PetaPixel

Photographer Accused of Posting ‘Pornographic’ Photos of His 2-Year-Old, Here’s How He Responded

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Wyatt Neumann is a photographer and father who last year took his two-year-old daughter Stella on a road trip across the country, documenting their travels as they went. Along the way he captured beautiful landscapes, pictures of the open road, as well as a handful of adorable images of Stella wearing what two-year-olds very often wear: a fairy dress or nothing at all.

Normally, when put in a family photo album or a personal collection to show off to friends, this sort of subject matter isn’t an issue. But, as Neumann found out the hard way, these nude but non-explicit images engendered an entirely different reaction when he posted them online.

As the trip progressed, Neumann shared the images from his travels with his daughter through Facebook and Instagram. Until, that is, about halfway through the road trip when the images began drawing criticism from people the world over.

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The public backlash of the images brought a hailstorm of critics who called them “perverse,” “sick” and “pornographic.” Specifically, a group from the website Get Off My Internets began verbally attacking Neumann for publishing these images after a forum thread drew more attention to the photos than he had ever anticipated.

Before long, members of the site sent out a plethora of complaints to both Facebook and Instagram and managed to get Neumann’s profiles suspended. Eventually reinstated, it was the broad criticism of both him and his daughter and the suspension of his accounts that lead Neumann to realize this was a matter of freedom of expression and the freedom of speech.

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It was then that he came up with the idea to turn these images into a gallery and accompanying book. Aptly titled I FEEL SORRY FOR YOUR CHILDREN: The Sexualization of Innocence in America, The Safari Gallery exhibition and book take what Neumann hopes is an honest look at what childhood is and what it’s been turned into. As he explains in his artist statement:

What’s troubling is the abject reviling of the human body, the intense and overt sexualization of the natural form, especially the naked bodies of carefree young children, who have yet to feel the burden of institutionalized body image awareness and the embarrassment that comes with adolescence. My children are free, they live without shame.

As part of the series, the gallery and book featured images from their entire road trip, not just of Stella. And along with each image comes a comment, one of the comments left on the nude or semi-nude photos of Stella by the people who were so offended by those images.

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Neumann says he is committed to “showcas[ing] the lives [his children] get to live, express myself, and catalog the reality of my children’s experience.” As for the online critics who had more than a handful of words to share with Neumann in regards to the images of his naked child, his closing statement seems to sum it up fairly well:

So the choice seems clear: do we live in fear and condemnation? Or do we celebrate one another, and ourselves, in this life? I choose to believe in our ability to fight fear with love, ignorance with understanding, and to unite rather than divide. But you be the judge… is this pornography, art, expression, or exploitation. It’s up to us to either cower in fear, or liberate ourselves and live.

Below are a number of images Neumann was kind enough to share with us, presented as they were in the exhibition: alongside the critical, hateful and often vulgar words of anonymous strangers who commented on the images of Stella:

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“This man is a sick f**k. Why in the world would you do this to your child? Great job, Wyatt Neumann. That poor little girl…” -Ships Go Overboard aka It Burns, April 26, 2014 6:23pm

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“He’s an attention seeking f**k. Wake up, Wyatt, you f**king piece of s**t.” -SelenaKyle, April 26, 2014 8:59am

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“He seems like a d**k. I want to puke. The nude photos are gross and disturbing.” -tunawhiskers, April 25, 2014 4:09pm

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“Every good thing you are and every good thing you do is cancelled out by the fact that you exploit your children. You truly have no right to do this to them.” -skeptical girl is skeptical, April 26, 2014 1:55pm

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“Way to serve your daughter up on a plate, sicko. I will be sure to email you directly when I find this image being traded on the deep web, Wyatt, you sick f**k.” -your mirror lied to you, April 26, 2014 10:27am

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“I doubt she’ll ever be in a real school, have any real friends, or develop any real attachments to anything because that would be counterproductive to the isolation her parents probably want to keep her and her brother in. I’ll bet the only people they’re around are their parents ‘like-minded’ adult friends, a healthy portion of which are probably pedophiles that they’re too blind to see are right there waiting to get their children alone for 5 minutes.” -NamelyThis, April 26, 2014 12:47pm

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“I am a licensed clinical social worker and I work with abused children and adults every day. I have listened to children tell me about their parents selling them for sex to buy drugs, about parents who locked them away in closets for hours at a time without food or water because they wouldn’t stop crying, about parents who beat their children to within an inch of their life, just for being a child. Wyatt, you clearly hold yourself to a higher esteem than those people, but I don’t. You are no better than they are.”

Here’s a feature of Neumann by Vocativ (warning: contains strong language):


To learn more about this project or see any of Neumann’s other work, be sure to visit his website by clicking here.

(via Huffington Post)


Image credits: Photographs by Wyatt Neumann and used with permission


 
  • Ivor Wilson

    It’s fairly obvious what he’s up to… controversial for the kicks. Loves the attention. The more acerbic the response the better… job done. Classic troll, and (apparently) extremely proud of it. Personality traits of the damaged mind. A psychology essay in the writing.

    /must stop babbling. :)

  • Roberta Beckert

    Photographs are very good and photographer should have no shame in sharing them with the world. The perverts are the critics!

  • Roberta Beckert

    The world can’t revolve around perverts who criticize nudity and claim it is sexual. Anyone who sees sexuality in nude children is themselves sick.

  • Roberta Beckert

    Anyone who sees sexuality in images nude children is themselves sick. The world can’t revolve around perverts who criticize nudity and claim it is sexual.

  • Roberta Beckert

    You sound like a perv actually. The world can’t revolve around perverts who criticize nudity and claim it is sexual.

  • Andrea Hurley

    Criticizing what I view as poor parenting does not make me a pervert and the suggestion of such is ignorant. When you are a parent your world SHOULD revolve around protecting your children regardless of whether your artistic whims are stifled in the process. Anything less than everything you can do in your child’s best interests is purely selfish. I agree with your comment about anyone who sees the images as sexual being sick but let me kindly assure you that that does not apply to me. I may be reserved but that doesn’t mean that I see sexuality in this child. It’s the blatant denial and/or acceptance that REAL perverts WILL be finding sexual pleasure in this child’s images that is revolting.

  • muellerworks

    I wondered that too…

  • http://spinynorman.tumblr.com Spiny Norman

    Kudos to Petapixel for posting this essay. Tremendous work.

  • NM2000

    Good point. Also not really what I was criticizing at all. I’m far less concerned with the sexual pervert angle than the potential for future embarrassment and harassment from peers.

  • http://www.neighborhoodnotes.com Ken Aaron

    Andrea, I understand your concerns, even though I am not a parent. I have plenty of nieces and nephews that the scenario you describe disgust me too. However, nothing in my response says that I believe we are “supposed to perpetuate the crimes of child pornography”.

    I choose to not let others perversions dictate my life. I see Mr. Neumann’s work as art. I’m not ignorant, but I don’t run and hide either. The world is not a perfect place, each parent is free to decide on their own privacy, nothing in what I have said even hints at “as responsible adults, should have no privacy concerns or respect for our babies genitalia”. Thanks for trying to put words in my mouth.

    But making Mr Neumann into a villain does nothing but cause even more division. If Mr. Neumann is perpetuating a crime why not call law enforcement and have him arrested? Detail the crime he is committing and list the relevent laws that he is breaking.

    And please, just because we have different points of view and disagree, don’t conclude that I hold the polar opposite position and that I don’t have any of the concerns that you have. Your response insinuates that I somehow an complicite in perpatuating pedophilia just because I have a different opinion than you.

  • Max Hodges

    wow facebook doesn’t let me what a link to this site!

  • positively4thstreet

    Without the stir his daughter is causing nobody would look at his photos. There is absolutely nothing unusual or great about them.

  • positively4thstreet

    Oh puleeze…how often do you see an innocent child posing nude in the middle of a road? That is not natural innocent child behaviour. And aside from that it’s a technically crappy photo crappy color and the sky totally overexposed. He’s a bad photographer who can’t get noticed any other way.

  • positively4thstreet

    You seem to forget anybody who wants to can download photos today and use them however they want to. This is hardly ‘classic fine art paintings’ when this is a little girl everyone in the world may see and do anything they want with her image. She might not be so happy with this when she’s about 13 and going into high school. She apparently has no rights to privacy.

  • Shawn Aune

    What a great question. :) Perhaps you should ask it of somebody attacking Wyatt Neumann :)

  • Scott Summers

    Jesus people need to stop sexualizing toddlers. I see a child that’s having a blast and is open with her emotions, not hallmarks of abuse.

  • Bill Bingham

    Does anyone remember the Coppertone ad in which a dog pulls down the swimsuit bottom of a two year old, exposing her? Because that was an ad, it was very public. And that came out in the 1950s.

  • Timesamyth

    Haven’t we learned yet…..from “the people doth protesth too much” quote. Anti-gay campaigners are actually closeted gays, and the biggest perverts on this planet are trying to cover everyone up, because they can’t control their own sexuality, under the guise of morality. This whole issue is laughable, and makes it hard for me to sympathize with stupidity. Whoever the “licensed clinical social worker is” clearly is getting off on the tragedy in her clients’ lives. You can read it the very words that were written. Then there’s a separate group of people who actually had horrible, tragic lives, and don’t understand that most kids are not raised in homes where they are sexually exploited. They think that everyone is a monster because that’s what they experienced. However, there is such a poor understanding of what pedophiles enjoy apparently. Let me educate the public because I do pay attention to the real cases of child explotation. Most people have their secret underground supply of real child pornography. “Real” where they can see the suffering, and remain anonymous. They are not using material like this…..that’s not how the male brain works. The male brain prefers video and live coverage, if they cannot get their hands on the real thing. Artsy photography is not remotely child pornography. Not even the same species.

  • mosquitoguy

    The photos themselves aren’t “pornographic” .. the reason why he chose to take the pictures are. Obviously he thinks naked little girls are worth taking pictures of, whereas a “regular” person would choose to take clothed little girls instead of naked ones.

  • cookiepuss1966

    I would not be so troubled by these pictures except for one thing: I KNOW Wyatt Neumann! I’ve known him for about a decade, since long before he was a parent. I had to cut ties with him several years ago because he is literally the worst person I know. He’s a malignant narcissist and I have no doubt that this entire project and subsequent book and media circus are entirely about Wyatt getting attention for WYATT. It’s who he is. Do not be fooled into thinking this guy is about art. At best, he’s a hack and at his worst, he’s a nonstop user. My parents had a picture of me pants free at this age sitting on the pot. No one was confused that it was porn. Maybe the reason people are so up in arms about these pictures is because Wyatt’s true nature and intentions are showing through. He’s a genuinely bad person.

  • Joey Palumbo

    Are u people fuckin serious that you condone this stuff? What mind of sick phetophelia loving website is this? Sick people, this Wyatt, along with anybody else who distributes “his work” should be put in jail and be registered as a sex offender

  • Joey Palumbo

    This man should be in jail because this is child porn. Anybody who distributes this should be in jail for having possession of child porn.. This is just so sick, imagine how this girl is going to react when she’s old enough to understand her father exploiting her. These aren’t just family photos, or photos you take of your kids spur of the moment. She is on provocative poses and looks like a slut, it’s disgusting

  • Ivor Wilson

    “She is on provocative poses and looks like a slut”

    Are you sure you’re not seeing something from deep down inside yourself?

  • Sarah Milteer

    No, but I’m not a professional photographer – if I took pictures of this caliber than likely I would, yes. I do have pictures of my kids when aged two doing similar stuff to the photographer’s daughter – so his photos seem real and fun to me. One of my favourite photographers is Sally Mann – she got a lot of flack for her photographs, and really, her photos are amazing and beautiful.

  • Joey Palumbo

    Hands in pants, full nude body shot, no we aren’t talking a child without her shirt on, pulling her shirt up? Does that sound like sonething that would be in playboy or the opening scenes to a porno? Oh wait that’s probably next and you sickos will agree with it

  • Lett Lett

    he’s an artist. Period.

  • Lett Lett

    I agree with you totally, but would add that a sick pedophile could get off on fully clothed child as well.

  • Lett Lett

    I guess that’s what I was trying to see in my response to Natalie above. Well stated.

  • Guest

    You are missing the point. Would you hand this photo of your child willingly over to a pedophile? If he walked up to you and said I want to see your daughter half-naked, would you hand it over? Because regardless of your beliefs, or what you keep for your family photo album, once you publish them for the world to see, that is what you have done. What kind of father does that?

  • Tonja

    While I am replying to your post, Joey, I agree with you, and I want to be sure that you know my question isn’t directed toward you. I guess I should start a new thread, but I am really appalled at the reply to your post. I want to ask all of you who make these inane comparisons of foot fetishes and facebook pictures and all the pictures normal people keep in their baby books the question: If a pedophile in your neighborhood walked up to you in the street and asked for a half naked picture of your daughter, would you hand it to him? Because if you do, you don’t deserve to have a daughter, and if you post them on the internet, you are doing the exact same thing. Have some respect for yourself and your daughter and don’t do it.

  • Tonja

    Now there is something that makes sense.

  • Tonja

    WTF? Somebody should come and check your computer. K, psycho?

  • Tonja

    Hand a picture of your naked child to a pedophile, knowingly. Then call it art, call it whatever you want. You will be arrested. When you post them to the internet, that is what you are doing…handing your children’s image over to a pedophile to do as they please. God help any children you may have. You are missing that this isn’t an argument about right and wrong or what is art. It is about protecting your children. It is tough explaining parenting to a dolt.

  • Timesamyth

    I’ve located the paedophile. Do everyone a favor and lock yourself up away from children. Sick freak.

  • Timesamyth

    It’s very obvious from your other posts that you are hell bent on making children into sexual objects. Wrong on so many levels. I’m sorry your mother didn’t raise you better; it’s really more a matter of poor upbringing.