Most photographers will at some point would like to try photographing the nude. The most common issue is where do you find models or people who are happy to get naked for you?
There are several ways you can get nude models. Most people will start with partners or friends. Although partners are usually people you see and spend time with them nude on a regular basis, does not automatically mean that they will be willing to be photographed nude.
So what are the options?
Some photographers get models in shopping centres or the street. They will see somebody they would like to photograph and just walk up to them and ask if they would like to pose for them. Yes you can get models from the street or shopping centres, but this method I feel can very quickly lead to major problems, especially in this day and age.
The pro’s of this approach are, that there are plenty of potential models out there.
The con’s of this approach are many and varied. The most important one is the person can easily be under-age which can be a disaster. A lot of young women can look like any age, depending on how they dress, makeup hair style etc. It is too hard to just guess and can get you in a lot of hot water. People are also very guarded now a days and will see such an approach as predatory. Not everyone wants to be a model and most will freak at suggesting posing nude.
On a few occasions you might get lucky and find a willing participant this way who is over 18, but you will often have gone through hundreds of no thank you’s, face slaps or bad accusations to get there. It is just not worth the problems.
I have asked a few people I already knew in local businesses and shops I frequent and out of those very few said yes they wanted to try it. Most would not even talk to me after asking them, even though I had a professional portfolio I could show them, a professional studio I work out of, and a known business name. Imagine the response you would get without anything to show other than enthusiasm.
Another approach is to first just offer a clothed photo shoot such as fashion (don’t even ask about swimwear or lingerie in this situation). If you find someone and managed to do a photo shoot with them AND it went well, then and only then talk to them about swimwear or an artistic nude photo shoot.
Another approach is to put an advert in a newspaper or local online market place.
The pro’s are you will get a lot of response.
The Con’s you will get all kinds of weirdos and time waster too. No control over what type of model/person responds (might not be what you where after).
The pros’s are that plenty of models to choose from. Can find models who will pose for free (if you give them some photos of the shoot in return and of good enough quality). You choose the type of model you want for your photos. People on the site want to model. Models will indicate that they are happy to pose nude.
The Con’s are, a lot are unreliable. Most models don’t want to pose nude. Most don’t even reply to your enquiry. Some of the best models are expensive…..but worth every dollar. You will need to have a portfolio of photos to upload or your profile will get rejected.
When contacting models, always be courteous, state what you want to achieve and be totally honest. Most models can spot a bullshit artist or con artist a mile away. It is their business and they have had experience with dealing with “fake” photographers. Tell the model you are an amateur and are looking for experience and to build a portfolio. Most good models understand this and will help out. Some are very busy and get booked out, so they might not have time for new photographers. Don’t take it personally, they have to choose the best assignments as it is their business and have a short working life.
Always allow a model to bring along a friend or chaperone. Always. If you don’t that is a sure sign to them that you don’t have admirable intentions. Oh and they have heard every excuse you might come up with and will terminate all discussion with you from then on. Think about it from their point of view. They are young women going to a strange man’s house or a remote outdoor location away from help. They will be totally nude. Now you imagine doing that and how you would feel? Please give them respect.
In your contact state clearly what work you want to do. If you want to do artistic nudes, then state that. However please stick with that when the model arrives. The most common complaint from models is photographers who say they want to do artistic nudes, but when the model arrives they try to get them to do explicit or adult work, or worse, try to have sex with the model. Remember that these are models, not sex workers. If you want to do adult work, then tell the model that before you finalise the booking. Most artistic nude models will refuse to do adult work, as that is not what they want to do. You will have to seek specialised adult models who are fine with that. Do not waste yours or the models time by asking them to do the type of work outside the range that they specify they are happy to do.
It is a small specialised niche industry. Everyone knows everyone else, so if you do something bad to a model or she has a bad experience with you, she will tell all the models she knows, who will then tell all the models they know. Before you know it, no one will want to work with you.
Word of mouth. As you get better reputation by being friendly courteous, and letting models bring a friend or chaperone and start producing good work, you will get models telling their friends who will then want to shoot with you. A lot of the models I worked with came from other models referring me by telling their friends that I was good to work with, professional and achieved good results.
Next issue: So you found a model willing to pose nude…now what?