Image from the series ‘Fade To Black’ by Carl Beebee. 2014.
I recently read an article on the popular photography website fstoppers.com called “Censorship is Good for Photography. Seriously” The article explains, or rather argues, why censorship in photography is a good thing. It is of course the writers opinion and he offers valid points. But to me it is not a good thing. It is something that restricts creativity, opinion and thoughts. It simply holds artists back!
I want to make it clear here; i’m not in anyway supporting illegal images – only images that fall within the law. I’m also not talking about classification – where it is important to fall within age restrictions etc. If an image is “not safe for work” does that make it wrong? If it’s labelled “not safe for work” or ‘NSFW’ then to me it is fair game. It is after all, at the heart of it, personal preference. If someone wants to put the word “fuck” across their image is it inappropriate? Should it be censored?
I think we live in a world where we should all be able to offer our opinion with freedom and creativity. Surely, it’s a simple rule? – if you don’t like what you see then look away. Galleries, curators and the press already put so many restrictions on artists I feel that at times it prevents said artists from creating the work they actually want to create. As soon as that happens then they have lost their voice.
It’s so important to believe in your work, regardless of others opinions or thoughts. It has to have an honesty and an integrity to it in order for the artist to be themselves – not just as an artist but as a person. It is this trait that will blends personality into the work.
How will history view the censorship of photography? Well, look back in time at Hollywood – films such as ‘The Exorcist’, ‘Clockwork Orange’ and ‘The Texas Chain Saw Massacre’ were all banned in certain regions and countries. Today they have been re-introduced and are widely available – but perhaps more importantly, each in their own form is considered ground breaking and important. That is perhaps the biggest lesson to be learnt and the reason why I will always say “Censorship is bad for photography. Seriously.”