The aesthetic value of nude photography and its boundary to erotic photography can only be determined with difficulty and inter-subjectively and is also affected by its numerous overlaps with pornography. In consequence, nude photography and erotic photography always find themselves branded in multiple ways, and labelled as works of artistic freedom, aesthetics, kitsch, junk or provocation. The boundaries of nude photography, erotic photography and pornography are so undefined and continuously changing that they are always determined and defined by the subjective moral view of the individual and the generally accepted cultural confines of “customs and tradition”.
Whether the picture itself is art or junk always lies in the eye of the beholder. One (subjective) definition of the worth of a nude photograph is: “A nude photo is then good, when the Model shows it around at the coffee table at her grandmother’s birthday party and receives positive feedback.” (Günter Rinnhofer) Other definitions have been by far more controversial. For Horst Werner this art form has always been about provocation and evoking of emotions. He prefers disgust, shock and aversion (as evoked for example by his photographs of nudes at a cemetery or of disabled people) to indifference, which in his opinion, is often the only reaction generated by other, more conventional art styles. Additionally, it is nowadays no longer such a taboo to depict the primary sex features of a human being. However, in contrast to pornography, nude photography does not actively pursue to excite the audience, although this does not exclude that it is consumed with this intention and effect.
Tasteful nude photography is often regarded as high skilled photography as besides technical knowledge and the ability to manipulate light the nude photographer also needs strong communication skills and the ability to build a positive relationship with his model. A modelling contract between photographer and model often includes additional remuneration to the model besides payment and publication rights.