Polaroid cameras. The first cameras which offered ‘instant’ photography without the need for external development, and probably the point at which ‘nude photography’ really took off. These days, we all have digital cameras, and cameras on our phones, so the potential for ‘nude photography’ is vast and the potential to share that photography just as instantaneous.
SLN reader Andrea has written to us recollecting her experience of a Polaroid camera and her first ever nude photographs…
Back in the 1980s, when I was a shy young virgin, and just begun a relationship with my first boyfriend (also a virgin). Of course we were inquisitive about each other’s bodies, and our explorations had led from being partly and then fully nude with each other to masturbating one another. His parents went out on a Saturday night and occasionally we’d even hop in the bath and soap one another down. I wasn’t just ready for full sexual intercourse, though, that was still over the horizon, but we did enjoy getting naked with one another and doing some of what all young lovers do.
One night he surprised me by producing a Polaroid instant camera and suggesting we took a few photos. Initially, I refused, but finally agreed to pose for a few lingerie shots. Lingerie isn’t the right word. It was basically just white bra and panties, and I insisted my face wasn’t in the photos. I was unidentifiable, with either my head not in the shot, or turned away from the camera. It was fun, pretending to be a model in ‘classic’ arched back poses.
After we’d done them, and had a laugh at the resulting shots, we then wondered what to do with the photos. Inquisitive parents, at either his house or mine, might discover the images, so we took them into the garden and burned them in the BBQ.
We repeated the ‘experiment’ some weeks later, this time with me in the bath, much like the photo above. ‘Innocent’ enough in that there was nothing ‘sexual’ in the photos, but this time my then boyfriend kept and hid the resultant photos. Eventually we split up, and I’d already put them out of the back of my mind by that stage and forgot to ask for them back. For long periods of my life I didn’t think about them, then they’d be forefront in my mind and I’d blush.
Thankfully this was the pre-internet age so any ‘sharing’ of them would have been done on a one to one basis. I was never out there for ‘all the world’ to see. I used to be frightened that the photo might surface somewhere but as time has gone on I’ve become less concerned about that. After marriage, a divorce, three kids, gaining a few kilos in weight and changing hairstyle, I doubt anyone might even recognise me now.
What seemed like an innocent, sweet thing to do at the time, though, hung over me for years. I’m thankful that I did do it then and wasn’t doing it now, when such a photo could be shared as ‘revenge porn‘, on numerous websites, around the world, in seconds. I know that countries are now passing legislation to make this illegal, but a successful conviction isn’t going to erase the photos from around the globe. It’s something that could ultimately haunt you, as it did me. For anyone thinking of making ‘sweet innocent’ photos in today’s climate, with today’s technology, I’d advise them to think again before they do so.
Ella adds… I’d agree with Andrea on this. Taking photos of each other can be fun, but it’s important to always remember the nature of the relationship you’re in. A boyfriend you’ve just met, requesting nude photos on the various strands of social media? Get rid! Even though a marriage may not last forever, and divorce can be bitter, there’s probably a firmer, safer foundation to build a mutual photo taking exercise on in an established (married or not) relationship.
The other side of the coin is that the social atmosphere has changed in recent years, where the ‘nude selfie‘, sent to a significant other, is part of the fun aspect of a relationship. And given the explosion in this sort of photography, it can’t really be argued that the model didn’t know what he or she was doing. People pose on the basis that they understand it can be shared easily. As a naturist I find it heartening that people are much more body confident these days and that nudity in society at large is now much more acceptable and ‘normal’ than it would have been when I was at the teen years, and certainly Andrea was in her teen years. While it can be fun, I’d suggest that you always consider your reaction to a photo’s escape onto the internet. Not just now – the confidence of teen age is that you may adopt a ‘I don’t care’ approach. But how might future employers look on it? Or future partners? Or your parents or your children? People have taken nude photographs of each other since almost the invention of photography. They will continue to do so. But please, always be aware of the consequences of such actions.