One of the reactions I frequently get from amateur photographers is envy. There are questions like "Who is she?", "How did you find her?", and "Is she really nude?". The last one I have always found to be a strange question. Yes, she really is.
One of the obstacles that some amateur photographers put in front of themselves is being shy. They are afraid to ask, and afraid to direct. I knew someone years ago, upon seeing my pictures, his eyes lit up and he said "This has always been my dream". I offered to set up a shoot with a model for him, and he backed out. He never did take me up on the offer. In running a photography workshop, after doing my presentation, I had to prompt the photographers multiple times to go ask the models to pose. The thing to keep in mind is that they are likely not going to be offended, especially on fashion work. Showing some confidence and initiative goes a long ways.
Even getting a nude model is not as hard as is commonly believed. You don't need to ask a stripper, that likely won't go well anyhow. Many women are willing to pose nude for art projects, so the first step is to have an art concept in mind. Also have some good sample photographs to show. In Peter Gowland's books he even mentions asking friends. At first I thought that was crazy, but over the years a number of friends have posed for me, some actually asked me if they could. None have been offended.
There are a number of things that will put off a model. Bad photographs are one. She is likely self conscious about her appearance to begin with, poor quality images will just make that worse. Many are worried about what other people will think. Friends, family, Significant Other. Anonymous photos may be a remedy to that. Some will be worried about the image being too explicit, in which an implied nude may be acceptable. Being nude on set may be a concern, so a towel or robe to cover until set may be needed.
No reason for taking the image could be a big one. Just as there are shy photographers, there are those that go two far. Touching, or making sexually suggestive remarks will likely make the model uncomfortable. They are referred to as GWCs (Guy With Camera). It is ok to give a compliment, but flirting, and pushing for more than the model is comfortable with is very unprofessional. Even and amateur photographer can be professional and courteous. Stick to the creation of the image, and always honor the agreement on how they are to be used or displayed. Don't touch the model.
In getting models, aside from some of the links here, there is modelmayhem.com. In the past there was craigslist, the more recently I have been getting too many scams and spam from there. You may have heard of TFP, or TFCD. Sometimes you will see the terms "Collaberation" or "Test". It is important to realize that these are no magic words to get free modeling. TFP/TFCD is a trade deal where the model gets pictures in exchange for her time. Too often someone offers TFP/TFCD because they "are learning". This would actually be the time when you should not be thinking about TFP/TFCD because you don't have shots of value to offer her. If your still learning, pay the model for her time. There may be exceptions if a friend is posing for you, or if the model is really interested in helping with an art project, but a guide line for when you can start doing TFP/TFCD would be when models are asking for you to shoot in trade.
On set, make sure you are prepared, have your equipment, and conditions are safe. Snacks and water are a good addition. Have a private changing area, even for nude work. Take breaks. A good tip is to have sample pictures or a posing guide. It can be hard to get started and the visuals will help. Don't be afraid to use imagination, and a major item is to learn to communicate with the model. The images are not just you, and not just her. It takes both.
I was shooting at Hermosa beach pier yesterday. I had shot some beach scenes, children playing at a distance, birds. boats, sun on the water, and life guard towers. I was lined up to get a shot of a volleyball game, one of the buildings in the background, the players, net, and sand, waiting to get the ball in motion at the right spot. Generally capturing a typical Southern California Beach scene. From behind me I hear "He's taking a picture of her ass", a guy laughing about it as he walked past. With out moving I said "No, I'm not" but I doubt he heard me. I didn't want to move from my shooting position to see where he went, or who he was talking to. A similar thing happened at the Redondo Beach pier once, I heard a comment about "Girl watcher", but that person at least got close enough to see the screen on my camera and realized I was shooting sunlight reflections on the water. I have discovered that my telephoto lens and I can clear an area around me on the assumption that I am shooting girls in bikinis. It might seem a logical assumption, given the stereotypical expectation for men. Thinking about it though, I can't say I have seen it happen much. Most people run around with their phone cameras with a lens so short that a girl in a bikini at 50 yards is not in much danger of become the next internet star. There is a yearly topless equal rights protest in Venice Beach, but they ask people to take pictures and post them. Recalling who I saw on this particular day, there were the people taking their selfies, and typical tourist photos. There was a group of girls with a decent camera, I suspect they may have been doing a photo class project. There was no legion of men with telephoto lenses shooting unsuspecting girls. I don't think that I have seen one, ever. So one has to wonder where the reputation comes from.
I have shot girls in swimwear, or less, when they agree to pose. We work on the stories, lighting, poses, looks and emotions. Sniping an unsuspecting girl on the beach just to get tiny image of her in a bikini, doesn't really appeal to me. If I am going to do a photo, I need to produce something of better quality, and emotion. Yet there is this assumption, that a guy on the beach with a camera must be shooting the girls.
The Unseen Women series was always intended to have a companion. Too often people treat each other horribly. My intention was to finish the Unseen Women series first, then do the second series, but there are things happening in my life that are a motivation to start this series. If you would like to help out send me a note.
It is unfortunate, but there are people in the world that should not be trusted. Anywhere from a GWC (Guy With Camera) hoping to get a girl's clothes off to true predators that could put a woman in real danger. For that reason we strongly recommend that all models consider the following safety tips and information:
The following are provided as general guidelines for protecting yourself
1. When attending a shoot, or meeting with someone for the first time, always take a chaperon. This should be someone who does not make you self conscious. Parents are a good idea if you are under 18, but if you are over 18 it may not be a good idea depending on the format of the shoot. A supportive boyfriend may work, a jealous boyfriend would not.
2. Never put your full address or phone number on any post in a modeling forum or other public area.
3. Be very careful regarding posts and e-mail from anyone with a generic or free (hotmail, yahoo, etc.) e-mail address. Legitimate photographers put a lot of money in to equipment, so while it is possible for a good photographer to use a free email address, it is more likely that they would have their own domain. A free email may be a sign of someone that wishes to be anonymous.
4. Obtain as much information you can about those you are considering working with. Online reputation may reveal scam, or those that are prone to harassing models, not living up to agreements, or not paying.
5. Ask for references and examples of prior work. This will give you an idea of the type of work they do, the quality, and help establish that they are a real photographer. Problem people will often come up with excuses why they can't give you pictures, or get angry that you asked. Most photographers have a web page.
6. Prior to arranging a shoot, discuss and clearly agree on the subject matter of the shoot. You should know ahead of time if it is fashion, swimwear, lingerie opaque or sheer, implied nude, nude, or explicit nude. That is all part of the agreement and you should have the opportunity to refuse rather than being pressured after you are on site.
7. Ensure that the terms of the shoot are established in advanced (TFP, pay rate, expenses, etc).
8. Be certain to get a verifiable home and/or studio phone number, and street address, for anyone you work with. Know who you are working with. Anonymous is not good and you need contact info in case there are any issues with the appointment. If there is a company name, check it's reputation. It should be searchable, and corporations should be in state databases. It should not be an unknown company even if it is new.
9. If it is necessary to go to a shoot alone. Call someone to let them know where you are, who you are with (get ID #) and when you are expected to return. If anything changes call to update the information.
10. Decide what your limits are and stick to them. Don't ever let someone talk you into posing in a manner that you are not comfortable with. For some work you might be a bit nervous and there may be times when you want to go a bit further than originally planned, but still think about if you will be happy with the work. Ask yourself if you are doing it because you are excited about doing something new, or if you are feeling pressured by what someone else expects. Don't be afraid to say no.
11. If you pose for a picture, plan for it to be seen unless you are doing a private set with a reputable photographer. For private sets, usually you would be paying the photographer, otherwise consider why they would take the pictures and never show them.
12. Those who can't meet the tests may get upset, send insults, threats, or insinuate what they could have done for you. This behavior is unprofessional and is just an indicator that there was no legitimate job to begin with.
13. Read the model release, preferable before the shoot, and make changes as necessary. The use of the photos is an important item. You may be ok posing nude for an artistic purpose, but not with being posted on a porn site.
14. Beware of craigslist. Anymore there are more scams than legitimate offers. Actual modeling sites with have better ratios.
15. For any offers of TFP/TFCD you should make sure you are going to get quality pictures. Don't waste time with someone "learning" and don't do product promotions for free.
I read a recent article about pinups had some statement that bothered me. It talked about pictures in the past objectifying women, and presented the idea that it was changing now due to there being more female photographers. I don't really think this is fair to either the photographers, or the models, present or past. Granted there have been those that sought to exploit women, but I am not convinced that they were ever the majority. Throughout the history of photography, there have been the artists, those who who were learning about the craft, and the women who posed for them, because they wanted to. They sought to express something, or to show beauty.
It is often asked why many photographers shoot nudes. The conventional answer is that men like to look at nude women. While that has an element of truth in it, it is far from the whole story. There is the GWC (Guy With Camera) that uses his camera as a scam to get women undressed. What about the real photographer/artist? The person that puts years in to learning their skill, hours or days in to planning and creating a single image. A nude image can be used to express many ideas, depending on how it is presented. Sexuality is the first thing that comes to mind, but it also can be used to present vulnerability? Freedom? contrast? Rebellion? or simply explore the human form?. To categorize an artist in with the GWC or pornographer is really a slap in the face and very disrespectful of the time, planning and care they put in to their creations. Despite the stereotype typically attributed to men, I have seen several working on the set of a nude shoot looking off another direction because they did not want to offend the model by looking at her.
Then there is the partner of the photographer, the model. The images could not be created without her. Why does a woman taker her clothes off for the camera. Again, people conventionally say that she was doing it for money, that the photographer was taking advantage of her, or conning her in to doing the photos for his own motivations. Painting her as a victim, or a foolish exploited girl. This is mostly an image painted by people with no experience with real shoots. If the pinup models of the past were objectified as the article suggested, then why would I have a model? from the other end of the state contact me to do pinup photos of her, not for money, or even at my request. I have also seen women who were not models, just posing for some pretty pictures, get a gleam in their eye, look around, and peel off their top. The real reason that women pose nude? It is because they want to. It might be to feel pretty, or sexy. Perhaps to go against a social convention that they don't really believe in. To explore how they feel about their bodies, or just to help create art and be a part of it. Again there is a stereotype that women who pose nude, are dumb, gullible or easy. I have found this to be far from the truth. They are intelligent, respectable people.
If an average woman is asked about posing nude, their reason for not posing is usually not about what they think or believe. It is about what someone else thinks, either that don't think they look good enough, or are worried about what parents, boyfriend, friends, etc. will think.
Why create nude art? Because it pulls attention, from both men and women. It touches emotions in the viewer. I like sunsets, and have shot many of them, people looking at them usually say "nice". It is the pictures that are much more human that get "Wow!"
I was just reading a lot of posts where people were very confused about copyright. A lot of violations are posted on line, and it is surprising the reasons people come up with for doing it.
1. The work doesn't have a copyright notice so I don't need permission.
False. Since March 1, 1989 copyright notice has been optional. The work is automatically copyrighted from the time it put in a fixed form.
2. If I give credit I don't need permission.
False. You still need permission to use the material. This may clear you of plagiarism, but not copyright.
3. I'm only using a small portion of the original work, I don't need permission.
Maybe, maybe not. There are some provisions for "Fair Use", this would usually be in the context of a quote. It would likely not cover photo manipulations. There is no percentage of change that makes it okay.
4. I don't need permission because I'm going to modify the original work.
False. Copyright law grants copyright owners the exclusive right to control modifications of their works. You need permission to create derivative works, including photo manipulations or fan fiction.
5. Everyone is doing the same thing, so I should be able to also.
False. This is one of the strangest reasons I have seen. Other people violating the copyright does not make it public domain and other people breaking the law does not make something legal or right.
6. The material I want to reproduce was posted to an online discussion or news group. !!!That means the work is in the public domain.
False. The owner may have posted it there for their own reasons, but that does not grant permission to copy. It may also be that the post was in itself a copyright violation that the owner is unaware of.
7. I purchased a copy so I have the right to post it.
False. What you purchased was the copy you have, not the right to reproduce, modify or publish it.
8. I didn't see anything that said I couldn't use it, so I don't need permission.
False. Copyright in the US is automatic when the work is created and belongs to the creator unless there is a written agreement transferring it to another person, or it was a work for hire done by and employee. In the case of a photograph, the copyright belongs to the photographer.
9. I downloaded it from whateversite.com so I have permission to use it.
False. To start with, do you know that site had permission? Were you given a license granting permission? As an example, there are a lot of online music sites which are selling MP3 files which they don't own or have license to distribute.
10. I don't have the ability to produce it myself so I have to use other people's work.
False. Yes, someone actually said this. There are many people that dream of being an artist, singer or entertainer, but there are not shortcuts. The people that created the material put a lot of effort in to their work and the copyright law is designed to protect them, not to allow those who have not put in the effort to participate for free.
Basic theme here, if you didn't create it, you need permission from the person who did to use it.
11. I'm not hurting anyone. False Personally I have lost thousands of dollars to copyright theft. People redistributing my work caused a dramatic drop in sales.
I made this video with some of the pictures from the Unseen Women Series along with music by my friend Natalie Womack . It turned out to be a really powerful combination, more so than I expected. Even though I was with Natalie in the studio when the album was recorded, and I have worked with the pictures many times, when I started doing the last playbacks on this I found myself getting emotional about it.
For several years I have been working on an artistic series on abuses of women.
The mood of this series is dark but I think that it will be a worth while endeavor and those that have seen it have had very strong reactions to it. This series was inspired by the many people that have confided in me over the years. I have often been in the position of consoling and advising someone that had been hurt but I have always wished that I could change the situation before someone gets hurt. From time to time I have tried to write and post something that would make a difference somewhere but with little effect. I am not a writer and lack the talent to really influence people in that media. I am a photographer though. Visual images are part of my natural thought processes and I do see people react to the images that I make. So this is my attempt to make a difference, even if only to one person. Many of the images are disturbing but they are designed to be so. They are designed to get attention and cut into complacency.
Years ago I had a group of Scouts out on a camping trip. In the evening they were standing around the fire and a group of girls walked past the camp several times. These boys got started yelling things out to the girls that were getting a bit rude. I could have just yelled at them to cut it out but thinking about he situation I realized that though they would to what I told them they would not learn anything from it and would be likely to repeat the behavior when I was not around. The core of the problem was that they were not seeing these girls as people, they were objects. So the next time they came by I walked up to them, explained the problem I was trying to solve and invited them over to our fire. I will never forget the shocked looks on the boy's faces just before they ran and hid in their tents. This series, though it is more serious has the same principle To make people see a person who has been hurt. Someone who can't be dismissed by saying "she was just......." or "she should have......."
This series is my attempt to get people to see what they have not looked at, and hopefully motivate them to change a little piece of the world.