Sunday, July 1, 2018


I was thinking about how to depict voyeurism without jumbling it up with exhibitionism (although I maintain that they are two sides of the same coin), seeing as how every time I photograph an act of voyeurism, the photographing of the voyeur inevitably turns him into an exhibitionist. Then I had a revelation: don't photograph the voyeur, photograph only what the voyeur is looking at!

Yet, still, I'm wondering if a voyeuristic view of a nude sunbather does not also constitute a photograph of exhibitionism, because the scene the voyeur is looking at - the nude sunbather - could be construed as a depiction of exhibitionism, particularly as it is being photographed. To provide another example, if you peek through a keyhole at two people engaged in intercourse, you're engaging in voyeurism. But if you photograph the view through that keyhole and then share it with other voyeurs, it becomes an exhibition (albeit unintended by the participants). Are you getting a sense of the webs I'm tangled in?

So I thought, maybe if the sunbather wasn't actually nude, (s)he could be considered less of an exhibitionist. But hell, you can't tell me that wearing a bikini is significantly less of an exhibitionist act (and, indeed, some nudists would tell you it's more so). But I don't know how interesting it would be to shoot a voyeuristic photo of somebody who's dressed - and is that what voyeurs are really looking for anyway?

Similarly, I could shoot a voyeur who's dressed, to de-emphasize the exhibitionist nature of him being photographed, but then isn't the point of voyeurism (at least in terms of it being a sexual fetish) finding some kind of sexual stimulus? Which usually leads to a sex act of its own? I'm not asking these questions because I'm ignorant of the mechanics of voyeurism and exhibitionism (duh), but to depict them photographically, it would seem that if I didn't emphasize the sexual aspect, there would be a vague boundary between one person looking at another person, and one person looking at another person for distinctly sexual reasons.

I suppose, being a voyeur and an exhibitionist, I have a hard time differentiating the two. Not that I don't understand that voyeurism encompasses the looking aspect, and that exhibitionism encompasses the 'being looked at' aspect, but it just seems to me that neither one is as good as when the two come together - voyeurs looking at exhibitionists, and exhibitionists in turn being looked at by voyeurs. Especially in our highly pro-consent culture. Isn't that the ideal?

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