Jock Sturges: Photographer or Pornographer?

The Narrative Of Jock Sturges and Issues he Faced with Child Pornography Charges:
Jock Sturges is a world renowned photographer. His standing straddles the invisible line separating fine art from lewd porn. Sturges is well called a photographer of nudists (naturists). He concentrated his efforts on creating graphics of mostly and girls. The subjects ranged in age from adults to young children.
It was the pictures of nude young children that first began the legal firestorm. Many folks in society today are still divided about the depiction of minors in nude photography.
Is Sturges a accurate visual artist and leader? Or has he truly transgressed into the world of child pornography?
In the late 1980s and early 1990s Jock Sturges was making headlines and not for the right motives. For the younger folks who might be reading this, back in the day people needed to take rolls of film to be developed which was just what Jock did. Regrettably for Jock, some tech saw the photographs and alerted the FBI to the possibility of child pornography / endangerment.
In July of 1990 numerous photos and photography equipment belonging to Sturges were usurped by the authorities and held as evidence. At the time, the pictures were discovered to be sexually explicit in nature. Thus a wide-scale child pornography case was looming on the horizon.
Politicians, analysts and some members of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors declared that these images were sorts of art. Additionally they insisted that since these were not pornographic pictures of underage children, Sturges was protected by the First Amendment. They argued that he had the Constitutional right to freely express himself through his selection of artistic endeavors.
Following a drawn-out investigation that cost him $100,000 in legal fees, Sturges inevitably won the conflict in September of 1991. After seventeen months of legal wrangling and obscenity charges, a federal grand jury declined to indite Jock Sturges as he was not guilty of any crime. Prosecutors were shocked when they discovered the verdict.
The “naturist” photos of girls and children taken by Sturges could be found in books being sold through major retailers across the country (one of these retailers was Barnes & Noble). During the earlier mentioned investigation some people had gone to local bookstores and took it upon themselves to destroy any of these books they could discover.
Following this landmark legal decision, the drama continued for quite some time. There was a continued push by certain people to have these photography books branded or at the minimum, labeled as obscene content.
Another attempt was made to have two of his novels classified as child pornography – “The Last Day of Summer” in addition to “Radiant Identities.” This effort to ban his novels in Alabama and Tennessee was unsuccessful.
Regrettably, the FBI had a way of permanently censoring artists like Jock. He says in an interview, “There are pictures I don’t shoot now that I previously would have taken without any thought at all. I’d photograph anything. Now I understand there are specific poses and angles which make folks see red, which are signs of original sin or something, and I avoid that. But it’s hard.” And who can blame him for confining himself as an artist when one innocent photograph can turn someone into a child pornographer?
Even some parents were taken in for investigation in the 90s after photo laboratory technicians reported a photograph of a naked kid in their roll of film (the parents’ own kids of course). Perhaps this still occurs to parents today, but the digital age has made it easier to keep family pictures private. However, things have gotten more absurd since now kids themselves are facing child pornography charges from “sexting”!
Regardless, we have included a couple of images of Sturges’ work below. In our view, these images and his other works are not pornographic or sexual by any stretch of the imagination. The scandal has seemingly been the result of a widespread panic and paranoia surrounding pedophiles and . Sturges also imputes it to the way American society is so hung-up about sex and the manner it refuses to recognize children as sexual beings. He states in exactly the same interview: “Western civilization insists on these concrete demarcations. Before 18, you don’t exist sexually; after 18, you exist like crazy. It is preposterous.
Photograph by Jock Sturges Young Girl Nude
Christina by Jock Sturges
Naked Mom and Child By Jock Sturges
Radiant Identities: Photographs by Jock Sturges