The Washington Post

Valentine’s Day: Why did The Post run such a ‘cheeky’ photo?

A number of readers have weighed in on a rather, er, cheeky photo that ran on page C9 of yesterday’s newspaper, calling the image (of two club-goers embracing on the dance floor) “tacky” and “inappropriate.”

Post ombudsman Patrick Pexton tackled the photo in his weekly Post Roast, noting that it was “a touch too edgy for a family newspaper,” particularly since the photo ran on the reverse of a KidsPost page that featured Westminster Dog Show-themed Valentine’s Day cutouts for The Post’s younger readers.

Why did The Post choose to run this particular photo? After the jump, senior photojournalist Bonnie Jo Mount explains the goal of the project and the decision to include the photo in the newspaper.

Our goal was to reveal various forms of love and the essay included a variety of images — from gentle intimacy to passion. We led the section with a tender photograph of a couple who has been married for decades — a symbol of enduring love and companionship. The image of a fully clothed, impassioned couple conveyed another component of love — lust. We try to present photography that illuminates a wide range of experiences, events, and in this case, emotions. Sarah Voisin's photograph is very real and very emotive. But lust is not an emotion that we present every day — and almost any visual documentation of it is likely to stand out. For that reason — and with our readers in mind — we chose to present it on an inside page.

Do you have a question for Post editors? Submit it here or on Twitter using the hashtag #askthepost.


Gallery: The complexities of love

Ombudsman: The cheek squeeze that roiled the world

Essay: Love remains the mystery of life

Bethonie Butler is a producer and a reporter on The Post’s engagement team. She oversees online comments and has also contributed to The Style Blog and She The People.


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