“The photographs are posed stilted, unreal; why don’t you photographers depict us as we really are?” It is an oft-repeated criticism. Balancing it, we also hear an occasional compliment, such as: “How is it that your pictures have that more candid, at-ease quality?”

To answer both questions, we have to go back a couple of decades.

The AMERICAN style of nudist photography developed because not everyone in a given activity or situation on nudist resort grounds would permit themselves to be photographed. Almost always, opportunities to do candid, unposed photographs –the kind of spontaneous photograph known to express the freedom nudism offers –were lost in the struggle to obtain necessary permission and releases. Thus, though the greatest need was to illustrate group activity, the problems facing most photographers made it easier for them to work primarily with the single figure, or at most a few people. And that is how the style evolved.

I had long ago determined that, in order to find fulfillment in my work, everything possible should be done to illustrate the fact that many people participate in nudist activity. Because of this conviction, I tried to demonstrate all of the many facets of the nudist idea, from single figures studies to crowd scenes. The very best of my pictures, I soon found, were made when it had been possible to obtain prior permission from all of the subjects. Such an arrangement enabled me to move among them freely, taking pictures at a moment’s picture, capturing the precious moment without invading anyone’s privacy. Fifteen years ago this was relatively easy to do. Today, with so many more people on the grounds of nudist resorts, it is more difficult to shoot freely, anywhere on the premises, scenes of candid action in which groups of relaxed nudists can be shown enjoying themselves. In attempting to cope with this latter-day difficulty (ironically enough, partly created by the successful appeal of photographs published in the nudist press), I have occasionally gathered willing and cooperative subjects with common objectives to do the kind of nudist photography –away from the resorts– that could convey to the world the intrinsic value of the nudist idea, a casual and matter-of-fact attitude toward nudity. That is the purpose of my work and the basis of my photo tours. They fill that need.

In the future, some of these trips will be to the grounds of established nudist resorts, cosponsored by club management and Elysium, Inc. Participants will be asked to cooperate in helping to make the kind of photographs we all know are needed and which, I am convinced, are most representative of the nudist idea.

Ed Lange

(Source: The Bulletin, Volume 13, No. 7, July 1964)

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