Jock Sturges: Photographer or Pornographer?

The Story Of Jock Sturges and Issues he Faced with Child Pornography Charges:
Jock Sturges is a world renowned photographer. His reputation straddles the invisible line separating fine art from lewd pornography. Sturges is well called of nudists (naturists). He concentrated his efforts on creating images of mainly women and girls. The subjects ranged in age from adults to young kids.
It was the photos of naked young children that first began the legal firestorm. Many folks in society today are still divided about the depiction of minors in nude photography.
Is Sturges a true visual artist and pioneer? Or has he truly transgressed into the universe of child pornography?
In the late 1980s and early 1990s Jock Sturges was making headlines and not for the right motives. Regrettably for Jock, some technician saw the photographs and alerted the FBI to the possibility of child pornography / endangerment.
In July of 1990 numerous photos and photography equipment belonging to Sturges were usurped by the authorities and held as evidence. At the time, the pictures were ascertained to be sexually explicit in nature. Hence a broad-scale child pornography case was looming on the horizon.
Many legal experts in San Francisco supported Jock Sturges. Politicians, analysts and some members of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors declared that these pictures were sorts of art. Additionally they insisted that since these were not pornographic images of under-age children, Sturges was protected by the First Amendment. They argued that he had the Constitutional right to freely express himself through his pick of artistic enterprises.
Following a drawn out investigation that cost him $100,000 in legal fees, Sturges inevitably won the battle in September of 1991. Prosecutors were shocked when they heard the conclusion.
During the previously mentioned investigation some individuals had gone to local bookstores and took it upon themselves to destroy any of these books they could discover.
After this landmark legal decision, the play continued for quite some time. T here was a sustained drive by certain people to have these photography publications branded or at the very least, labeled as obscene material.
In 1998 the controversy got its second wind. Another effort was made to have two of his publications classified as child pornography – “The Last Day of Summer” as well as “Radiant Identities.” This effort to ban his novels in Alabama and Tennessee was unsuccessful.
Regrettably, the FBI had a way of forever censoring artists like Jock. He says in an interview, “There are photos I don’t take now that I formerly would have shot without any thought at all. Before, I did not believe there was anything more or less obscene about any part of the body. I’d photograph anything. Now I recognize there are certain positions and angles that make people see red, which are signs of original sin or something, and I prevent that. But it’s tough.” And who can blame him for confining himself as an artist when one innocent photograph can turn someone into a child pornographer?
Even some parents were taken in for investigation in the 90s after picture laboratory technicians reported a picture of a naked child in their own roll of film (the parents’ own children of course). Perhaps this still happens to parents today, but the digital age has made it much easier to keep family pictures private. Yet, things have gotten more absurd since today children themselves are facing child pornography charges from “sexting”!
Regardless, we’ve included a couple of images of Sturges’ work below. In our view, these images and his other works are not pornographic or sexual by any stretch of the imagination. The scandal appears to have been the consequence of a prevalent fear and paranoia surrounding pedophiles and child pornography. Sturges also credits it to the way American society is so hung-up about sex and the manner it refuses to recognize children as sexual beings. He states in the same interview: “Western civilization insists on these concrete demarcations. Before 18, you do not exist sexually; after 18, you exist like crazy. It is preposterous. The truth is that from birth on, Homo sapiens is, to one extent or another, a pretty sexual species.”
Photo by Jock Sturges Young Girl Nude
Nude Mom and Child By Jock Sturges
Radiant Identities: Photographs by Jock Sturges