Are Erotic Photography and Pornography the Same Thing?

Erotic photography and porn are the same thing, right?That’s the most frequent question I get when I tell people that I researched erotic photography. But according to my colleagues and I, we’d tell you ‘No, it’s definitely not porn.’ And so would the photographers who take these types of pictures. And we would know. Because we asked them.Generally, erotica is material for the purpose of arousing or titillating individuals. Porn, on the other hand, is for the purpose of sexually arousing or gratifying individuals.We used the term erotic photography because it captures a broad range of work including boudoir, semi-nude, nude, sensual, erotic, and explicit. Some photographers preferred the term boudoir. It’s French so obviously it sounds classy and boudoir conjures up images of lingerie and satin sheets versus penetrative sex.But not only did we ask the photographers if erotic photography is the same as porn, we asked what a typical erotic photography photo shoot looks like, how it works, who their clients were (not their names, just general descriptors), and how the photographers create this sexually intimate atmosphere with clients.So what does erotic photography look like? Well, it’s usually women who have pictures taken for themselves. It could be a gift for a partner (hello Santa) or a gift purely for themselves. This was a major difference between erotic photography and pornography.In pornography, the end user (person looking at the photos/film) is not usually the individual in the pictures or film. But for erotic photography, usually the end user is featured in the pictures.There is a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ that differentiates these pictures from pornography… soft lighting, black and whites, softly focused or features of the shot that are purposely out of focus, strategic shading, nakedness that’s not full on crotch close-ups.Another reason women had these photos taken: to document a time in their life. This could be at any time or maybe after a pregnancy or after a mastectomy. The coolest was when women were just feeling hot and wanted the pictures to prove it. For more on women who have these pictures taken, read Amy Muise’s paper.Very few photographers will take pictures of males. This is because most photographers are not comfortable having a male client come into their studio to whack off on camera (well not right onto the camera…you know what I mean) which is what a lot of men want to do if it’s a hot female photographer. Many photographers said they just did not find the male body that aesthetically pleasant to photograph – erection or no erection.We spoke to one male photographer who does specialize in photography in the gay community and he said that many of his male clients also wanted to be captured in a beautiful way.Sometimes couples came in and had photos taken together. Some photographers made them keep this PG-13, some photographers gave them the green light to do whatever the clients wanted – aka an ‘interactive’ erotic photography session.What else was cool? There was no typical client. For the women…these weren’t all size 2 women who wanted to take sexy photos. Women were in their young 20s to the 60s, no typical body size, and ethnicities also varied. Too few men to generalize, sorry boyz.Another misconception about this type of photography is that the photographers must be perverts. Not true. Erotic photography was commonly a part of their larger photography business and it was vital for them to remain professional with their clients at all times (even more so than a typical portrait session because of the nakedness).Erotic photography is not the rub ‘n tug of photography. No ‘happy endings’ here.Unless you consider clients who were blown away at how awesome they looked in their pictures as a happy ending.As an aside to the project, I had my own erotic photographs taken. It was much harder than it looked. And no, I didn’t have sex with my male photographer!Original article:

Home Improvement Projects Can Increase The Value Of Your Home

Home improvement projects can improve the look and value of your home dramatically. Though in some cases, using a home improvement project as a way to increase the value of your home can actually backfire and cost you money. So how will you be able to tell if the project that you have planned will add to the value of your home or decrease the value of your home?The first thing that you need to know is the appraised value of your home. You must know the appraisal value, or estimated resale price, of your home before you can determine if a project will increase or decrease the value of your home. Although you may feel that your home is worth a certain amount of money, and that a home improvement will increase the value by X amount of dollars, your feelings will not set the final selling price, the appraisal will.When completing a home improvement project that you believe will dramatically improve the resale value of your home, you need to consider your neighbors houses. If you have the nicest house in your neighborhood, but you are trying to sell it for twice as much as the appraisal value of other homes in the neighborhood, you will be disappointed.A general guide is to not try to sell your home for more than 20% of what the surrounding homes will sell for. For simplicity, let us assume that the homes in your neighborhood are appraised at a value of $100,000. This would mean that you could expect to get about $120,000 out of your home if you make selective home improvements.What this means for you as a homeowner is that you should seriously rethink any home improvement project that would cost more than $20,000 going by our above example. Using the above example, it is easy to see that a $30,000 home improvement project would cause you to lose money in the long run.Now, if you can make a home improvement that costs very little, but results in a higher resale value, it may be a good idea to pursue that project. Going back to our example, if you can spend $5,000 on a project and this results in your home being appraised at $115,000, then it is a great investment idea.You also want to consider the appeal that your home improvement project would have to a future owner. For example, swimming pools and hot tubs may be something that you enjoy, but would a potential buyer pay extra for those features? There are some fairly safe projects that you can pursue that other home buyers generally find valuable. Some of these include kitchen remodeling, adding or remodeling a bathroom, adding a new room, landscaping, etc.Also keep in mind that maintenance projects do not usually result in an increased value for your home. Replacing a broken furnace or hot water heater usually will not improve the value of your home when selling it. These are considered maintenance issues that all homeowners expect the home to have working. Most people would not consider paying full price for a home that does not have these basic features in working order.The bottom line is that if you are interested in increasing the resale value of your home you need to make smart decisions. Smart decisions on which home improvement projects to tackle can put extra money in your pocket when you sell your house.

Best Time to Invest or Start Investing Money

People often ask me “when is the best time to invest money”, or “is now a good time to start investing my money”. Now, in 2014, may be the best time to invest or start investing money… but only if you have your ducks in a row.Many people start investing money prematurely – before they have their financial house in order. Then, they continue investing until they either want their money back to buy something, need their money back to pay unexpected bills, or start losing money. In other words, they get started before they have their ducks in a row. Three factors will determine the best time to invest or start investing money. And, no, the best time to invest does not depend on the state of the economy or the trend of the stock market.Before you start investing you should have a reliable source of income and a good cash reserve to cover financial emergencies as well as purchases you plan to make. Third, you should have a basic knowledge of financial terms as well as of stocks, bonds and mutual funds before you invest a serious (for you) amount of money. Even if you plan to use the services of a financial planner, you will need to be able to communicate with him or her.Saving money to establish a cash reserve is the first step for many people. Once you start investing money for a long-term goal like retirement, you don’t want to interrupt the process because you ran low on cash. This can be costly, especially if your timing is bad and you need to liquidate with a loss.The best time to invest is when you have your financial house in order. On the other hand, the best time to invest money in stocks, bonds, and mutual funds is another question. For example, 2014 might not be the best time to invest in stocks, or even bonds. But you need to make your money grow. That’s why you need to get a handle on mutual funds, and the process called asset allocation. Mutual funds are the best way to start investing money. They offer average investors professional money management, and a diversified portfolio, usually at a reasonable cost.Asset allocation is the single most important consideration when you invest money. You want to spread your money across the asset classes in order to both make your money grow, and keep your risk moderate. Mutual funds make this easy to do. They offer stock funds, bond funds and money market funds. If you want to start investing in 2014 (or just start over) put equal amounts of money in a diversified (large-cap) stock fund, an intermediate-term bond fund, and a money market fund. This asset allocation is simple and should keep you out of serious trouble, even if 2014 turns out to be a rough year for investors.No one knows the best time to invest in stocks or bonds, but the best time to invest or start investing money is NOW if you have your ducks in a row. NOW is also the best time to increase your investor IQ by learning more about investment basics and investing strategy.