You should all know my opinion by now, erotica does not need to be blatant, it can be subtle – I believe that it should be subtle – and it should simply excite the imagination and spur individual fantasies onwards towards each their own ultimate goal. I’ve probably written this ideal more times than anything else, but it is something which still confuses those who mix the erotic with the blatant, pornography with nude art – as written in an earlier post.
Photo Source: e-hotsex
But what do I mean when using the word subtle? Merriam-Webster have several different explanations: delicate, elusive, perceptive and refined fall into their description of the word and all, when it comes to erotic works of art – be they photographic or other mediums of expression – fit perfectly. We can all be subtle, we can all be brazen. It depends on how we, or those portraying us and their various subjects, see it.
Photo Source: nudecelebforum
Subtle is a little hint, a small indication that there is more if we search for it, if we look further, explore. It can be an indication that there is more behind the words, that there is more – as if we didn’t already know it just from looking – beyond what we can actually see. Subtle is something we need to learn about, something we need to think over. It can be fairly obvious, it can be very well hidden but, in all cases, it should not be set out so clearly that we know immediately, that we can see exactly what is meant. It should be something which gets us thinking, gets those millions of gray cells working away until we have built up our own picture, our own words.
Photo Source: imgur
It can also be the look in a person’s eyes, their whole expression or body language. A subtle flirt which calls for a reaction rather than someone coming up to us and saying outright what they’re thinking, what they want. Of course, that has its place too, but it isn’t quite so exciting, quite so inviting. It doesn’t necessarily get the conversation rolling along, it can be too quick, to forward, even offensive. Few people, if they have something more intimate in mind, really want to be offensive; we all know that it rarely works in our favor.
Being subtle, creating something subtle, is not an easy task, it needs to be learned and it needs to be practiced. That’s where this word elusive comes in to play, just as much for the meaning of the word subtle as for how it really works. In conversation, subtlety is something which can zoom right over the heads of some people, get completely lost because it is too elusive, because it has too much hidden depth. It’s not always easy to see exactly how much a person is likely to understand – let’s get right down to it, how intelligent they are – at a glance. A fashion-diva blond woman is not necessarily going to be a zero in quantum physics just because of her looks and dress whilst a shy librarian constantly pushing her glasses back up her nose might only be a literary specialist in the latest edition of Sailor Moon.
Photo Source: expic
This can all be translated into erotic photography, erotic art and writing and even the eroticism of real life. There is more behind what we see, what we experience than a first glance can possibly reveal, and that is a good thing. If everything is laid bare – literally – from the get go, what else is there? What is there to explore, what is there to enjoy? We’ve seen it all and that’s that. Fine, there is also the experience, in real life, of physical exploration, but without the subtleties of exploration, getting to know one another, it isn’t really all that much. It’s like sex without foreplay: for the one side it is fine, not good, but fine, for the other a disappointment because, perhaps, it was all too fast and they really weren’t quite at that point where it would be more than a quickie.
Not that quickies are bad, but there is a time and a place, a mood and a certain need and they are not constant. I once read a man writing off foreplay by saying he didn’t need it: he already had his erection and it’s not his fault that his partner wasn’t wet. That, I think you’ll agree, is the opposite end of subtle!
Photo Source: ruero
So what we’re looking at here is sexual subtlety, in words, expressions, contact and images. We’re looking at something which gets the imagination going and inspires to further exploration, to conversation and, perhaps, to a meeting of minds, a meeting of bodies. Not quite so easy when you’re considering just photographic images, but all are not everything and all do not appear at the same time. They’re not all necessary, it depends on the situation. Few people hold a conversation with a photographic image but there can be a meeting of minds between what the photographer wishes to convey and what the viewer experiences. When that happens, the photograph is a success.
Subtlety in words and expression. Words, well, I think we can all work that one out. Not being too forward and coming out with all your desires and intentions in the first three minutes of a conversation, depending on the situation. Subtlety through body language: we can all express ourselves through gestures, through a look, through a simple smile. Sometimes, across a crowded room, in polite company, we have no other weapons in our arsenal.
Photo Source: vk
Subtlety in images? Several of the photographs I’ve used for this post are subtle, and I am sure you can see exactly which ones I mean. There are little peeps, hints if you will, rather than a full blown view. Little slips which allow a glimpse of what is hidden, what is elusive. They may be planned that way, I would be surprised if they are not, or they may well be real accidents, works of fate rather than intention. We are, after all, looking at works designed to be erotic, and hiding too much is much the same as showing too much; it simply doesn’t work. We cross the line between what is subtle and what is blatant, what is erotic and that which is every day ordinary. The photograph directly above this, for example, would still be erotic if it was even more subtle, if we couldn’t see the nipple fully exposed, if just the outline was visible.
Photo Source: smutty
But erotic photography needs to tell a story as well. It needs to pull the viewer in and give them something more than just an ordinary image, it needs to give them a story to begin with, an idea. I can see any number of women every single day of the week who are dressed in t-shirt or a loose blouse, who wear skirts or pants. An image, though, needs to stand out a little bit more, it needs to take the level one step further and away from the ordinary, every day view we get on the street, in the office, in the mall. It needs to bring the body language over which we, because it is a still image, cannot otherwise experience. It needs to convey something of life from a moment that is long gone and can never be repeated. It needs to bring the story into the viewer’s mind and awaken their interest.
Photo Source: smutty
Perhaps that is why, certainly in erotic works, less is a little bit better. Not too little and not too much. Enough to have a person, if the work is hanging in a gallery or on a web page, stop and look rather than walk, or surf, by with just a fleeting glance. If an erotic photograph is too blatant there is no need to pause. The mind registers it, the eyes move on. A subtle photograph or image forces the viewer to pause, to look, to explore and imagine.
So with real life. A subtle hint, a carefully placed word, a movement or expression, gesture which invites more rather than telling everything in a split second. A good erotic work is like an effective insult. It takes a while before the true meaning has sunken in, been registered in the mind of the viewer. Then, and only then, is it a success.
Love & Kisses, Viki.