On the one hand, the invention of photography in the early 19th century spread the notion and ideal of the Romantic child far and wide, and made the conventions of Romantic childhood accessible to all. On the other, it has been largely responsible for the ‘crisis’ that now confronts the notion of ‘ideal childhood’ because of its use in the pornographic industry. Our sense is that childhood ‘innocence’ must be protected at all costs from its influence. At the same time, we are acutely aware that photographs are not necessarily free of sexual messages, especially in an age where advertising makes use of images of children to sell virtually anything. This 1910 image by Arthur Elliott uses nudity to emphasis a state of childhood innocence, but should an adult (male) photographer attempt to create such an image in 2008, serious questions and objections might arise.
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