Through my practice as a photographer without any genre boundaries I have heard my share of horrible stories about photo shoots gone wrong because of “nudes”. Or some sort of nudity being involved. I’ve heard models denouncing nude modeling as unprofessional. I’ve had people canceling shoots once they learned their “skin” or “body” in any way will not be fully covered by clothing during the shoot. I actually had one model responding to nude shoot casting call with a proposal of wearing a full nude-colored body suit so that it would look nude, but she won’t actually be nude but would still qualify for implied nude photoshoot.
Let’s start by saying that any professional photographer would respect model’s boundaries. Any professional photographer would let everyone on the team know what the concept of the shoot is, if there is nudity involved and so on. That’s basics of being a professional. The true source of these horror stories are “professional amateurs”. It’s a group of people who also known as “GWC” (as in “guy with camera“) that really have little interest in photography and are merely using it as means of peeking at some extra skin.
The real problem here is model’s own inability to tell the difference between a professional photographer working on a project and a guy with camera looking to have some extra excitement in his boring life. Or reluctance to deny a significant amount of money for an “almost too sleazy, but not quite there yet” photo shoot. If it’s too good to be true it probably is. Time after time my models are telling me pretty much same story: a guy sets up a paid high-end lingerie photo shoot at some questionable location and upon arrival they learn that makeup artist “cancelled at the last moment”, the high end lingerie “did not arrive on time” and this photographer is working on creative project shooting everything on his iPhone. Trying to gradually undress the model in the process.
While these types aren’t going anywhere they are pretty easy to spot and to avoid. The stress and drama could be avoided if a model feels comfortable to check references, review the portfolio and ask questions. There are literally hundreds of articles online on how to avoid being scammed like that. Most of them actually make sense.
Nevertheless, all this drama puts the whole “nude modeling” into a negative light. A lot of models even put something like “if I see nude pictures in your port – don’t talk to me at all” straight in their profiles and their modeling pages. I wonder if Moschino, Christian Dior, J Lo, American Apparel and others will ever be able to convince these models to work with them. Monica Bellucci, Katy Perry, Jennifer Lopez, Natalie Portmal, Eva Green (not to mention Kim Kardashian) and Wendy Williams will, of course, quit the industry tomorrow.
There’s too much misunderstanding going around nude, implied nude and semi-nude modeling. There are people that work with porn and erotica concepts, there is whole glamour and boudoir photography section, there is creative and artistic nude section and, of course, there is literally a ton of commercial material with nudity, semi-nudity and implied nudity. Painting anyone who does nude modeling as unprofessional – whether it’s a photographer who shoots nude models or models, who offer to pose nude to photographers or painters – is unprofessional on every level.
Nudity by itself is a very powerful concept. It reaches deep into instincts area (that’s your commercial and erotica nudity), but can also trigger emotional response as creative and artistic nudes do. It affects photographer and model just as strong as the audience they target. They develop a certain level of trust, connecting on a professional level to produce images that will have strong impact on emotional or instinctive level. There’s neither place nor time for inappropriate behavior. By focusing on delivering the best images – either for commercial client or for creative project – they can achieve great results. And that’s what separates professional photographers and models from people who are interested in peek-a-boob games.