First time nude photo shoot for photographer and model
March 31, 2011 5:51 AM   Subscribe

I need advice about how to ensure a photo shoot and the resulting photos will be privacy protected.

I'm planning a photo session with a coffee shop friend of mine who is developing a long-time photography talent/avocation into a professional career. He's a talented photographer, and the head shots I've looked at are beautifully done.

I am an artist and writer, and have interest in having some photographs taken that would be sort of visual expressions for me of poignant statements. I have had two distinct ideas/subject matters I am interest in exploring, expressing somehow in photographs.

Both ideas are very personal (one about issues regarding breast cancer), and both ideas would involve nudity on some level.

I have three questions. First, especially up front as I am not sure what I want to do with these photos yet, what do I need to do/get in writing to ensure these photos do NOT get leaked onto the internet/whole world and to have complete decision making power/rights over where he shows them?

Second, the photographer is interested at some point in doing art gallery showings of his photography. What do I need to negotiate with him regarding a profit or percentage of sale if I decide to allow any shots to be exhibited?

And third,

He's shown me some old and striking art photo books (from 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s) and his artistic sensibility about nudes seems to be just that. However, he mentioned to me that he's not sure his wife will be okay with him taking nude photos. His studio is in his home. I am reluctant to be his first "nude model" knowing he may have issues there.

We were scheduled to do a preliminary (potentially clothed....maybe partial nudity) shoot today, but I'm realizing I have some unanswered questions that are important. I'd appreciate sound advice. Thanks!
posted by sleeping beauty to Media & Arts (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Oh, and, FYI, I'll probably discuss all three of these issues with him before the shoot (rescheduling if needed) and need guidance especially on the first two questions. Thanks.
posted by sleeping beauty at 5:53 AM on March 31, 2011

If you want to make sure no nude photos of you hit the internet, don't take any nude pictures of yourself.

However, if you want to do your best to ensure this doesn't happen and you still want to go ahead with it, make sure they shoot in film, and make sure you get the negatives and any prints yourself.
posted by Grither at 6:05 AM on March 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Typically the model doesn't get paid a percentage of the profit. They are usually paid a flat, hourly modeling fee and sign a release and that is it. If you get photos out of it then your fee is lowered accordingly. In many cases where the subject and the photographer get an equal amount of use out of the photos then there is just a TFP arrangement (Time For Prints) with no money changing hands. The release would reflect any arrangement for the rights each of you gets to publish or use the images. If he is generous enough to give you a percentage then find something that works for both of you. The agreement and release should be handled before any photographs are taken.
posted by JJ86 at 6:06 AM on March 31, 2011

Best answer: What you are asking for would be very unusual in the normal way of a photographer-model relationship, if the 'photographer' is here the artist and you the 'model'. If the other way round, you are the 'artist' and he's a 'technician', especially if you are paying him, what you are asking for may be in the normal bounds, I guess. But what you are proposing seems to be a hybrid of the two.

"what do I need to do/get in writing to ensure these photos do NOT get leaked onto the internet/whole world". If he's making them for you, as a favour or for hire, then he either turns over all files etc or makes an undertaking never to circulate electronically or any other way you don't like. But you're saying in effect the photographer can never post them on the internet as an example of his work, which seems weird in the twenty-first century, so if he considers himself an artist he may balk.

"have complete decision making power/rights over where he shows them?" Again, if he considers himself an artist, not just a hired hand or friend working for you, he may balk. I can't imagine an artist/author agreeing to this.

"Second, the photographer is interested at some point in doing art gallery showings of his photography. What do I need to negotiate with him regarding a profit or percentage of sale if I decide to allow any shots to be exhibited?" Very unusual for a model to get royalties or share of profits from a photographer exhibiting shots of him or her.

Bear in mind if he does show the pictures in a gallery, it's easy as pie for someone to photograph the photographs on the walls and post them to the internet.

"However, he mentioned to me that he's not sure his wife will be okay with him taking nude photos. His studio is in his home. I am reluctant to be his first "nude model" knowing he may have issues there." You both seem so nervous about this nudity thing that maybe you should think again. That or relax a bit: the internet's awash with nude photos, who cares?
posted by londongeezer at 6:10 AM on March 31, 2011 [3 favorites]

Make him sign a "work for hire" contract, after being sure that he fully understands the implications of doing so. That would essentially strip him all of his rights to do anything with the photographs, ever, and (assuming the wording was proper) would assign the copyright, ownership, and all rights to you.

Now, as a photographer, I wouldn't sign one, at least for something like this. I'd put an agreement together that we could both could live with stating that I'd retain the copyright, but that I would not put any of the photos to any future use without your specific approval on a case by case, image by image basis.

Also, as a photographer, if I got your permission to use any of the pictures in a gallery show, I'd either want to do it without having to give you a percentage of sales, or I'd just not show them.
posted by imjustsaying at 6:20 AM on March 31, 2011 [2 favorites]

If it's your intention to commission nude photos of yourself (for whatever reason) and want to prohibit the photographer from ever displaying or showing those photos in any manner (including, I assume, as part of their portfolio), you will have to purchase total rights to the images and also purchase all negatives and prints of the images. This is very expensive. Normally, the photographer retains rights to at least use the photos in their portfolio.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:22 AM on March 31, 2011

It sounds really like neither of you are entirely comfortable with the idea so as it stands either don't do it or work on adjusting your level of comfort. I doubt a contract will ultimately help with the comfort level.

Speaking as a photographer, you're asking for more concessions than a professional is going to give you for anything less than an astronomical amount of money, so it's good that you're not working with a professional. Treating your guy as a friend, then, if you don't trust this guy as a friend to behave with regards to photographs of your body absent any financial/legal agreement, then just don't do it.

Will echo londongeezer, also -- nudes are everywhere, everyone has a body anyhow.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:32 AM on March 31, 2011

Best answer: I'm an amateur photographer with no gallery aspirations, whose work has included a decent number of artsy or mildly erotic nudes. Just to put the rest of this in perspective.

If he's trying to build a career as a photographer, he's going to want to be able to show these photographs in public, whether in galleries or as part of his portfolio, which tese days generally means online. There will be some small but non-zero risk of the photos winding up in wide circulation online regardless of your or his intentions.

If you're not comfortable with that, don't take nude photos. There's a huge difference between pornstar nudity and tasteful art nudity about breast cancer, but I'm not going to tell you your concerns are therefore overblown; it's about your comfort level. (Personally I use the "mom test" if I'm unsure -- if I'm ok with the idea of my mom seeing a particular photo, then it's probably tasteful enough for it to safely wind up on the internet. But YMomMV.)

The only common photographer/model relationship in which you would wind up with "complete decision making power/rights over where he shows them" would be one in which you have ownership of the photos yourself -- the "work for hire" deal others have described here. In this situation you'd be hiring him to take the photos, you would keep the negatives or files, and you'd be the one putting them in galleries (or not), not him. This wouldn't help him build his career at all, but he might be willing to do this just for the practice. Or he might not.

More common is the reverse work-for-hire situation: the model is paid a negotiated fee by the photographer and the photographer winds up with ownership.

Now, you're both amateurs at this point, and you can agree to deal with it however you like, treat it as a collaboration with joint ownership of the results, whatever, but know that it's not how things are usually done, so you'd be making it up as you go along, so you'll need to be extra clear about how to handle disagreements down the road and should put it all in writing.

In any case, you two may want to agree ahead of time that you'll review the photos together right after the shoot and delete any that you would be truly uncomfortable with people seeing -- this would be a totally reasonable thing to ask (I always do it, anyway; I don't want to be responsible for holding on to photos that the model wouldn't be comfortable with me having). Since you're going for artistic rather than erotic effect, any problematic shots would be going on the trash heap anyway, but it's best to agree to this up front rather than discovering too late that he wants to hang on to all the outtakes, even that really unflattering low-angle one with a little too much visible skin in the wrong places.

Absolutely all of this is irrelevant until after he sorts this out with his wife. If you do decide to proceed with this, make certain he settles that with her before you wind up in the middle of a situation. (The fact that he's even discussing this with you before talking it over with her is not a great sign, to be honest.)

We were scheduled to do a preliminary (potentially clothed....maybe partial nudity) shoot today

Given your concerns, I'm going to suggest that you plan on doing your first shoot fully clothed, so you don't look uncomfortable and stressed out in the pictures (unless that's the effect you're going for, of course). And tell him this at the beginning of the shoot so he's not spending the whole time focused on trying to get through what he thinks are the getting-the-model-comfortable shots and into the "real" ones with the nudity.
posted by ook at 8:22 AM on March 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Ook, I can't tell you how grateful I am for your informative, clear and patient answer.
thanks for the mom test idea.

Grither, point taken. Thank you for stating it plainly. I need a reality check here. And from Ook, too.

JJ86, Thorzdad, seanmpuckett, and imjustsaying, I really appreciate the education. As I said, first timer here, and this is exactly what I was asking for. Thank you.

londongeezer, thank you for the artist's perspective. really helpful.

Update: I cancelled today, rescheduled for another day mostly to give me time to sort out my feelings and thoughts and to give him time to sort out his concerns regarding the wifey's comfort level. If he's not comfortable and hasn't got that sorted out (as you mentioned, Ook), he's not going to be comfortable filming me. I've definitely sensed this discomfort, and it's important to not contribute to a problem there....

I'm pretty comfortable with the partial nudity idea....have given it thought for a while now. I think what I'm not comfortable with yet is my ability to clarify my wishes and limitations and preferences to him. He's given me the "ah, don't worry about it!" reassurances, but I'm not certain if that means, "hey, don't be all prudish -- relax and get naked!" or if that means "don't worry, I will respect your comfort level completely and if you don't want to expose any skin, that's cool."

THAT is where I'm not comfortable.

I have some of my own irrational fears. I do not want to let irrational fears (me just needing to be brave) hold me back from doing something I want to do. I need to get clarification and adjust as needed, rather than just dropping the idea ,because its something I've wanted to do for a while now. Rational fears, however, I need to heed. There's a mix of fears hear, but y'all are helping me sort them out and face them or heed them. THANKS. I'll take any other suggestions.
posted by sleeping beauty at 9:56 AM on March 31, 2011

Best answer: As a photographer who has posed nude for other people (mostly art school friends) as well as for my own sometimes nude photo shoots, it might be worth it to look into doing self-portraits. That way you can do exactly what you are comfortable with and know for certain that you have full rights over the images. If you have a decent digital camera, this will be fairly easy. If you want some pointers on how to get started on it, there are a bunch of helpful websites out there and you are more than welcome to memail me with questions. I love discussing photography and helping people out with their projects.

My own two cents. I would be very uncomfortable posing partially nude in a shoot when the photographer was A: not a professional or a student and B: had not gotten full permission from his wife. To me those two things are huge red flags and scare the bejeesus out of me. To keep in perspective, I have nude photos of me on my website, so I am not someone who is concerned about the general public seeing nude photos of myself.
posted by ruhroh at 10:33 AM on March 31, 2011

Best answer: I think what I'm not comfortable with yet is my ability to clarify my wishes and limitations and preferences to him.

Yeah! I think this is a necessity, whether you're clothed or nude or in the next building over: if you're not working together you're not making the art.
posted by ook at 12:42 PM on March 31, 2011

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