Analysing the traffic logs for my website and blog I have noticed that one of the search terms that people use to come to my site is mature nudes and a variety of derivative terms.
It is quite a mystery. If you search for portrait photographer on google.co.uk., you will find me on page one of a total of nearly three million search results and on page two for photographer, out of a total of 82 million results. I am not, however, so well placed for the search term mature nudes, so all this traffic originating from this search term is strange.
One possibility is that mature represents a fetish, a fantasy or a kink, although this particular penchant seems to sit around in a niche, twiddling its thumbs and waiting for the masses to discover it. The Google UK search engine finds only about 2.4 million search results for mature nudes, not a huge number in the wider context of the Internet.
There is another explanation: Around 80% of my clients are private clients. Of those, just under half come to me for lingerie or nude portraits, roughly the same number men and women and, increasingly, couples. Many of them are at an age that may be considered mature.
Writing this, I realise that I am struggling to make sense of my thoughts because the concept of beauty and age is riddled with inconsistencies and contradictions.
There is no doubt that we grow older later in life. When I was a child, people in their twenties could be considered young at a stretch, especially if they had long hair and donned a pair of jeans. People in their thirties were seriously grown up. Forties was statically past it. Fifties definitely old bordering on the derelict and many people promptly died upon reaching their retirement in their sixties. Live to the age of 75 and the local mayor would hand-deliver a bouquet of flowers for your birthday. Any older than that and you were a miracle.
Conversely and surely strangely, maturity happened around 45 whilst today it seems to have crept to a mere 30 years of age without anybody noticing what was happening and pointing out to maturity that it was heading the wrong way.
Today, we expect (and are expected) to live long in relative health, fitness and happiness. We expect to have a fulfilled life at an age when our grandparents were putting money aside for their funerals. Shame, though, that my generation won’t have the money to finance their golden years.
The term mature is in itself problematic. Whilst there is nothing wrong with it per se – on the contrary, who would not want to be experienced and as wise as a Buddhist monk? – it becomes laden with pre-conceptions and is almost derogatory when used as in “mature women” because it implies that the passing of time erodes beauty and desirability.
The problem is considerably worse for women than for men because it is women who are expected to compete with teenagers for beauty and desirability, driven by a sense of despair and alienation, which is kindled by magazines and advertising.
It is this pressure to conform to arbitrary and limiting classification standards, which creates the self-imposed expectations, which are always bound to disappoint. I believe that photography has a duty to examine such conflicts in society.
I dispute that the passing of time erodes beauty and desirability. My work in portrait photography centres on the individual and not their looks. I want to find and express the person in my photographs. I really do believe that attractiveness comes from the inside and has nothing to do whatsoever with looks. I call it inner beauty and age has nothing to do with it.
You can see some of my work with mature nudes in the nudes photography portfolio and in these blog posts:
Subscribe to this blog to be notified of updates and new posts.