If you troll around the internet looking for porn, you may stumble upon the genre of “creep shot.” (Or, “creepshot.”) This is when a photographer takes a photo of an unknowing model, usually in public. I think I learned this term at Girls in Yoga Pants. Or maybe at Black Sheep Candids (a site that no longer exists, but, when I wrote this post, was filled with furtive photos of non-consenting subjects/objects). Given my porn preferences – generally speaking, I’d rather look at women in clothes than out of them – this sort of site appeals to me.
But there’s an ethical problem. Or is there?
In general, the women on these sites have not consented to the use of their images for my wanking pleasure. But they have ventured forth on the street (or the subway, or wherever), and by so doing, consented to my SEEING them.
Occasionally, I have taken my own creep shots, furtive shots of beautiful women (almost always) taken in public. (Note: I did take creep shots – in the years since this post was written, my thinking – and you can read it here on this site – has evolved – and I haven’t taken a “creep shot” since about a week or two after the date of this post.) There’s something odd about this behavior on my part. More than anything, what’s odd about it is this: I almost never have gone back to admire my photography, to admire my subjects. No, it’s akin to the journals I keep: it seems their purpose is fulfilled simply by my keeping them, by capturing them. When I write in my journal (or here in this blog, for that matter), more than anything, the act of writing is itself the purpose. I rarely re-read what I’ve written. My navel-gazing impulse is satisfied simply by the recording of my thought. So too with the images of these beautiful women. Is it an assertion of my power – to capture their images, and keep them? Or something else? I mean, the “violation” is simply in the moment of the capture of the image.
I don’t know about this – my opinions are unformed [ed. note: they were unformed when I wrote this, a while ago. Keep reading on this blog, and you’ll see them as they form.]. On the one hand, they’re called “creep shots” for a reason – there is something creepy about taking them, and something even creepier about sharing them, posting them for others. In other words: when I take such pictures, I’m a creep – sure. But am I a bad person?
What harm is done? I’m not sure. What do you think?
Note: Here’s an interesting Guardian article on the question.