This is a post for all the dude photographers out there. I really don't want to be writing this, because I don't think it should have to be said, but apparently it does. This post is simply a call and reminder to treat your models with the respect that they deserve. I want to talk about respecting your subject's boundaries in general, but I also want to address the psychological part within men's minds that makes them want to see women naked.
It's probably always been this way -- male photographers trying to get their female subjects to take their clothes off -- but I think it's gotten way worse in the last few years. I see a lot (A LOT) of Instagram accounts of male photographers whose sole subject matter is nude women, which isn't at all a bad thing, don't get me wrong. The female body is something to be admired and has been used as a subject of all art forms for thousands of years.
But if you study art history at all, you'll quickly learn the difference between nudity and nakedness. It was common practice for painters to depict their nude subjects as being fully nude, and not in a state of undress. This was because depicting a model undressing was seen as being voyeuristic, inappropriate and inherently sexual, whereas painting a model fully nude was seen as appreciating the body for its artistically pleasing qualities. I think the same can be said today.
But I think it's the method in which some of these guys get these girls to take their clothes off that is so inappropriate; so I want to take a minute to talk about that.
It seems that there are some photographers out there that get into the industry just so they can be around attractive women.
I know this to be true from personal conversations with some of these guys as well as through stories from some of my model friends. This isn't a witch hunt, so I won't be naming names, but I know several guys whose sole purpose for their photography is to see hot girls naked.
Here are a couple true stories.
Story 1: Male photographer reaches out to a model and invites her over to "watch a movie and maybe cuddle" at his place. She refuses, naturally, but shoots with him anyway at a later date. Male photographer makes several more sexual advances after the shoot and then threatens to hold the photos he took hostage until she sleeps with him.
Story 2: This is more of a quote than a story, but I've witnessed a photographer post as a caption on more than one of his photos: "Yes, I touch my models... (Winky face)."
And it doesn't end there. A lot of my guy friends have admitted to me that, "It must be nice to hang out with all those beautiful women all the time," and, "Do you ever get any of them naked?"
I saw a friend post this recently. The first guy tries to blackmail who he thinks is a woman into sending him nudes after seeing "her" post a nude photo of "herself" on Instagram. It doesn't go as planned.
So... It's a problem.
Let me take a moment to say that, while I am not in the business of shooting nudes, boudoir, or really anything sexual or provocative, most of my clients are female; so I have a pretty good grip on how to act around the opposite sex on set.
Here are a few tips on how to shoot women.
1. Open communication: Always be up front with your intentions before, during, and after a shoot. If you want to shoot something racy, ask. Never pressure them after you've already started shooting. Never post any of those photos online without permission from the model, either.
2. Don't touch: Holy crap -- just don't touch a model. Do I even have to explain this one?
3. Be considerate: Just be a decent human being. If your model is changing, walk away. If she's adjusting her wardrobe on set, look away. Don't gawk at her like a pervert. EYE CONTACT, MAN.
4. Watch your mouth: Compliments are great, but when you tell a model she's got a nice butt, you're being a douche bag.
5. No means no: Manipulation isn't cool. If you want to shoot a boudoir session, a swimsuit series, artistic nudes, etc., and the model you had in mind says, "No," then that's the end of the discussion -- period.
So that's my two cents on the matter. Whatever your niche is as a photographer, your intentions will show in your work. If your intentions are to objectify women, it'll be apparent. If your intention is to make beautiful art, people will be able to tell.
I’m a commercial music, portrait and lifestyle photographer based in Nashville, Tennessee. If you’d like to see more of my work, head over to my website.