Five Tips on Working With Nude Models

If you are thinking about shooting nude models, there are a few extra things you want to consider beyond other photoshoots. Here are a few tips to help you get started.

Experience levels of models all vary,  and it's not any different when working with nude models. Some models do not have any concerns and are carefree about their bodies while others may be shooting nude work for the first time and are nervous and shy. Of course, you want to do your best to make them comfortable so you both can produce amazing work but here are some tips to keep in mind. In this video from photographer Brett Seeley along with his colleagues, they share five tips to help out on your next nude photoshoot. 

At the end of the video, you can even get a glimpse into the actual nude body sock photo shoot. You get a glimpse into the interaction during the shoot as well as the camera settings for each photo. While some of these tips seem kind of obvious, just make sure to keep them in mind at all times during the shoot to make sure everything goes smoothly. 

Do you have any other tips for photographers when they work with nude models? Leave them in the comments below.

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8 Comments

Jon Winkleman's picture

I had my first figure drawing class with a nude model when I was 16 and shoot nudes in photography today. I was also sexually assaulted when I was 18. I take the subject of respect for models seriously. I agree with everything in the video but would also add that the issues of consent in the post #metoo era also apply to professionalism when working with nude models.

If nudity or partial nudity is an integral part of a shoot,

1) It must be discussed in advance with potential models before booking them. This means being specific as to what the shoot is about and the specifics as to what level of nudity will be in the finished images and what is required of the model. It is never acceptable to book a model on one premise and then demand something that was not agreed to in advance. Models can agree to consent to doing more during a shoot but nudity cannot be demanded of them nor can pressure be applied to them to do something that was not agreed to in advance.

2) Mere consent is not enough. Consent for nudity, like consent for sex, should be enthusiastic. Do not book a model that is second-guessing or is not totally sure they want to do nudes. No matter how great a model’s look may be, if they are not 100% enthusiastic about doing a nude shoot if nudity is a core part of that shoot, thank them, tell them you absolutely would like to work with them on other projects but that you need to book someone who has more confidence in their decision to do nudity. Let the model know it is OK to be uncomfortable and unless they are 100% sure, they should not book that shoot.

3) If a model feel uncomfortable during a shoot they have a right to end the shoot. This is why it is important to only book a model who is certain they are comfortable with nudity and what will be required of them for a shoot. This is where agreed to financial compensation comes into play. If a model had agreed to nudity in advance of booking and changes their mind at the time of the shoot, ethically the photographer is not obligated to pay them. However if a model agreed to a non-nude or sexual shoot and the photographer insists or pressures them at the shoot to do nudity and sex under pressure and the model ends the shoot, ethically the model still has a right to demand payment.

4) You are booking models not prostitutes or porn stars. Even on an actual porn set, performers are not prostitutes, the directors or producers do not have right to touch them, harass them or disrespect them.

Show respect. If a model agrees to nudity or a sexual situation the photographer only has the right to take the picture. No physical contact with the model is permitted. If there is a stylist or if the photographer needs to move hair, a prop or adjust clothing, they should direct the model to avoid physical contact. If contact is absolutely necessary permission must be given and contact should be strict professional and minimal as possible. A model has the right to withdraw permission at any time.

5) As in the video above any direction should use professional and respectful language.

6) Safety escorts for the model can be disruptive, I have heard both sides and personally have found them distracting. Even if models escorts are not allowed on set, work with models to find a compromise so they feel safe. Agree to escorts off set and outside the studio. For an outdoor shoot I have agreed to escorts waiting int hew car with a book. No onset distraction but the models feel safe. Try to come to a mutual agreement so all parties feel safe.

7) Releases are signed after the shoot, not in advance. Prompt payment is made after a release is signed.

8) Explain to models in advance repeatedly and clearly, they have a right to say “NO” and that “no, means no.”

william hicks's picture

I wish, instead we get the charmers in this town who brag about pushing a nude model "past their limits".

Jon Winkleman's picture

Hopefully word gets around that the “charmers” are creepers to be avoided. Some of my favorite photographers such as Maplethorpe have shot explicit images and I will defend their right to do so as long as it was fully consensual with the subjects.

David Love's picture

Not really sure why they needed three guys there for a nude shoot that consist of him just clicking the shutter from a tripod. Want to make a nude model not feel weird? Maybe less guys standing around smiling as if they just ate the canary.

Jon Winkleman's picture

On movie sets they frequently ask people who are not directly needed to operate cameras, lights act to leave the set for nude scenes to make the actors more comfortable. However when shooting still photographs you do not want a large audience but having a single assistant or two such as ahair and makeup person, especially if it is a woman assistant when the model is a woman, can also provide a safe space as the model isn’t alone somewhere with someone they do not know. If it is within the budget of the shoot it is preferred to have a separate hair and makeup assistant when possible to further reassure that the photographer will not have to touch or have physical contact with the model. Like with every other part of a planned new shoot, if assistants will be on set, that and the gender of the assistants should be discussed with the model before booking them.

David Love's picture

That's why I have no problem with escorts coming with them but if it is more than one model, then escorts wait outside or can't come because even if it's their girlfriend for example, the other models aren't. But I would never have people standing around, especially other men.

Deleted Account's picture

Not sure why this was posted...too brief and not very helpful.

Eric Robinson's picture

Having a shoot with any model in a studio is an intimate and shared experience. One where the model is nude makes it more so. The model should always know clothed or not what you intend to shoot, this is pretty basic. At no time should a photographer decide to change what was agreed beforehand unless there are very good aesthetic reasons for doing it and you receive the model's full consent. When it comes to shooting nude models the keywords are respect and distancing. Models are no fools are they will very quickly realize a photographer who is not to be trusted. Acting in a way that puts the model at their ease is not something that can't be taught is more about the way one naturally behaves. I always know when I have it right when the model is so much at ease when they ask to have a look at the images off the back of the camera and they approach me, at which time I always stand back.
Never ever touch a model and if the model is unclothed then treat it like a case of social distancing. Always remember you are being honored in that you are shooting someone in an incredibly vulnerable position and as such, you should treat them in a way that you are acknowledging that. If you feel the need to have a cold shower beforehand then this is something you should not be doing.