On Tuesday 24th of July, we posted a beautiful picture taken by Knas Vang on our Instagram account. The fine art photograph depicts a young woman lying naked in a field of wheat, looking away from the camera and appearing to be trying to sit up.
Just like all the pictures we share on our social media channels, this piece of work is stunning. Sombre, morose, moving, it evokes many emotions in the viewer. Just like most of our other pictures, it was picked for its colour theme, which complimented that of the pictures posted in the few days before it.
But, unlike the rest of the content we post, this picture received a lot more attention than our usual posts. What caused this popularity, and what can we learn from it?
Nudity: a Popularity Currency
Our experience at findr with social media is pretty stable and regular. We generally post a picture a day, ranging from animals to portraits to landscapes, and these posts earn us an average of 30 to 65 likes.
But Knas’ picture changed this a little bit. When I started writing this article, his picture had already reached 1,153 likes. It was posted less than a day ago.
There is no denying that this picture is worthy of such reception, but so are all the other photographs we post on our Instagram page. All our photographers have undeniable talent, and we carefully select our content to share with our community some of the most beautiful pictures ever. So what made a difference?
Well, it just so happens that, as mentioned earlier, the model in this picture is a naked woman. And while it shouldn’t change anything about its popularity, this time it perhaps did.
Nudity on social media is nothing new. Users have been posting pictures of themselves with diverse amounts of clothing, and Knas himself explained that people on Instagram tend to “put their physique forward in their pictures to attract people”.
And it seems to work.
The proof lies in the reception of our content. On July 13th, we posted a similar picture taken by Denis Mutlu. A young woman is sitting on a window ledge, wearing a large jumper and knee-high socks. This picture ended up with 39 likes. But in the case of Knas’ picture and its nude model, the result is over a 1,000 likes.
While it’s a well-known fact that the naked body, especially a woman’s, has always been seen as attractive to viewers and worthy of interaction, it’s the first time we experience it first-hand. Some users seem to use nudity as an advertising tool, but our experience with it is completely accidental, and the things we learn from it are more than valuable.
The Benefits of Nakedness
We welcome this new, large audience with excitement and curiosity! While I can’t quite explain why this picture surpassed our usual number of likes by almost 3000% – beyond the fact that it’s an incredible piece of work – I’m glad it did.
Our #1 goal is and will always be to bring attention to the work of the photographers we work with, and to promote their businesses and generate more work for them. The algorithm that Instagram has in place means that the more a picture is liked, the wider a reach it will have. And we couldn’t be happier for Knas that his work gets to be seen and liked and shared so profusely!
This also means that we got to reach people whose background isn’t in photography. The goal of findr, aside from providing photographers with more work, is also to make photography more accessible and more easily buyable for customers. The fact that a wider, non-artistic audience gets to feel included in and engaged by some of our content is something we always hope for when we post something online.
And this adds data to our understanding of social media, and especially to our knowledge of the reception of photography on such platforms. With Knas’ picture, we used hashtags such as #nudeart, #nudemodel, and #nudephotography – which we’d never used before and therefore also have a part to play in this picture’s popularity. This means we can now start experimenting a lot more with the kind of content we post, and how we advertise it.
The Naked Truth
Nudity sells. That’s an established fact, and something we are today much more aware of than ever before. But, as we attract a more diverse public, we also open the door to people whose interest might not come from the same place as others’.
I reached out to Knas to talk about the sudden success of his work on our platform. He explains that the idea behind the picture originates from the fact that “we’ve all had dreams or nightmares of waking up naked in an unknown place”. When I used the word “innocent” to describe this specific piece, he agreed with me.
But with comments such as “Fine art indeed” followed by a heart and a mouth emoji, or “Divine” from an account titled pink_wave_nude (not quite focused on artistic nudes, if you know what I mean), the reception of Knas’ work doesn’t quite seem to be treating it with the same sense of innocence as was intended.
Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily. The fact is that nudity always has, and still does, take women away from the status of subject to that of object. But while this event might serve as a reminder of the constant objectification of the female body, Knas himself says that he “lets the viewer imagine what they want through this picture”.
The fact that his picture might be sexualised by some viewers “doesn’t affect me”, states Knas. “We shouldn’t pay attention to people who perceive this picture as pornographic”, he says. Instead, Knas relishes his freedom to create what he wants, and keeps focusing on his collaborations with his models.
As I publish this article, on Thursday 26th of July, the number of likes has reached 1,321 and keeps rising, so I thought it was important to share these results with our community. We now know that nudity can be an online popularity boost, and we can’t wait to find out more about the effects of our photographers’ works on online communities.
What are your experiences with posting nude pictures online? Have you gained any insight? Share your stories with us in the comments!
Header picture by Jernej Graj.