How to photograph people having sex without it becoming porn

Vancouver Courier


Amanda Sinclair and her partner have been photographed having sex for photographer Ricardo Scipio’s second book, The Sex Goddess Project Book 2.
Photograph By DAN TOULGOET

For a guy who photographs couples having sex, Ricardo Scipio gets particularly uncomfortable when the P word is mentioned.

Within minutes of speaking to the Courier, the 53-year-old photographer is quick to disassociate his vision with pornography. Instead, he uses terms such as joy, sex positive and celebration when referring to getting shots of couples getting hot.

Scipio is in the midst of mounting a cross-Canada tour to take photos for the second instalment of his book, The Sex Goddess Project Book 2. He’s currently booking shoots in Vancouver and across the region before heading to the Maritimes this summer.

It’s his seventh jaunt across the country in the last six years, all the while documenting the deed.

“I’d spent my whole career trying to avoid doing anything sexual because I didn’t want my work compared to porn and I didn’t even want it compared to any sort of erotica,” he said. “I wanted to stay well away from that territory and I managed to do that.”

Scipio characterizes his work like this — if porn represents one per cent of body types, his photos strive to capture the other 99. He’s worked with women ranging in weight from “90 pounds to 360 pounds,” with the end goal of celebrating variety.

To that end, his latest offering focuses on men, women and those who identify as transgender who represent as many ethnicities, cultures and body types as possible.

Scipio’s been in the photo game for three decades and worked in fashion for a decade before opting for the carnal side of the camera four years ago.

And what a transition it was.

Scipio was photographing a 70-year-old woman in the buff who, unannounced and rather unapologetically, began pleasuring herself. Scipio kept clicking away.

Less than two months later, Scipio says a 53-year-old woman did the same thing.

Again, he kept shooting.

“I couldn’t ignore it and started to think back to other shoots and realized that other women that I had photographed wanted to express themselves more sexually but I didn’t allow it,” he said. “I had such tight constraints on what my work was about so I didn’t allow room for that. Then I realized I was just another man supressing women’s sexuality and I decided that’s not really the side of history I want to be on.”

All of this is a far cry for a guy from a born-again Christian family who was once being groomed to be a church pastor. Much to his surprise, Scipio’s mom attended one of his shows in Toronto and — this part wasn’t a surprise — was not particularly comfortable. She’s also seen images on his desktop that she described as “nasty.”

Vancouver’s Amanda Sinclair falls on the other side of the ledger than the Scipio family patriarch. Sinclair and her partner are in a polyamorous relationship and were photographed by Scipio in late March.

She defines a Sex Goddess as someone who embodies liberation, no matter how unorthodox that may appear to others.

“It’s a woman who embraces, acknowledges and celebrates her sexuality and is real about it,” she said. “If you like to get dressed up in chicken suits and have sex, then that’s your sex. If you like to have missionary sex under the covers with the lights on, that’s your sex.”

At 45, Sinclair has reconciled her appearance despite being a self-described “short and round girl” who pines for one day getting a $10,000 tummy tuck.

“I’ve learned to accept and embrace who I am and how I look and I work to sculpt the most beautiful version of myself, which includes sharing it with others,” she said. “Part of it is acceptance. I’ve accepted that I’m five foot three and that I’ll never be five foot seven like I want to be.”

Scipio’s work can be viewed online at the not-safe-for-work website

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