Can you shoot nudes without being suspected as a creeper?

July 03, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

SnakeSnake I was at a portfolio session several years ago and the speaker went around the room asking what genres that the participants shot. I mentioned genres such as fashion.. portraits.. and occasionally artistic nudes. He comments was quite direct in that I had to be careful not to be considered a creeper!

Many of the elements that I have mentioned in prior posts apply directly to shooting nude images. Specifically working well with models, having a mood board, communication, and careful planning.

New photographers should almost always start by photographing clothed models. This allows the photographer to gain confidence in his or her skills with lighting, camera operation, and not the least of all communication with the model. If the photographer is not confident, it will make the session even more awkward for everyone and potentially set a bad reputation for the photographer.

Commercial group nude workshops can be a good jumping point once the photographer has the basics down.  Although these can be somewhat expensive, these workshops are often organized by experienced photographers and attended by professional nude models. These events often allow models and photographers to meet and greet before or after the sessions and allows a chance for everyone at least a chance to get to know each other.

Many models may check references before agreeing to model nude in front of a photographer that they have never worked with in the past. Having a list of models that are willing to vouch for the photographer is almost a must when venturing into this genre.  Provide names of models that you have worked with 1:1 in the past. If you have not worked with any models 1:1, now is the time to start.  

When contacting and working with a nude model,

  • Be VERY specific and honest as to what you want to shoot. Date, time, place, wardrobe (if any), makeup, and concept. If you tell a model you want to shoot artistic nudes and when she arrives start talking about erotica, she may turn around and leave or easily double her price!
  • Don't ask for nude pics of her (or him). This is a MAJOR creeper alert. If the model has posed nude in the past, her nude images are likely in the portfolio that you should have reviewed prior to contact.
  • Don't push boundaries. Don't try to push a fashion model into a nude shoot. Even if she agrees, the images will likely awkward and not work to anyone's benefit. Again, pushing could land you a creeper label.
  • Consider having a makeup artist or assistant with you, especially with a female model. If your concept involves body paint- hire a professional body painter. You may wish to provide an area for the model to shower after a body paint session.
  • DON'T use slang names for body parts. Be respectful and use commonly accepted names for body parts such as 'bottom' for someones rear end.
  • Obviously DON'T TOUCH a nude model.
  • Keep a robe ready for her (or him) when not actually shooting. This is respectful and may also keep the model warm in a cold studio. An associated point, if working in a studio- keep in slightly warm.
  • If shooting outdoors, make SURE that you are in a private location.  If you have an assistant, he/she can keep watch for anyone who may accidentally walk into the set.
  • It can be helpful to start a session with the model at least partially clothed, even if the images will not be used in the final concept. This helps build confidence for all involved. 
  • Avoid using phrases like: "You are very sexy..."  This could put up the creeper antenna and certainly is not professional. This also goes for any images that may be posted on line with few exceptions.
  • Allow the model a private place to dress and undress without you watching.
  • Social Media- remember terms of service for sites like Facebook or Instagram that do not allow you to post nude images. 

Remember, most states only allow someone 18 years or older to pose nude. Ask for identification and make sure that her actual age is listed on any model release. There may be legal penalties for the photographer for not obtaining this information. Nude art has been around for centuries, and some fantastic images can be made with professionals work well together!

Bob Barford is an award willing published photographer based in Pennsylvania.






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