Lara Bingle is actually a media genius. This nude photo proves it.

Source: Instagram

Lara Bingle, 26, has had a pretty tumultuous relationship with cameras. At first they loved her, then they turned on her, failed her, and lately she just can’t escape them.

Last month, a spat with a snapper saw her maybe-husband Sam Worthington, 37, arrested in New York. Then in a complete 180, she used a pap shot to hawk a few of her favourite labels on Instagram.

Her latest headline winning on-camera moment was more intimate. She posted a photograph sunbathing next to bestie Vickie Lee, with a partially submerged tree in the background.

Both Bingle and Lee are topless, and Bingle later deleted the shot, but not before news sites (present company included) managed to grab screenshots to post and print.

It could be argued – as it often is with Bingle’s international reality counterpart Kim Kardashian – that anyone who willingly gives so much of herself away is also giving up all rights to a ‘private’ life.

It’s also tempting to think Bingle’s impulse to show off her body online means she’s ‘asking for’ nude photos to be taken of her – even when she isn’t.

These assumptions are a simplistic take on the complicated issue of reality versus Reality.

Posting nude photographs is actually a clever move that is both characteristic of Bingle and totally out of line with her guileless image. When she Instagrams herself naked, Bingle isn’t ‘asking for’ more naked photographs to be long-lens snapped of her without her permission by paparazzi; she’s actually cutting out the middleman.

Why would you pay for a blurry, dodgy shot of Lara Bingle from the paparazzi when you can go to her Instagram and grab a photograph that’s nicely composed, where she’s wearing even less clothing, for free?

Lara Bingle and Sam Worthington flee from paparazzi

We are not interested in seeing Lara Bingle naked because she takes naked photographs of herself. We’re interested in seeing naked photographs of her because she’s Lara Bingle. There are hundreds of thousands of women who happily share naked photographs of themselves with the internet every day, and none of them are making international news headlines.

There’s a general market for photographs of naked women on the internet, but there’s a specific market for photographs of naked Bingle. Websites are happy to pay big money to secure photographs of Bingle from paparazzi photographers – even when she’s wearing clothes – and by giving the shots away for free, Lara Bingle is ripping the bottom out of that market.

In September last year, I interviewed pop star Jessie J, whose every move is tracked by her 1.2 million-strong Instagram following. She also has a tendency to post candid (if more clothed) photographs of herself. She told me how, by sharing the moments she wants to share, she’s taking the wind out of the sails of those who seek to shoot her without her permission.

Jessie J diffuses paparazzi attention using Instagram

Jessie J said Instagram was a way for her to control her image and her message. She released as much of herself as she thought her fans wanted to see, so there was no need for them to look anywhere but her feeds when it comes to discovering what she’d been up to.

Between her Tumblr, her doco and her stream of Blue Ivy photos, Beyonce is an absolute master of this technique. Rihanna’s so skilled at the art of media manipulation through carefully released imagery that Camilla Paglia once compared her to Lady Diana. 

More disturbingly, the Obama administration have been accused of doing exactly the same thing –  obstructing the popular press, while at the same time releasing reams of more friendly, fluffy information through their own social channels. Michelle Obama’s Instagram, anyone?

It’s a worrying thing for the most powerful organisation in the world to be doing – their control-freak attitude to media relations is quashing press freedom. But for someone like Lara Bingle, who rarely sets her own foundation let alone a global agenda, using social media to cut the paps’ grass is a very smart choice.

Why then, I hear you wondering, did the Bingle delete her latest naked post after she Instagrammed it? Well, that’s an even deeper level of media manipulation. By stripping the nude from her own feed, Bingle has granted a photograph she clearly approves of the same illicit quality as the shots that have been taken and published without her permission.

People share pictures of themselves online when they’re feeling insecure, and when they’re feeling confident. They post when they’re vulnerable, and when they’re invincible. They snap selfies when they want attention –  and, in Lara Bingle’s case, sometimes they do it because they want to be left alone.

Good on Lara and her tree, she’s taking control of her own story, and you’ve got to admit, she’s a hard act to unfollow.

Here’s a look at a few other of Lara’s eye-catching Instagram images.

Do you think Lara Bingle is a secret media genius? Or did she just take a picture of herself and a tree? Are celebrities using Instagram to undercut the business model of the paparazzi?