Children in the Entertainment Business | My Commitment and Why I am Choosing to Take a Stand | Meg Bitton photography and leaders in the Children’s Photography Industry
Meg Bitton, one of the self-proclaimed “leaders” in the children’s stylized photography industry, has recently been criticized for a series of photographs depicting children partaking in drinking, smoking, wearing drug paraphernalia and “playing” in the street at night.
Meg Bitton has been involved in controversy before, however, this time around photographers are publicly stating that they believe her images are exploiting children for shock value in order to create profits for her business Meg Bitton Live. Her “fans” are calling it art, and they have gone on to cite work such as Sally Mann’s photo series of her children in the nude, as well as various movies that depict child prostitution and teen sex.
If you would like to read more of an analysis and timeline of Meg’s work there is a blog here( https://boycottmegbitton.wordpress.com/…/lets-talk-about-m…/ ) that goes into detail.
So, now that you are caught up, I am going to put my thoughts out there. I am not writing on whether I agree or disagree on the context of the photographs or Meg as person. I have never met her, I do not know her personally, and I will not say I know why she has created these images. However, what I do know is that she has used at least one image in the series as a sponsored post on Instagram to market her workshop videos. Which means these images were used to create profits.
I am here today to talk about my personal responsibility to the children I photograph. I am not here to tell you how you should run your business, what “art” to create or how you must pose and dress your models. Hey, I have been criticize for putting on make up on tween models and shooting horror photography for my Halloween series using kids. I get we all have different values and boundaries.
But, I am drawing a line in the sand. I don’t want to see sensual posing with pouty lips, intense stares and strategically placed and frame crotch shots of children become the new trend.
I am here to publicly declare my commitment to always be sensitive to the feelings of every child I have the honor to meet and photograph.
I may not be a “leader” in this industry, and I may still be considered fairly green in the business of photography. Hey, I started my business in 2015 - but, you know what? I touch lives!
I teach other photographers how to shoot, edit, and set business goals for themselves. I am not just going to preach, I will model the behavior I want to see. Maybe this whole thing happening is for the better, it certainly has given me the courage to speak up about an issue that has been going on long before I came along.
That means that I have a responsibility to help shape their views about what is OK and what is not OK. Because they are following me, they are learning from me, and they are inspired by me. Maybe not to the extent that she is, but even if it’s just one person out there listening to me, watching me, I want my message to be clear and defined. I take on the responsibility to say that children often aren't heard and can't speak up. So... I, a grown up and woman, a photographer, and a teacher will speak up!
Because guys we get it…this isn’t the first time or the first “artist” to create controversial images. Does it make it ok? Is it ok that Brooke Shields played a prostitute at 12? That Natalie Portman was sexualized in her role in The Professional.
Oscar-winning actress Natalie Portman told the crowd at The Women’s March in downtown Los Angeles that she experienced what she calls “sexual terrorism” as a 13-year-old after the release of the film The Professional.
Portman described her pride and excitement in releasing the film, only to encounter sexually explicit messages both directed toward her and made about her.
”I excitedly opened my first fan mail to read a rape fantasy that a man had written me,” she recalled. “A countdown was started on my local radio show to my 18th birthday, euphemistically the date that I would be legal to sleep with. Movie reviewers talked about my budding breasts in reviews.”
In the film, Natalie portrayed 12-year-old Mathilda, a girl who befriends an Italian hitman with the hopes of avenging the murder of her family.
"The character is simultaneously discovering and developing her womanhood, her voice and her desire. At that moment in my life, I too was discovering my own womanhood, my own desire and my own voice,"
"I understood very quickly, even as a 13-year-old, that if I were to express myself sexually, I would feel unsafe and that men would feel entitled to discuss and objectify my body to my great discomfort."
I choose to teach my students that kids deserve our respect, they deserve to be treated as humans and not be objectified. I choose to commit to not normalizing pre-pubescent girls engaging in sensual play or illegal activities. I DON’T WANT THAT TO BE NORMAL! I don’t want it to be acceptable and just another photo. I don’t want other children viewing them to become de-sensitized to these images, and I don’t want these children to model the behavior. Think it doesn’t happen? Just look at Instagram and all of the kid profiles. Think it doesn’t happen when parents are around?
Let’s look at all of the incidents in the past in which children were exploited by their parents and in the “interest” of the child.
I create the world you see on my pages, on my site. The world is ugly, bad things do happen, but the world I want to create is one of hope. I teach that when you shoot, you do so with intention. Every pose, every angle is designed and controlled by you. When you cull down images you are the one selecting those images, editing them and then choosing to share them publicly for the world to see, screen shot and share. You are creating the story, and you always have an ultimate goal on what you want that story to say. It isn’t for the viewer to make up, because you don’t just throw paint on the wall and say interpret that. You control every aspect of a photograph - to pretend it's otherwise is a lie!
You know we have heard you the artist, we have heard the parents… but you know who doesn’t have a voice… the children! And trust me, we really don’t know how they will feel about their images in 10 years.
For Research Studies Conducted on the objectification and exploitation of young girls I have listed several sources here:
SEPTEMER 23, 2018 AND SEPTEMBER 28, 2018
THE CHOOSING CHILDHOOD SHOOTOUT
We as a photography community are taking a stand. We collectively commit to ensuring the safety and well being of all of the children who we photograph.
We want to create a standard that ensures children are not objectified or groomed to become victims of persons who want to profit from their objectification.
I encourage you to host your own local shootout and flood all social media with images of girls who are strong, creative, confident and empowered.
Use #choosingchildhood as the hashtag
To join me in Houston Texas Click here: