Friday, November 26, 2010

Say Cheese

When I was a student the first time, there was a lucrative job opening working for the University of Alberta that I applied for, and gleefully obtained. For $14 an hour, I took my clothes off.
The university needed nude models for their art classes, and apparently there weren't enough people with mid-life crises that needed the positive reinforcement, so they hired me. What this means, that I periodically think about in varying degrees of embarrassment and pride, is that somewhere, in the world, there are nude paintings of me. Conceivably even in some student's portfolio.
Should the case ever occur where someone took a photo of me through my living room window in the same state of undress as the paintings, however, I'm not saying they wouldn't find a body just that the chalk outline would need to be done with spray-paint.

A couple of ladies who needed the money (Or hell, just liked doing it; why shouldn't they?) were working at a strip club in Toronto, but while taking their breaks on the roof that they believed was private, in costume, their photos were taken and, as with everything photographic now-a-days, was posted online with an accompanying piece. Many of the women have quit in response, especially since one girl is a student at a next-door university (although how she worked NEXT DOOR to the university and never expected any fellow students to come in is beyond me).

Apparently a copyright lawyer has voiced that in public no one has the right to privacy, but the nature of the roof is up for debate (seems there was a wall hiding most of the roof from the windows where the pictures were taken from). A pretty rough reading of the report seems to indicate that the case will be declared in favor of the photographer, who was "Stunned and embarrassed" by the article that ran with the pictures. Yes. Because he sat through an entire interview with a journalist but then did not expect them to publish it. Sure.

At the very least, I think the photographer should be charged with theft. Not to open the floodgate that anyone on the street who makes eye-contact with the ladies should pay a fee, but I  think if the girls are in "costume" since people pay a door fee to watch the show  it is a form of theft to enjoy the ladies in costume without paying anything. If Lime-wire is going to be shut down so people don't circulate the same music that is available for free on the radio, the parables seem comparable to me. It's all about the control of your "artistic creation", which for strippers includes their bodies.

As a professional photographer, I think the gentleman should have been better aware of the laws regarding picture usage, and consent. Plus, he's sitting in his office taking pictures of young ladies having a quiet smoke? Didn't feel the need to wander on over one day and say "Hi ladies! I'd like to take some pictures of you relaxing on the roof-top; anybody interested?" Perhaps the ones he wanted to see would have balked, but I'm willing to bet at least a couple would be up the stairs babbling about their "best side" so fast, there would just be the lingering smell of sequins in the air. To me, although it might be a minor point, it just smacks of that old notion that since they are "bad" or "loose" women, they don't have the right to control what happens to their bodies or visage. If this man was taking secret pictures of women in business suits having a smoke, the pictures would probably just develop as restraining orders, right there in the pan. ("Huh. Guess this one's overexposed..."). He defends himself by saying they were beautiful pictures, but this again just smells of a notion that I have run into a few times or more...

Ladies, put your hands up if you've even been walking around the street and a man, well-meaning I'm sure, has ordered you, with a dopey grin on his face, to "Smile!". Let's get all the rhetoric about how he means no harm, blah blah, out of the way and address the initial problem: No-one ever tells a man randomly to smile; it is an order reserved for women (I flatter myself by thinking attractive women), but no one knows why it is a woman's job to beautify the area with her smile. If I wanted to, and boy do I want to, I could certainly connect this to the notion of the Hajib. I cannot help but wonder if the notion that we have "the right" to view attractive women's faces compels bill 94 in some way. Let me put it this way: attractive women are not Geisha; they are not trained and should not be required to be living artwork just for the general public's viewing pleasure.

Oh yes, it's a complicated world out there, filled with photo-lenses; more and more we find ourselves in the public eye, on our best behavior. The ladies but also the photographer as we all point our microscopes at him to say, "Was that right?". It is really a tragedy that when we have achieved our greatest level of public photography and circulation, we have also hit the greatest low with regards to manners and etiquette.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The roof (due to the wall) may have some 'expectation of privacy" attached, and that will get messy.

One point though: It's not that women are expected to beautify the region of space they occupy, it's not (in my eyes) a duty. Men are simply sufficiently ugly creatures that a woman's smile helps to generally reduce the prevalence of ugly in local spacetime. So I make the effort to have the ladies around me be motivated to smile.

Children can also accomplish a similar modification to the quantum cuteness quotient (or QCQ as it is often referred to) of local spacetime.

The walk-up photo thing is both creepy and rude.

Beyond that, thumbs up for the guts on modeling.