Seedy History of a Crotch Shot


An Innocent Photo Turns Ugly

October 11, 2014. Cal vs Washington. I was invited to attend this game in Berkeley with my neighbors and close friends, Marty Horowitz and Martha Cryan. We went early to watch the Cal band warm up before the game. The band came marching into Sproul Hall Plaza. The band was loud – like we were marching off to war. Then came the cheerleaders. I muscled my way to the front of the crowd, dropped to my knees with my 20mm wide angle lens and got this shot:


Wild hair flying. Smiles. Right legs high above their heads. I thought “What does it take for a young college woman to get to this spot?” They all must have been cheerleading stars in high school. They are gymnasts and unbelievably limber. Also, what I didn’t notice when I took the photo were the letters in the windows of Sproul Hall in the background: FSM (Free Speech Movement). Cal was celebrating the 50-year anniversary of this student movement that shut down the university in the fall of 1964. The irony of it all.

Fast forward to three months ago. I was hanging my new photo show on the wall of the Talk of Broadway restaurant in downtown Redwood City. I wanted to use the Cal photo to compliment a similar photo I had of the cheer leaders at Sequoia High School in RWC.

My daughter, Katy, taunted me, “Dad this is inappropriate. You are an old man taking pictures of scantily-clad young women. Gross.” I retorted that she didn’t understand that our Sequoia cheerleaders have won national awards for their routines, and that the Cal photo shows extraordinary gymnastic skill of these young women PLUS – the FSM sign in the background. Why is this weird?

Sure enough, after the show had been up for a month, the restaurant’s owner, John Lee, told me he had complaints about the “crotch shot.” Seriously? People need to “get a life.” But, last thing I want is to compromise John and his restaurant. After all, I am honored to be allowed to decorate his wall. So, back to Bay Photo in Santa Cruz to get a replacement print. Turns out I had a recent photo of a Sequoia football game. Now the high school cheerleaders and player #17 grace the wall, and fortunately we are rid of the offending crotch shot.


So, I leave it to you. Am I a photographic artistic genius, or a dirty old man? You tell me.

17 thoughts on “Seedy History of a Crotch Shot

  1. Neighbor Marty says:

    I’m reminded of the Mark Twain quote “ You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus” If the naysayers want a real crouch shot to complain about go see Michelangelo’s David in Florence. Rick, you are old but certainly not dirty.

    • Neighbor Marty says:

      Reminds me of Mark Twain quote” You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus” If the naysayers need a real crouch target how about tearing down Michelangelo’s David statue in Florence. Rick you are old but certainly no dirty.

  2. Bill Spaulding says:

    Paraphrasing: You can offend some of the people all the time or all the people some of the time….

    I think we as a nation have lost our sense of humor and tolerance for each other. Being offended may be a person’s 5 minutes of fame.

  3. George O. Petty says:

    In this era of “OK, Boomer,” we pre-Boomers (Silent Generation) can safely assume we are out of touch. In fact, even touching is out of touch.

  4. Patricia T Green says:

    Hi Rick,
    I don’t think it’s offensive either, but of the owner of the restaurant so graciously offers you wall space and says he has gotten complaints, I guess you’re stuck. And you are right, we have absolutely no sense of humor anymore as a country.


  5. Warren Harnden says:

    Crotchety people and their subconscious minds. HA! And the FSM irony is great in light of its movement and free lance photography as free speech, as well.
    Keep at it, Rick!

  6. Susan Page says:

    I can’t say it any better then what Larry B. said above:
    “All I see are photo’s of cheerleaders. So, for those that see a problem, go find a real one.”

    That’s exactly my reaction. Those women are athletic and graceful. You try to do that with your legs! If all you see is a crotch when you look at that shot, it’s a statement about YOU, not about the photo. And I love that it’s a celebration of the Free Speech Movement at the same time. — You were sweet to the restaurant owner and did the right thing, but I can’t believe the era we live in. Crazy!

  7. Larry says:

    Personally, I like the photo. If I were to set a blame, I would pin it on the coaches. They are the ones who are telling these girls how to do everything.

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