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When is a “child” not a child and a “teen” not a teen?

January 24th, 2011

A few weeks ago I was reading Injustice Everywhere when they mentioned an article in the West Virginia Gazette-Mail titled Policing the Police.  I recommend the article, but this post isn’t about police misconduct.  What I find more interesting was an article listed on the side of the website that was linked with the headline “Teen charged with murder”.  Unfortunately I can’t find the same article on the website, but I did find similar ones such as “Teens plead guilty to killing S. Charleston counselor” and “Teen charged in East End shooting“.  These headlines are really what prompted me to write this post.

I’ve been noticing for a while that certain people and organizations will use words that while true will imply something different and specific to the people who hear them.  The people and groups I’m talking about generally have a specific agenda they are promoting and include, but are not limited to, politicians, media outlets, and special interest organizations.

The specific words I want to talk about today are those related to age.  To help me on this I asked a number of my friends to give me their first impressions as it relates to age on 23 words.

high school
middle aged

While this was not a scientific survey, and I only received 3 responses, the data generally backs up my beliefs.

Let’s start with “teen”.  When I hear the term teen my first instinct is someone 16 years old.  If I think about it a little longer I would say 13 to 18. Other impressions I get are high school aged or someone in high school.

But the definition of teen is someone who is at least 13, but less than 20.  That is how it’s used in the stories linked above.  They are both about 18 and 19 year olds.  So while a headline of “Teen” is true, it implies something to most people that is completely different.  If you’ve just seen a headline that says “Teen charged with murder” you’re going to look at those walking to high school a little fearfully, aren’t you.

Let’s take a look at another word, “child”.  My first instinct is someone roughly 5 to 8 years old.  In my survey I received a response of 4, 5, and 5-13.  Wikipedia says that biologically a child is a human between birth and puberty.  I think when the majority of the population says “child” that’s what they mean.  The biological definition.  But legally a child is anyone who has not reached the age of majority, generally someone under 18.

One of the places you’ll see child mentioned in the media is in a headline like this:  Former UW-Madison student is on trial over alleged encrypted child porn photos

But one thing that is very rarely, if ever, mentioned in stories like that is the actual age of the “children” involved.  Legally, child pornography is pornographic images of a human under the age of 18.  It doesn’t matter if they’re 7 months, 7 years, or 17 years old, it’s all illegal.  But by calling it child pornography the police, the justice system and the media are creating certain ideas in our minds.  We’ve already seen that most of us think of a pre-pubescent person when we hear child.  Is it too much of a stretch to think that the people responsible for “protecting” us are using that to their advantage?

Now I’m not defending anyone who would force another, through violence or psychological coercion, to perform a sexual act.  And I’m also not defending recording a sexual act without a persons knowledge and/or consent.  But I am saying I have a very different reaction to pornography involving a 7 year old, than I do to pornography involving a 17 year old.  Especially considering that in 38 states, that same 17 year old can legally consent to sex.  (30 states = 16yo 8 states = 17yo)

That’s right, the esteemed legislatures of 38 states have voted and decided that a 17 year old is old enough to wisely choose a partner, understands the risks, rewards, and consequences, and potentially create another human life and become a parent.  But that same 17 year old is NEVER allowed to show an image of him or herself in a sexual situation.  Even if they’re the only person in the image, and they are the ones creating it.  In fact it’s illegal just to create it and teens have been prosecuted for it.

What kind of message does that send?  Everyone talks about body image issues that teens have from magazines, TV shows, fashion models, etc.  But here we are telling the same group of people that their bodies are so wrong, so immoral, so dangerous that they can’t even photograph themselves?  That doing so could land them in jail for years, put them on sex offender registries, and basically ruin their entire lives.

Next we have “minor” and “underage”.  For “minor” I received responses of 21, 18, and 17.  While “underage”, received responses of 17, 18, and 17.  I thought these responses were quite interesting and honestly that they would have been reversed.  Legally, a minor is someone who has not attained the age of majority, for the US and most of the world, that’s 18.  “Underage” is basically the same thing, and describes a person who is “under” the age of majority.

What bothers me about minor, and to a lesser extent underage, is that they’re so negative.  The definitions as used in relation to age are negative; “not attained”, “under the age”.  The way the word is used not related to age is negative; “inferior, smaller, unimportant, not serious, academics requiring fewer courses”.  This is how our society, how our legal system, defines those who are that way merely because of when they were born.  If you don’t believe me you’re not remembering hard enough or you were very lucky.  The way most “adults” treat minors is that they are inferior, unimportant and not serious.

I guess what I want you to take away from this is to try to be more aware of the words people use who might want to influence your opinion.  And not just the definition of those words, but of how those words are used and how they make you feel.  Especially if they create a strong emotional reaction.

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Why this is wrong.

December 20th, 2010

Author of pedophilia guide to face charges in Florida

There are so many things wrong with this situation.

1.  Obviously there is not enough crime in Polk County (or even the state of Florida) if Sheriff Judd has to go half way across the country to arrest and charge this man.

2.  It is entirely possible, and quite likely, that the only copy of this book in Polk County is the one purchased by the Sheriff.  Meaning that no one in his jurisdiction could possibly have been “harmed” by this book.  If you even buy the premise that it’s harmful.

3.  IT’S A FUCKING BOOK! It’s words printed on paper.  It can’t hurt you.  It is merely a physical manifestation of an idea.  Ideas are not illegal.  Thought is not illegal.

4.  If you don’t like it, don’t read it.  Don’t buy it.  You can tell your family, your friends, random people on the street that you feel it is wrong.  That’s your right.

5.  The First Amendment

Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press …

This is the very essence of why we have the First Amendment.  To protect unpopular speech.  It doesn’t matter if that speech is pedophilia, or swearing (Catcher in the Rye), or sexuality (Twilight), or racism (Adventures of Huckleberry Finn), or sorcery (Harry Potter), or violence (Grand Theft Auto).

So basically here’s what’s going to happen.  Sheriff Judd gets to look tough on pedophiles and crime in general.  He’ll get lots of money and be reelected.  Mr. Greaves will probably end up sitting in jail for five to ten years while the his case moves through the court system.  The people of Polk County and the State of Florida will spend millions of dollars defending the appeals all the way to the Supreme Court.  The Supreme Court will rightly rule in favor of Mr. Greaves.  Mr. Greaves will then be released having lost almost a decade of his life.  Mr. Greaves will not be able to recover damages from Sheriff Judd, because Sheriff Judd has qualified immunity.

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September 16th, 2010

I first met Casie on Twitter .  After a few weeks I asked her to pose for me, she came over in mid November.  This is the first set.  I’ll have more later.


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Story in the Isthmus

September 16th, 2010

The story of my experience at the Kastenmeier Courthouse has gone mainstream.  There is an article in this weeks Isthmus, a weekly local paper here in Madison, WI.

Much of the story is taken from my blog and an interview I did with reporter Bill Lueders.  However, Lueders was able to talk with Chief Deputy U.S. Marshall Kirk Papenthien.

Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal Kirk Papenthien notes that many people photograph Madison’s federal courthouse, with its distinctive steel-blue façade and whimsical touch of red neon. Not all are asked who they are and what they’re doing. (Isthmus wasn’t, in taking the photo that accompanies this story.)

But Papenthien says some picture-takers trigger inquiries, "to let people know there is a security presence." He admits people can come after hours and other times the building is closed without this occurring.

But if taking photos of the courthouse is allowed, why did the guard tell Zytkiewicz to stop taking pictures and threaten to summon police? Papenthien, who’s read the blog account, says, "I have no knowledge as to whether that is an accurate transcript." And even if it were (it is — Isthmus heard the recording), Papenthien isn’t saying the guard overstepped because "I have no knowledge what he [Zytkiewicz] was taking pictures of."

Interesting quotes I would say.  How many people don’t know there’s a security presence at a federal courthouse?  You can see the guards and metal detector while standing on the sidewalk across the street through the large clear glass front entrance.SONY DSC And there’s at least 8 security cameras.  They’re not little either, those are about twelve inches long.SONY DSC And after hours this won’t happen?  Really?  So Saturday’s the court is in session?  Cause that’s when another photographer was stopped and questioned.  And that was back in 2007.

And if you’re that concerned about security why only question people during business hours?  Do terrorists only work during business hours?  And then to come out and say it in the paper, almost inviting people with malicious intent to come out at night, you won’t be questioned.

And then he questions my accuracy while seemingly defending the guard while protecting his own ass.  Saying he has “no knowledge” of what I was taking pictures of.  With all those security cameras they no exactly where I walked and where I pointed my lens.  Is there no communication going on among security personnel at the courthouse?  You would think that if i was deemed a threat they would have a record of it somewhere. 

So would you like to see the pictures I took Deputy U.S. Marshall Kirk Papenthien?  Can you tell me exactly what type of pictures would allow a guard to tell me “Don’t take one of the building.” and “ I’ll get a hold of Madison PD they’ll come and talk to you.”?  Is there some part of that building, a building which is set right along a public sidewalk, a building that anyone can walk up to and touch, a building set in the heart of Wisconsin’s capital city, a building next to a parking garage that holds over 600 cars, a building that is seen by hundreds, possibly thousands of people each day, is there some part of THAT building that is so important, that a picture of it is a security threat.  Tell me Deputy U.S. Marshall Kirk Papenthien, what part of the building would that be?


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In response to PixSylated

September 16th, 2009

Syl Arena over at PixSylated posted a blog on where the photography industry is headed.  I started to comment, but then realized my comment was getting long enough to be a post so here it is.

I think that some segments of photography will be effected more than others.

For example, sports. Currently you have still photographers and television cameras at most major games. Television cameras are only 1080P at the best. But what happens when they start using a Red One or something better? Why would you pay for a still photographer when you can pull a single frame from a video guy who’s already there?

Portrait and wedding photographers I think will see less of a change. Take the pictures in Harry Potter as an example where these industries are headed.  There not really movies as there’s no storyline or anything.  I’ve been calling them motion photographs, and the new profession a “motion photographer”.  And you don’t even need a video camera.  Check out this post by David Hoby at  He highlights a music video that was shot using a DSLR at 10 frames a second and lit with strobes.  As David says, “The vid is, technically, 16,000 still photos.”

I think the still image, whether from a still camera or single frame will be around for quite a while. First a static image of a scene in many ways has more impact. When you hear Tiananmen Square you think of the photo of the man standing in front of the tanks, even though there is video available.

Second is a question of bandwith, not so much of our devices but of our minds. Humans can speak and listen at about 150 words a minute. But we can read almost twice as fast, 250 to 300 words a minute. This is one of the reasons I don’t watch TV news anymore. I can get more information in less time, and my understanding and enjoyment is enhanced by a relevant still image.

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Sydney Max at the Red Gym

September 5th, 2009

So I’m starting something new with this post.  In the past I would wait until I was done editing all the photos from a shoot.  And while it was nice to know I had them all done, sometimes it would take a while.  I wouldn’t be able to post as often, and when I did I think some of the pictures didn’t get as much attention.

Now I’m going to post as I get sets done.  I consider a set to be one outfit or one location, from a shoot.  Today the set is Sydney Max at the Red Gym on the University of Wisconsin – Madison campus.  We shot these on August 20th.  I have three more sets from that day, and not to give to much away, but in the second set she defies gravity.


This one is my favorite.


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University Nudes

September 3rd, 2009

I started a new blog today at It will be just for those posts that pertain to my new project University Nudes.

University Nudes is the title of a project that I started a few months ago. I was looking for a theme to tie together some of my photographs. Something that was interesting to me, built on my strengths, would allow me to develop and, perhaps more importantly would be something that others would want to see.

Since I live in Madison, Wisconsin and had worked with some students from the University of Wisconsin-Madison I thought that a project using UW students would be perfect. Especially if they were nude.

So University Nudes was born. All of the subjects for this project will be University of Wisconsin – Madison students at the time the pictures are taken. They can be male or female, undergrad or graduate.

Each of the images will be titled in the same way.

Subjects first name

Major and expected graduation year


So the image below would be called


Theater and Drama 2011

Elver Park

Now in an ideal world everyone would be fully nude for everything. But in order to increase the amount of subjects I’m willing to shoot partial nudity, or even bodyscapes that don’t show clothing.

If you’re interested in being a subject please e-mail me at

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New pictures of Alicia

May 14th, 2009

So Alicia is pregnant, congratulations to her and her boyfriend.  We’re going to be doing a few shoots throughout her pregnancy, these are some from our first shoot when she was about 5 months along.

I really love the shadows on this one.


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Naked on the Capitol steps

May 11th, 2009

I’ve shot nudes outside before.  Some of the first pictures I ever took way back in 2004 were outdoor nudes in the Northwoods.  I’ve done topless shoots on the beaches of Lake Mendota on more than one occasion.  Last year I even shot some full nudes in Elver park right here in Madison.

But I’ve never done any like the shoot a few weeks ago.

I picked her up at 5:30 A.M.  We drove up to the Capital square, parked and walked to the steps.  There were a few homeless guys sleeping on some grates, but not many other people around.  She was only wearing her shoes, socks and a coat.  We walked up the steps, she dropped her coat and I started shooting.


We stopped a few times and she put her coat back on or ducked down when buses or cars would stop at the light.



It started to get busy so then we went out to the UW Arboretum.  My original idea was to have her climb the tree in the image below, but it was too high.


We walked a little along the trail to get further from the road, which was starting to get busier with joggers and bicyclists.  Right along the edge of the woods there was a pair of turkeys.  As we started through the other side of the field a beautiful golden sunlight began to show.



I think this was one of the most productive shoots I’ve done in a very long time.  From the first shot to the last shot wasn’t even a full hour.  And that includes the time it took us to drive from the Capitol to the Arboretum.  As always there’s more pictures below, just click the thumbnail.  And don’t forget to leave comments.

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Angela and Jeff

April 16th, 2009

I shot Angela back in February.  She wanted some pictures with her boyfriend Jeff so last month we went downtown and did some shots.


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