Facebook is quite conservative when it comes to nudity. Any hint of nipples must scrupulously be removed whilst bikini clad babes creep through. Are Facebook missing the point? The nudes of ancient Greek statues and many paintings are aesthetically attractive. Whilst many were certainly conceived with and erotic element, it is the aesthetic that is appreciated now. The modern scantily clad model, particularly when placed in a conflicting setting (as mentioned in a previous article, a girl in lacey underwear in a landscape) is infinitely less aesthetically pleasing, but much more acceptable to the censors, than a naked one. This applies to both online and offline.
I am not suggesting that we make Facebook arbiters of what is and is not aesthetically pleasing. Too much or what we see and read is already controlled and fed to us by online multinationals, governments and faceless pressure groups.
Erotica is about the unseen, about stimulating the imagination of the viewer rather than the blatant. If you intend to create a photograph that is erotic then showing less is almost always more. The human imagination loves the hidden, the secretive and makes up its own stories in response to an image. If that image is aesthetically attractive as well then the viewer is drawn to it.
So how do we produce an erotic not nude photograph?
Clothing and Settings
It is easier to produce erotica using clothes than fine art work. Take a look at But is it Fine Art
You don’t have to recreate the dance of the seven veils, although that might be a good starting point. For clothing a simple white shirt or a piece of material, even a bedsheet can work just as well. What is an erotic setting? Well the bedroom springs to mind but the location should match the models dress, poses and expressions. What sort of image are you trying to create? The escape scene in Alien where Sigourney Weaver strips down to a T shirt and underwear is considered by some to be erotic, and that is set in a spaceship.
Unless you are trying to replicate an early Greek statue the model’s expression is the key to any photograph. The first thing we look at meeting another human is the face, this also applies when we look at a two-dimensional representation of a human. Whether they look aggressive, challenging or seductive will influence the viewer. Models who are good actors can help you recreate the desired expressions.
A lot can be hidden in the shadows. Think about the last horror film you watched. The monsters were always glimpsed in part in patches of light. They never appeared on a bright sunny day. It is the same with the erotic, glimpses of body parts get our imaginations working.
Look at the work of other photographers, film makers and artists. Try to work out ‘how did they do that?’ Don’t try to slavishly copy their work, you won’t be able to do that anyway as you will be using a different model with different expressions, but try to recreate their lighting, settings or costumes. Use and develop their ideas as inspiration for your own photographs.