Questions about shooting nudes outdoors

Question: I really appreciate your approach to displaying the figure and how you take the time to explain why a composition works. I look forward to your future VLOGS and I'm sure I will be able to grow as I've just started my own journey into digital photography. I am curious about how you arrange certain outdoor shoots. Do you have to get permits, or is it a matter of learning/knowing the area and having help to look out for you and your model?

My Answer: Thank you so much for your question. My blog is changing back to the way it was in 2009. I have deleted all those old posts but I thought it was important for you to know. I will be breaking down the elements of composition in my photos week by week. It will take a while for me to build up a good amount of posts but I hope you will keep reading and enjoy them.

As for shooting outdoors, you really need to check your local laws. I’m not in a position to give you any advice regarding the legality of working with models nude outdoors. We live in south Texas and as long as you are not causing mayhem it is allowed as far as I know. Now the problem comes in with what is defined as mayhem. Depending on the officer or the judge you go before things could change drastically. Shannon and I have been caught once and it is a funny story we share from time to time.

We were working at an abandoned foundry after a studio shoot and were almost done. Shannon loves sunflowers and wanted to get a picture in a field of them within the property fence. With my back turned to the entrance and looking in the viewfinder to compose the shot things were going wrong without my knowledge. As soon as I pushed the shutter I noticed Shannon’s expression change. I lowered the camera and she was pointing behind me. I turned around to see a Houston police officer approaching. I reached into my back pocket and threw Shannon her shorts and shirt. I started toward the officer with a big grin and extended my hand to greet him. We shook hands and he said we were okay and could continue. I told him I had taken my last shot and we were done. We talked briefly and he said he was only worried about our safety since the property was know for the amount of homeless people that live there. He told us to be very careful when shoot in and around the area. Shannon and I packed up our stuff and started home. We were very near to downtown Houston but the road you have to travel is very hard to see. As we drove out we saw several police cars pass the road, then back up, and drive down to the site. Laughing I told her she would have been the most well guarded model in Houston that day.

This situation could have gone very differently though. The officer could have decided we where causing mayhem by shooting nude outdoors and given us a ticket. Depending on the judge we could have received a hefty fine or even jail time. All this being said know the law and be very careful.

I would recommend you scout around the area very well to insure the model and you will be safe while shooting. Know what animals live in the area and what the risks are if you run into one. Don’t be offensive and be mindful of what is around you. Don’t shoot near a school or church accidently. This I feel would really get you into trouble and is just rude. Don’t shoot in an area where you could cause and accident. We have all seen cool photos of models on overpasses. You really need to be careful with this since you could cause and accident by distracting the people below you driving at freeway speeds. Lookouts are great and there is safety in numbers. Make sure you explain what you are intending to accomplish by having a lookout to your model. Always invite your model to bring an escort even if the shoot is indoors. A red flag goes up as soon as you tell a model no escorts. Never bring your inappropriate buddy as a lookout. For one, they don’t make good lookouts and also the model will not appreciate it. Don't be surprised your model goes and tell all of their friends you’re a creep.

In closing I found a really good site regarding this a few years ago. You can read more about public nudity by going to http://www.munknee.com/going-topless-is-legal-in-these-u-s-states-canadian-provinces/. I am not a legal expert so please consult a qualified person in your area for questions regarding the laws that could impact you.

Thanks and hope you come back for the next post,

JW Purdy