She is a fashion/art photographer and based in New York, and has specialised and continues to document sexual relations.
1982 she began working as a set photographer for a number of adult films. Her first film was Devil in Miss Jones, Part II. “I found that working on the sets was vastly more interesting than watching the movies ”.
Eventually working on approx. 300 sets over 12 years. Besides producing set photography, she captured a collection of fascinating and intimate images of the adult movie industry in its heyday. These photographs revealed the combination of boredom, surrealism, vulnerability and dissociation inherent in the X-rated world. Producing more than just a set of entangled naked bodies, these images had empathy, and occasionally humour. Barbara Nitke is possibly one of the first ‘Behind the Scenes’ photographers to produce intimate and honest portrayals, without the need for clichés. She worked on titles such as Parted Lips or Shoot to Thrill.
In 1991, after the hardcore porn business moved to Los Angeles, she began shooting on the New York sets of fetish and SM movies and was hailed by The Village Voice for her quest “to find humanity in marginal sex”, Barbara Nitke gained worldwide attention for her affecting and powerful portrayal of relationships between consenting adults engaged in sadomasochistic activities.
This led to her 2003 publication of ‘Kiss of Fire’ - a direct and passionate view of SM practices. Here she was able to show the love and passion between several SM couples. Nitke was able to bring out the love, passion and intensity of mutual thought during these personal moments.
Also she has managed to work within the mainstream media at the same time, free of the usual restrictions usually associated with the X-rated world. She has worked on mainstream television and movie sets, for example “The Producers” (2005).
Her book ‘American Ecstasy’ (2012) is a memoir of her photos and words from the many porn sets she photographed, and in 2014 the collection was exhibited at One Eyed Jacks in Brighton, UK.
The latest work explores emotional narratives, such as romance, lust, intimacy and betrayal. The images are conceived as fragments of stories, featuring people who have very complicated love lives.
For further information, click on the following articles: American Ecstasy and The Devil in Ms. Nitke (pdf).
Knowledge is never a waste.
Online: April 2014 (updated Feb 2017)