For 50 years Jock Sturges has been photographing nude scenes on the coasts of California, France, and Ireland. Natural light is a true friend of the photographer. It’s the light that allows the author to show more than the body in his works. His models, regardless of age, shine with inner light and calmness. They look attentively at the viewer, demanding to remember something very important. Something that each of us can lose when ruthless time drives us out of the Paradise of Childhood and Youth. Inner freedom, beauty, the youth of his models inspire the photographer throughout life.
Most of his portraits were created by Jock Sturges using a bulky full-format camera with an 8×10 inches frame. However, the digital negatives of this photo exhibition were taken with the legendary Leica camera. The subjects of the images are reminiscent of the classical painting of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and are rich in textures, details, physical and psychological nuances.
In society, the naked body, especially the female body, ceased to be something divine. Its image increasingly has an explicit sexual connotation and is objectified or is a commodity. But this was not always the case. The body lost its sacredness, which was well felt by the Romans and Greeks, in the dark ages, when Christianity put on it the brand of sinfulness and evil. Modern European culture paradoxically inherits both attitudes to the body. That is why the viewer of Jock Sturges can feel embarrassed, lost in the definitions between “perfection, beauty, grace, sensuality, eroticism, pornography.
He is constantly banned, persecuted, and accused of various sins. He shoots beautiful people, once again proving with his pictures how perfect a person is, how perfect is his body. Those who can see in his pictures something other than beauty, perfection, and innocence, should think about whether everything is normal with him.
Childhood and adolescence
Jock was born in 1947 in New York City. Little is known about the children’s years of the future photographer, he studied at a regular high school, and after its completion went on to serve in the army, which was held in Japan. Already there, the young man learned the first basics of photography and eventually became the chief photographer of the military base.
Returning home in 1970, Sturges moved to Vermont, and there went to Marlborough College, where he studied pedagogical psychology. After receiving his education, the young man did not start working in his specialty. He travels around educational institutions and part-time, teaching the art of photography.
After choosing this type of art, Jock Sturges moves to San Francisco and already there enters the local Art Institute, while continuing to work hard. In the summertime, he visits beaches in California, Ireland, and France, where men’s attention is attracted by nudists, whom he takes pictures for his collection.
The passion of an adult man to shoot teenage girls naked soon attracted the attention of law enforcement agencies. In 1990, the first scandal happened to the name of Jock. The apartment in San Francisco was broken into by police and FBI representatives. Then the man’s cameras and computers were confiscated, as well as a large number of photos and negatives.
U.S. investigators have been working on this case for over a year, trying to gather as much evidence as possible on Jock Sturges. However, he was defended by the European and American art communities, which later greatly influenced the course of the case. The court did not press any charges against the photographer, and the actions of the police and FSB officers were called wrongful.
After this scandalous event, many people started to talk about Jock. While previously the man was known for his photographic work in narrow circles, after the story was covered in the media, ordinary people who did not attend photo exhibitions learned about him. He decided to use it, began to organize shows, and demonstrated his works at group photo shows, released about 10 personal albums, which were eagerly bought.
However, it was not for long that Jock enjoyed the acquired popularity. In the late 1990s, he became interested in American Protestant communities, whose representatives visited stores selling men’s works and demanded that they are destroyed. The community’s actions were successful; in Alabama, Sturges’ photographs were banned because, in the court’s opinion, they were intimate and showed persons under the age of 17 in the nude.
Jock himself was saddened by the situation. Critics accused him of trying to gain popularity through the numerous scandals surrounding his name. Although Sturges himself explains that this situation arose against his will, the man was just doing what he liked.
However, not everything is so bad in the career of a photographer. There are also those who support the man, and his works are highly appreciated. For example, the American writer Jennifer McMahon used Sturges’ photos to decorate the covers of her three books. Besides, they even made a film about the man’s life, which was released in Germany in 2008, and in 2016 it could be seen by Russian viewers.
Not so many facts are known about the personal life of the photographer. A man has a wife and children. The daughter Fanny is a foster child of the family. Jock told about it in his interview. The request to take the girl in the care of her own mother was sent to Sturges before committing suicide. He fulfilled his girlfriend’s last request and since then Fanny has been living with them.
By the way, the girl was the main model of Sturges all the years of his work. After she got to the new house, Fanny did not get off her father’s knees, and when she was 5 years old, she asked why she did not have a photo. Since then, the man began photographing his daughter and has been doing it for over 30 years.
Jock Sturgis now
Nothing unusual has happened recently around the name of the photographer, he still continues to do photography and, despite numerous conflicts, adheres to the chosen concept.
Fans of Sturges’ work hope that in 2020 they will see his new works, while the man is looking for models to shoot “nu”.