Jock Sturges (born 1947, New York) is an American photographer, best known for his images of nude adolescents and their families.
Jock Sturges has long been a lightning rod for controversy for his distinctive brand of nude photography. Sturges shoots much of his work around nudist beaches in France and northern California, and his most frequent subjects have been adolescent girls. The photos have an undeniably erotic quality, unlike some types of nude photography that treat the human body more as abstract form. However, Sturges aims to draw out the models’ own sense of burgeoning sexuality in a straightforward, personal, non-voyeuristic way. Sturges uses a large-format camera to create extremely detailed, finegrained images, while his strong feel for sunlight bathes his models and settings with a shimmering quality. In his writings, Sturges prides himself on the bonds of trust, friendship and collaboration between the photographer, the models and their families. Many of his photographs depict several generations naked together.
Some critics have condemned his work as thinly disguised underage pornography hiding behind the mantle of fine art. To be fair, the market for Sturges’s books certainly includes a great many adult males who like looking at naked teenage girls and who have little use for the photographs’ artistic qualities. Sturges and his defenders sometimes disingenuously proclaim the “innocence” of his pictures of nude adolescents. In a more legitimate line of argument, Sturges criticizes the arbitrary division of people and their bodies into sexualized adults (over 18) and supposedly asexual children (under 18). The question really is: Should tasteful, non-exploitative erotic photography of adolescents be allowed? Is such a thing even possible? The photography of Jock Sturges presents a powerful case for the affirmative.