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Etiquette: Nudity on Set


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BY Jon Melamed September 10, 2014 · Published by Resource Magazine

Whether you're behind the camera or working elsewhere on set, creating a comfortable work environment is essential when you have a nude model. Learn how to keep things professional in this article from Resource Magazine.

This article has been contributed from the Fall 2008 issue of Resource Magazine, courtesy of the publisher. To subscribe to the magazine and explore Resource’s online features, visit the Resource Magazine website.






There are few professions that require one to work around gorgeous nude women. Certainly, doctors are among the few who see and touch nude people for a living, but their patients are generally of varying degrees of beauty. A day in the life of a pornographer is probably so over-saturated with nudity that the view of a pair of surgically augmented breasts offers about the same degree of excitement as two cantaloupes do to a food stylist. Then there’s us: the crew on photo shoots. Although we do not work nude shoots every day, they come around once in a while and the models are generally, according to society’s current standards, of an agreeable body shape and size.

If you are of the sexual orientation which finds such a thing titillating, how do you stay focused on set? How does one defy their carnal urges urges which are so deeply engrained in us by our most basic of instincts to reproduce? One thing is certain, whether you are a physician or a member of a photo crew: It is your job and you must remain professional.


Allow the dressing room to become a peep show. For a nude model this may be her only bastion of privacy. Even if it is something as makeshift as a few taped V flats placed in the corner of the studio, it is still her sanctuary and should remain as such. That means only people directly involved with wardrobe should find their way back there.

Scan the unclothed model for imperfections. On the glossy pages of magazines and as the imposingly large images adorning billboards, these women are seemingly flawless creatures. No matter what schadenfreude you get from searching models for blemishes, stretch marks, or superfluous nipples when you see them in the flesh, and before the gentle and generous hand of the retoucher, do not do it! It is obnoxious and makes the models feel uncomfortable.

Offer your employees less pay for a nude shoot with the promise of a free peek. It’s work, not porn, and you should always aim to keep a professional atmosphere.

Hire a green assistant for a nude shoot. Even a shoot involving skimpy underwear can be a dicey foray into the photo industry for a newbie. It is best to wean them slowly, perhaps starting with a swimsuit shoot and working from there.

Forget to keep the model warm in between shots. You don’t want her to resemble a freshly plucked chicken, so keep her warm and avoid unsightly goose bumps.


Avert your lecherous gaze. Okay, take one quick look. Damn, she’s a babe, right? What I wouldn’t do to . . . get back to work right now!

If you can, hire a gay or same-sex assistant. Everybody can appreciate a pretty body, but when you take out the sexual attraction, this allows for a more focused staff who may view the bare model objectively rather than as an object of desire.

Keep boundaries as to how sexually charged a photographer can be in inspiring his subject. Their flirtation is just part of their on-set charisma and often helps to get the model to essentially “make love to the camera.” Just be sure to distinguish what is professional flirting and what is just downright sleazy. To put it simply: some photographers flirt with models while shooting and some flirt by the craft service table.

Reprimand a lecherous assistant. It shows that you are professional and strive to keep your staff in check.

It is paramount to keep the model comfortable. Too often, models are treated as inanimate objects, almost as if they are just another prop. If necessary, imagine yourself as the only one nude on-set, bare buttocks pressed against the cold cyc. Hopefully, this will humble you.

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