Friday, August 22, 2014

Age of Innocence

I've always loved children.  In fact so much so that even when I was a child myself I can remember thinking that when I grew up I was going to have a big family and that I would have at least two daughters and one would be named Isabella and the other Annabel, both old family names.  But, as fate would have it I can't have my own biological children, and thus far have not been in a position to adopt.  Though I have, through a strange set of circumstances that we will save for another day, become mommy #2 to three beautiful girls (none of whom are named Isabella or Annabel but that's okay because I still love them with all my heart).  But even before becoming a parent I was highly involved with children in anyway I could be.  I worked in childcare for a long time, and after that I was part of the Big Brothers Big Sisters program.  On top of that I had friends who had kids that I doted on like they were my nieces and nephews.  I just plain love kids.  And as such I am huge advocate and protector of kids.  I can't stand to see a child abused, exploited, or hurt in any way.  It makes my blood boil and my heart break.

I'm also an artist.  I see the beauty in the world around me.  I look at everyday things and see them in a different light than what the average person may see.  I see the colors, the lines, the shapes, the light, the shadows, and how they all converge to create a picture.  I see concepts and how to tell a story without using words or sounds.  I especially love photography.  I like looking through the lens of my camera and finding that perfect shot to capture that one fleeting moment in time where everything lined up perfectly.  And I love photographing people and capturing that look on their face, the glint in their eye, the way they carry their body.

So what do these two things have to do with each other?  Well there is a photographer out there who has created quite a bit of controversy over a series of photos he did involving his two year old daughter.  His name is Wyatt Neumann, and you can see his work here.  These photos, to me, clearly depict the innocence of a young child.  She can be seen in her princess dress in some, and in some with nothing on at all, and there are various stages in between.  But let's be honest parents, what two year old keeps their clothes on all the time?  None of the photos depict poses that could be construed as sexual in nature.  They are all carefree and very child like.  From an artistic standpoint they are amazing! 

That being said, the parent and child advocate in me has some concerns.  While I find no sexual interest in these photos I know there are some seriously disturbed individuals out there who will.  By releasing these photos on into the wilds of the internet so to speak Mr. Neumann is potentially setting his daughter up for victimization even if they never realize it.  As parents we probably all have pictures of our kids in the bathtub or some other such adorable naked pictures reserved for blackmail and embarrassment on first dates, but are those really the pictures we want to make public?  I know I have a fabulous shot of my youngest standing at a railing looking at a mountain and a gust of wind had blown up her dress revealing that her underwear had given her a wedgie when she was about 3.  It is probably one of my favorite pictures because it is just too darn precious, but it will never leave the confines of the family. 

I get that he is an artist, and this is his craft.  I also get that the intention behind these photos are pure innocence, and I can see the innocence there.  I'm just not sure that these pictures are appropriate to be posting online.  Perhaps in an art gallery or something of that nature where they are less accessible to the world.  I'm not saying what he did is 100% wrong, but I'm not saying it's 100% right either.  I'm thinking that his intentions were really good, and perhaps it could have been handled better.  But I will say this, after his original posting of the photos the amount of hate mail this man received was phenomenal, and I think totally undeserved.  The things people said to him and about him were horrible, rude, and nasty.  And honestly, if your first thought when you look at those images of that little girl is pornography then you are the one with the sick mind.  And I think he handled the feedback brilliantly.

If you are interested in seeing it all please check out the link above.  Also, the Huffington Post did an article about the whole fiasco which is here.


  1. I looked at the pictures and saw nothing that I have not seen in the photo albums in a majority of friends' homes. I think the difference is that he posted his works of art while others hide them away until they want to embarrass the child/children with the pictures they took.
    However, as a person who worries also worries about children, I wonder if he might have been better served to only show these photos in a gallery for a show. Unfortunately we in the United States will cry censor for art but cry freedom of speech and expression for anything and everything else. The puritanical leanings that we still function under mean that any work of art that might not follow mainstream acceptance will have to find an alternative outlet (probably for the safety of all involved).

    1. I agree. That was pretty much where I was coming from.