The Perils of Naturist Photography

SUBTITLE: Think this skin makes my butt look big?

I know… First World Problems and all that! But while one might think that naturist photography has become a lot easier in the digital age, in many ways, it’s quite to opposite.

A film capture – At La Jenny in 1999

I feel like I can speak with some sense of experience on this topic, if not outright exasperation. The first time I remember bringing a camera to a naturist place was in 1994. We were visiting a modest nudist place in the San Francisco Bay Area and brought along our 35mm camera hoping we might grab a few pics for the archives. (We’d be moving to the east coast soon, and who knew if we’d ever find a place to get naked there!)

It would be difficult for somebody under the age of 30 to remember what it was like to carefully calculate your film consumption, as the most you could hope for was a 36-exposure roll of film. If you were going to set up a shot, you’d better get it right. In fact, they had you coming and going: Not only would you lose the frame on the film roll, but then you’d have to pay to have that random and blurry photo of your foot developed! Seems to me that if we got ten good shots out of a 36 exposure roll of film, we were feeling pretty good. Some of our earliest naturist photos are either blurry beyond recognition, of inadvertently cropped out appendages such as arms and heads. Not suitable for any photo album, I dare say.

Dordogne Valley, 1999

And if the shot had nudity in it… What then? I remember taking a few early rolls to the drug store hoping that would “be OK.” The general word on the street back then was as long as there was no sexual content, you were probably going to be fine. Then there was a big scandal where a mom took a roll of “bathtub pictures” in to be developed, only to find herself facing criminal charges, despite the fact that the pictures were of an innocent nature. As I recall, that led to a wide sweeping ban, led by the likes of Walmart, to immediately sequester any photos featuring nudity – especially child nudity – while the authorities were to be summoned.

Club Origan, 2004

Soon there were digital cameras. While I think we purchased our first one around 1999, I remember taking a spiffy new Canon 35mm model with us on one of our first explorations of naked France. It looked, felt and acted much like a traditional 35mm camera. Suddenly, it was “take all the pics you want!” You’re only limited by the size of your flash card and disc space on your computer. And you didn’t have to worry about that moment at the One-Hour photo place when the middle-aged woman watching your naked ass slide out of the developing machine at the CVS store freaked out. Nor did we have to find one of those discreet photo developers listed in the back of a naturist magazine, pay twice as much, and wait for three weeks for a blurry picture of a naked foot. Nakation photography was here to stay!

La Jenny Beach, 2007

Who could have predicted the explosion of the internet back then, let alone the advent of the smartphone? As I write this from a smallish resort in Thailand, it took me five tries to position my phone with the timer to create a discreet photo by the pool, early in the morning, before everyone is up and about – ever so diligent about not catching one of the “no photography” signs in the background.

I get it! Once an image is captured in 2019, who knows where it will end up? And I’ve already ranted in other posts about oh so many websites that claim to feature genuine and fully authorized naturist photos, but how does one even begin to go about verifying that? So most small resorts invoke the only logical policy – NO NAKED PHOTOGRAPHY, OF ANYONE, EVER!

St Martin, 2008

That said, generally speaking, I have found most places in Europe and Asia a bit more easy going on this policy than those in the US. (Thinking of what almost came down to a body cavity search at a nude music festival in West Virginia a few years back!) Though yesterday, during my visit to Chan Resort in Pattaya, there were at least two guests reading books on their smart phones, (Would have loved to have gotten a pic of the guy doing that right below the no photography sign!) as was I, as this is my primary reading device when traveling. My wife was doing the same thing in a German spa a few years ago and was told to put her cell phone away – and fair enough! Who’s to say she’s not taking advantage of the occasional photo op every now and again, which by the way, she was not.

Croatia 2012

Of course, if you’re at a large naturist center like some of those in France and Croatia, where people simply have more private space away from the pool complex, naturist photography is quite a lot easier. Or, if you can find a place where naturist walking is possible – the shores of Mallorca, isolated paths on a Greek island, resorts with significant acreage, or just about any beach in France – a few more opportunities open up even yet.

Crete, 2012

Interestingly, I got in a bit of a tussle recently with a long-timer on reddit about the proliferation of naturist images on the internet, which of those might be considered to be in the public domain (He would say none!), and which of those were simply a gateway drug to pornography. All valid points, I think, but ironically enough, I think this all cycles back to one of the greatest difficulties of being a naturist in the 21st century. The issue shouldn’t be the proliferation of photos depicting simple non-sexual nudity; the issue should be that there’s really nothing wrong with simple non-sexual nudity. In an era where paranoia is dictating just about everything, from rules in the public schools to foreign policy on immigration, most of us naturists are scared to death that the wrong photo will somehow turn up in the wrong place. In thirty years of naturist activity, this has yet to happen to me, and on this end of the spectrum, it is not only seeming less likely, but I’d like to think I’m less likely to care.

Club Origan, 2013

In the meantime, we not only enjoy documenting our naturist travels, but have also taken a great deal of pleasure from a slideshow that runs fairly constantly on my desktop computer. It’s simply a travelogue. We travel naked about half the time, so about half the photos feature nudity. We enjoy reliving each moment of each particular place, as each of those places have a story. But it’s also interesting – if not a bit disquieting at times – to watch out bodies age within the typically human struggle of accepting that is simply what humans do! While body acceptance at 35 was easier than at 55, I’m hoping I’ll have the constitution to appreciate the inherent beauty of my 75-year-old naked self when that time comes.

Thailand, 2016

Of course, a lot can happen in 20 years. Who knows how we’ll deal with capturing images by then?https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1mSs8bnH6Q39QR6mJCTOWcjLUbb2Xjkw0CoaBmf_Uzlk/edit#gid=1321461204https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1mSs8bnH6Q39QR6mJCTOWcjLUbb2Xjkw0CoaBmf_Uzlk/edit#gid=1321461204 I suppose the infrastructure is already in place, especially at naturist places where security is key, that I could find naked images of myself of just about anyplace I’ve been naked over the past ten years. And to think, people fret about full-body scans at the airport? Don’t they have something better to worry about?

Thailand… today!




22 thoughts on “The Perils of Naturist Photography

  1. Ah yes…when I moved from the West coast to the East Coast, I thought my nudism days were numbered. Thankfully I found several nudist clubs in the area, and while you may have to go off trail, there are many state parks and national forests that you can hike naked, if you are remote enough and avoid peak days.

    Liked by 1 person

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  3. Andy Solorzano says:

    I remember those days of taking our 35mm film into the Thrifty Drug Store to get developed. My mother worked the photo counter and would look through our pictures after they came in. Though we didn’t have any nudes, I had pics of my wife minimally covered and my mother gave me the raised eyebrow look as she handed me our packet of photos. Soon after we began our full time nudist venture, I purchased a Polaroid camera to document our Nakations.

    I understand the concern for cameras and photo taking at nudist resorts but I’ve always stated that it’s not the cameras you see that should concern you, it’s the ones you don’t see that are a concern. I’ve looked through tumblr pages of naturist photos and see the types of bodies they prefer posting photos of. Ours don’t match so I’m not so worried that our photos will end up on the internet but I’m still very careful as to what I will upload.

    With the younger generation glued to their technology, it’s a antiquated rule to prohibit these devices and then expect or hope for younger people to become interested and participate in organized social nudism and visit resorts and become members of nudist clubs.

    I take lots of pics of my wife, of us and of our close friends while visiting with one another at clubs, resorts, beaches and even our homes. Those memories we are capturing are meaningful and having some random nude bodies in the frame of the picture I’m taking, isn’t what I’m really after.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks Andy. Great point about young people and devices! That’s a thing. (Though it’s interesting to see how the Germans are handling that in spa settings! And making it work!)
      It’s been too long. Time to get together again. I’ll bring the digital photo device. LOL

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    • i agree the more open and blatant the photography is, the more likely it is that they’re innocent nakation pics. I admit my attitude might be biased as my body is not one that’d likely be seen in most naturist mags.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. For most Orientals, it’s impossible not to take selfies. I do it all the time whether clothed or nude and even in places where photography is generally frowned upon such as in church. I post all my clothed pics on Facebook and naturally, I also post all my nude pics in my naturist blogs and websites. And it works well. The world is too used to seeing pornography so much so that it immediately associates nudity with sex. A proliferation of decent nude pics will make the world used to the idea of non-sexual nudity. And what I have been doing has yielded results. My very conservative society including my church has grown to accept that nudity (at least mine) is not sexual. They can see that I don’t treat my nude pics any differently from my clothed pics. And it’s all the wonderful testimony of photographs. Even my bishop accepts me and my naturist blogs.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. It helps to know your rights. In the States, the depiction of adults and children nude in visual media is not subject to local obscenity laws or ordinances because it has had constitutional protection since 1958, when the Supreme Court annulled a Court of Appeals finding that Sunshine & Health magazine could be obscene (Sunshine Book Co. v. Summerfield, Postmaster General, 355 U.S. 372).

    In the book Therapy, Nudity and Joy – The Therapeutic Use of Nudity Through the Ages, Aileen Goodson Ph. D. notes this fact saying, “In 1958, the United States Supreme Court ruled that nudist magazines did not violate the federal anti-obscenity law.”

    So…anyone complaining about innocent nudity in photos shows they don’t know this ruling and have no right to complain and the authorities have no right to act — at least not in the States.

    I appreciate that you went the right direction in pointing out that “the issue shouldn’t be the proliferation of photos depicting simple non-sexual nudity; the issue should be that there’s really nothing wrong with simple non-sexual nudity.” Right on Dan!

    Liked by 4 people

      • In the UK, it is perfectly legal to take any photograph if the photographer is in a public place. Even in a “private” place it is not a breach of the criminal law: the owners of that place are simply empowered to treat you as a trespasser if you break their regulations and escort you off the property. They have no power over your property (to confiscate camera, film, or demand deletion of an image). It is only if there is a sexual element in the photograph, or the way it is used, that a photographer possibly may be laid open to criminal charges. Naturist photography will not do so, of course. This applies to children as subjects, jus as anyone else.

        Liked by 2 people

    • But you will still find time and manner limitations. They may be written in local laws or it may just be a heckler’s veto. Your copy of Sunshine and Health magazine won’t be on the rack with Popular Mechanics. It will be behind the counter with Playboy, perhaps in an obscuring wrapper and in some places, you’ll have to be 18 to buy it.

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      • Actually, anyone can order copies of the Sunshine and Health magazine from eBay.

        But people who know their rights, at least in the States, have a better chance of dealing with people who complain. Additionally, if you have money and/or know they right people, you can make things happen. I’ve seen it firsthand.

        The real problem is, most people don’t want to stand up for what they believe in like they used to.

        Liked by 3 people

      • “if you have money and/or know the right people” is not a good definition of freedom.

        Most of the struggle for freedom is from individuals and nonlanded clubs who don’t have easy access to facilities. They are the ones who feel their rights are infringed. However, these people may have to deal with social isolation and/or occupational loss if they come out of the closet. There is no recognized “right” to be a nudist. Maybe you don’t have a job where it would matter and don’t mind if the neighbors look at you strangely or don’t talk to you. I believe you are selfish, egocentric, and morally wrong to make that choice for your children.

        If you are fortunate enough to live within a reasonable distance of a club, have the money to join, and can pass whatever gatekeeping is set up, you don’t care. Or maybe you live on a rural property with little street visibility or have a high fence around your back yard. You may believe your freedom is NOT being trampled because you are doing everything you want to.

        So the number of people who could rationally be expected to advocate for nudie rights is a small portion of those who actually practice it. It is an uphill struggle and may be more a matter of waiting for society to move our way than us changing society. Still, ya gotta try.

        Liked by 3 people

      • Hi Fred! Your points are well taken. Overall, I agree.

        I may be wrong and if I am, please forgive me, but you seem to be relating nudism to recreational nudism, where one goes some place to be nude, and not where nudism is a philosophy of life. INF has an official definition of naturism which has never changed, and which I believe is accurate: “Naturism is a way of life in harmony with nature characterized by the practice of communal nudity with the intention of encouraging self-­‐respect, respect for others and for the environment.” As Bare Oaks says in every episode of their podcast, the Naturist Living Show, “Naturism is more than taking your clothes off. It is a life philosophy with physical, psychological, environmental, social and moral benefits.”

        My point is, nudism/naturism (I see them as the same) is also more than going to some place to take your clothes off. In short, it is a way of life that IS protected by the law WHEN people know the law — their rights — and are willing to stand up for their rights. Knowing your rights and standing for them are both critical.

        I couldn’t tell from your blog whether you lived in the States or not. I didn’t see an About page or anything. But the more important point I want to make is the FACT that, in the States, the United States Declaration of Independence states, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

        Did you see that? You said, “There is no recognized ‘right’ to be a nudist” but in the States, the United States Declaration of Independence explicitly says we all have “unalienable Rights” and it says that among those rights “are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” That word liberty means freedom and it explicitly says we have a right to freedom, to live as we see fit, and it explicitly says we have a right to pursue what makes us happy.

        So I disagree with you about our rights, at least in the States, and agree with you that the real problem is the minority of people who actually WANT to “advocate for nudie rights”, particularly those who feel they can’t for whatever reason. The reality here is, people who are unwilling to fight for their rights are simply more interested in something of greater value to themselves. They are willing to give up their rights for whatever they think is more important.

        This is true for everyone, including you and me. You yourself admitted, or at least implied, that your job and what other people think of you were more important to you. You said, “Maybe you don’t have a job where it would matter and don’t mind if the neighbors look at you strangely or don’t talk to you.”

        Most of these fears are unfounded and my personal experience will testify to this, as anyone who knows me well knows I am a nudist (that includes co-workers) and it has only ever been a problem once, when my sister objected. If someone did decide not to talk to me or to mistreat me (look at me some certain way) because of my ideology, that just proves they are the one with the problem, not me. My experience is, when you consistently and persistently stand up bold, proud, and unflinchingly, others eventually come to respect you.

        I will add that I don’t broadcast that I am a nudist, but I also don’t cower in fear but will discuss it openly with anyone who brings up the subject. Concerning my job, as long as I am not doing anything inappropriate at work and what I do at home doesn’t affect my work, I don’t see how my employer can have a say in the matter. Of course, I am the kind who would fight for my rights if they did challenge me.

        You said, “It is an uphill struggle and may be more a matter of waiting for society to move our way than us changing society. Still, ya gotta try.”

        I agree it is an uphill struggle, but I fail to see how society will move in any direction without someone who will step out and take a chance to fearlessly guide and direct it. Whatever way society is today is because someone was doing this in the past. In fact, my impression is that many nudists today don’t realize that nudism was pioneered by individuals who willingly stepped out and said, “This is what we believe.” They are responsible for whatever freedoms we do have now. When we’re unwilling to do what they did, we do them a disservice and we may even lose ground. If we want to change society, we must step out. We must not cower in fear. We must be bold and unashamed. We must realize we have rights and we must be willing to fight for them.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Quoting me, you “if you have money and/or know the right people” is not a good definition of freedom.

        I definitely agree and my whole point was that our culture is askew to the point that even the law can be broken and gotten away with if you have enough money or know the right people. My point was, things need to change and for the better. I wasn’t implying we should take advantage of the system.

        Liked by 3 people

  6. The US has a written Constitution. We, in the UK, do not. However, there is a principle in English and Welsh law that what is not forbidden in the Common Law, or by legislation, is permitted. Simple public nudity is not an offence. Nor is photography. Ergo, photography of public nudity is not an offence. Nor can bylaws passed by local authorities supplant this principle, even if they purport to do so. At the moment, we do not have militant nudists demonstrating their rights in the High Street, but in time, we might. We are much closer to getting militant nudist photographers demonstrating theirs.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. “It … be more a matter of waiting for society to move our way than us changing society.”

    I fear this may be a larger factor than many of us – especially myself – want to admit. The older I get the higher the percentage seems to be of people who are so entrenched in their views that they will not even engage with perceived opponents for the purposes of ‘proving’ them wrong. The simply say “I’m right” then put their fingers into their ears and say “La la la la la … I can’t hear you.” And I’m talking about everything, across the board, on damn near any topic one can think of.

    I suggest that voting with one’s feet and wallet might be the best option. Make an effort to find nudist/naturist events in your area and GO. Attendance numbers and resultant revenue are what will give people pause to reconsider…

    Liked by 3 people

    • I’m in total agreement, especially on voting with your wallet! While it might be hard to swallow, economic conditions are the most persuasive in changing people’s perceptions and attitudes. For that matter, it’s also clear why so many naturist venues have caved to the allure of sexually charged environments. The dollar overrules sensibility and clear-mindedness every time!

      Liked by 2 people

  8. I really don’t like labels like “nudist” and “naturist” I know you have to have some generic label for people who enjoy – or would like to enjoy – social nudity. But the minute someone tries to define the label, people start getting left out. The tighter the definition, the more people aren’t covered. I like to think of myself as simply a “nudie”. I simply enjoy being nude and would exercise that option more if I could.

    In the US system, rights are theoretical constructs. You have a right to do various things but if enough people think you oughtn’t to do them, you really don’t. One has to fight for a right and then be militant about protecting that right if it is to be anything more than an empty promise of paper.

    OTOH, society evolves without any effort to direct the evolution. Attempts to direct social evolution either fail or lead to fascism of some sort. Technology is today’s biggest force in this evolution. By freeing women from having to bear children, birth control led directly to the sexual revolution. Science displaced religion as an explanation for why the world is as it is. Television led to one revolution, the internet to yet another.

    Nudism by whatever term we want to call it doesn’t have the ability to move millions to protest and civil disobedience. We rather have to wait for a favorable climate for our own issues to be taken seriously. If we can climb onto another group’s coattails, so much the better.

    It may be the nudism of tomorrow is not what we think of it as being today. Millenial and more recent generations are much less interested in rules and organizations. They are chaotic and freeform in their approach.

    I use the word “we” with a grain of salt. There are many different approaches to social nudity and a number of different national and regional organizations and they don’t all pull together in harness.

    Liked by 1 person

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