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This distinguishes nude photography from both glamour photography and pornographic photography.
The distinction between these is not always clear, and photographers tends to use their own judgment in characterizing their own work, Early fine-art photographers in Western cultures, seeking to establish photography as a fine art medium, frequently chose women as the subjects for their nudes, in poses that accorded with traditional practice in other media.
He also maintained his own highly successful commercial photo studio, producing magazine ads for a wide range of upscale retail commercial products—mostly men's and women's fashions—and also photographed several hundred artists and showgirls, including nude photographs of some.
Most of his nude images (some named, mostly anonymous) were, in fact, showgirls from the Ziegfeld Follies, but such daring, unretouched full-frontal images would certainly not have been openly publishable in the 1920s–1930s, so it is speculated that these were either simply his own personal artistic work, and/or done at the behest of Flo Ziegfeld for the showman's personal enjoyment.
Since the first days of photography, the nude was a source of inspiration for those that adopted the new medium.
Most of the early images were closely guarded or surreptitiously circulated as violations of the social norms of the time, since the photograph captures real nudity.
Before nude photography, art nudes usually used allusions to classical antiquity; gods and warriors, goddesses and nymphs.
Nude photography is undertaken for a variety of purposes, including educational uses, commercial applications and artistic creations.
The exhibition or publication of nude photographs may be controversial, more so in some cultures or countries than in others, and especially if the subject is a minor.
Nude photographs may be used for scientific and educational purpose, such as ethnographic studies, human physiology or sex education.
Music album covers often incorporate photography, at times including nude or semi-nude images.
Album covers that have incorporated nudity have included those of performers such as Jimi Hendrix (Electric Ladyland, 1968), John Lennon and Yoko Ono (Unfinished Music No.