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Erotic and glamour photography together constitute what is arguably the most controversial genre of photographic art. Images of naked people in suggestive or provocative poses are inevitably seen very differently by viewers from different cultures and backgrounds. The genre unfortunately carries the heavy burden of work done in poor taste and which is harshly and justifiably condemned. Other work is done in a more thoughtful and considered way and is seen, at least by some people, as beautiful.

Taste and decency worldwide are measured against a wide range of standards, and judgements of what is acceptable are made against a background of cultural differences and personal opinions. It is impossible even in a single location to reach agreement on what constitutes art or soft pornography, so achieving broader agreement is probably a hopeless task. For these reasons, any photographer who undertakes work with the genres should be prepared for all sorts of comment and criticism form both informed and uninformed sources.

The roots of glamour photography may be found way back at the end of the nineteenth century when well-known people were photographed in "glamorous" style to promote their careers and accomplishments. The world wars increased the popularity of the emerging genres as the demand for pin-up posters increased. Marilyn Monroe was one of the first truly successful "glamour" models.

In the modern world, glamour models are photographed for all sorts of purposes. Their images are used to sell products of every description and appear in newspapers and magazines, on television, on posters and billboards, and of course on the internet. Whether an individual approves or not, and whether a particular example of work is regarded as art or not, the genre is here to stay because it works commercially. In the western world it helps to sell newspapers, cars and almost any other product that comes to mind. The problem in the age of the global village is principally one of taste and acceptability, particularly with young people and cultural sensitivities in mind.


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