Piracy and the Problem With Nudes

Anyone who shoots as many nudes as I have during the course of my career knows that at some point or another an image will be pirated. Okay, it sucks but it’s a fact of life for men and woman who shoot nudes for publication with any photographer. It could be a misplaced Polaroid, or trashed outtake, or simply the stealing of a published jpeg from a book or magazine — and piracy is committed.

The music industry has had it’s hands full with this for years and photographers all know that at some point or another it will happen to them.

Contracts with talent don’t matter to people who are in the business of exploiting others for their own personal gain. All we can do as an industry is to send cease and desist letters to the offending parties and hope it clears things up promptly. It usually does.

The only other option is to simply opt out of shooting nudes at all, because once they’re published, they’re available to the entire world to see no matter what any contract says to the contrary.

This is life in the digital age.

Once you go down the road of shooting nudes, you there forever.

Either own it or Just Say No.

The Reality of Film

First of all, no instant gratification. Zippo. That’s when you lean on years of experience and tell your clients not to worry. It’s part of the process; part of the art, craft and science of traditional photography.

Imagine taking a canvas away from a painter and replacing it with a computer monitor and you’ll understand where I’m going.

In my case, I only shoot in black and white. So I don’t have to worry about color balance, not that the rest is just as complicated.

First,  I use 30 second Instant Film for the lighting. And once I’m satisfied that everything is as I intended, I go to film, which must then go to the lab for processing.

If this sounds dicey, it is. But it’s also why my photographic contracts and day rates were five times higher back in the day than what photographers commonly see today. There was no room for error, and no way to “fix” problems. Your job was to nail it, and if you didn’t, you were never hired again.

This forced us to be more careful, to concentrate more on each and every frame, and to squeeze as much life as possible from the subjects, because we only had one shot at it.

This topic is a controversial one, and I’m not here to disparage anyone from using digital cameras and its joined-at-the-hip stepchild, Adobe Photoshop. I use both. But not for my fine art.

I like rolling film, going into a darkroom and not knowing every nuance of what was recorded until the contact sheets are in hand.

And I like relying on my experience, talent and hard work to produce the results I’m after. And if for some reason it doesn’t happen, I have to start all over again, which I try never to do.

This effort and attention to exacting detail explain why were were in a class of our own and damn proud of it.

Art is Reflection

Andy Warhol may not have been the world’s greatest painter, but he was the world’s greatest reflector of our age. He exposed the world for what it had become. The same applies to people like Marilyn Manson, and in the world of photography, people like me. My work is not designed to hang in your garden variety family room. It’s reflective of themes most people keep to themselves. I probably don’t need to repeat this.


I just launched this fine art site, my first, after a long career in commercial photography. I’m a film guy, so anyone still interested in this medium should feel free to comment. I even accept comments from people who believe that digital is the answer to all their prayers. Hey, I have CS4 on all my Macs, so don’t feel left out. You may also like jayrusovichlive.com, if your interests lie more in the realm of gender battles in Urbania.