This is the first of a series I did in a photoshoot in 2003. I was 14 at the time - the model, my sister, was 9.
Quite recently I decided to try and sell the series as prints on Ebay. I posted photo-links to several art communities on Livejournal.com... and discovered the series was extremely controversial. Many people accused the photos of being child porn - a couple said CPS should be involved, etc.
To put it mildly, I was shocked. As a child and a teenager, I was sexually abused and taken advantage of many times and was very offended at my art being called child pornography.
The following is my condensed response:
Why, why, WHY is a photograph of a child who is not fully clothed automatic labeled 'child porn'??
Clothing stores frequently decipt children wearing seductive clothing, posing provacatively, sometimes with sexual slogans on their shirts, etc... and that's okay. But if I, at the age of fifteen, photograph my nine-year-old sister in undershirt and underwear, without her smiling and making come-hither motions, kissing, hand in her pants, or sitting with her legs spread... then suddenly it's child porn because... omg, she's not fully dressed.
FYI, I wasn't taking the pictures with a sexual context in mind. But even if I was...
...suppose I was decipting a young girl... appearing to be nude, curled up in the corner of a bathroom with her head in her arms... yes, that can certainly be seen as sexual. But is it pornographic? Is a child looking frightened, vulnerable, and young somehow erotic? Does it invite to molest her, to hurt her when she's already hurt? Or does it decipt her pain at having been violated?
Or if I photograph a child at a street corner, dressed like a prostitute, posed sexually. Is that inviting pedophiles to jack off to this child... or is it trying to show the sadness of a child forced into such a life?
I once was looking through a book of art in a bookstore, and came across a photo there. It looked, at first glance, like a typical portaint from the late 19th century. A group of men standing in a parlor, all dressed in black, looking somber. And in the center - a young girl, nude, maybe ten years old.
Was it sexual? Yes. Was it pornographic? No. It was an extremely powerful photograph. I could talk for hours about what I thought its meaning was, and I'm sure many other people could find other meanings... but the important thing is, the picture was not remotely erotic or inviting.
There is a HUGE difference between, say, a child photographed masturbating, or a child photographed unwillingly nude... or a child photographed willingly in a situation that COULD be seen as sexual but is not pornographic.
A child doing something obviously sexual or being sexually exploited is ALWAYS wrong, even if it's 'artistic'. But... hey! My photos don't have any (visible) abuse of any kind shown in them, and nothing sexual is happening, and - this part is really amazing - she's not naked.
Prints of this photo are available through DA and through me. If you live in the USA I'd FAR prefer you get the print directly from me - it ends up cheaper for you, and I get a lot more profit (atm I get about two dollars per print). Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you're interested.