If you think working with a nude model can get uncomfortable — you’re absolutely right. On the other hand, if you’re thinking of modeling yourself, remember that you’re in control. The model needs to feel comfortable, or they’re not in a safe work environment. So let’s look at some dos and don’ts of working with naked models.
Do: Communicate Upfront Whether or Not the Model Will Pose Nude
In the world of art, being upfront means a lot. That’s especially the case when you’re working with models. These people offer their bodies for you to paint, draw, or take pictures of, but it’s all consensual. Sadly, many artists will try to take advantage of this.
Once you book a model and invite them over, you should go over everything that will be happening. If you want them to be nude, you need to let them know beforehand. Why? They need to have the time to think it over. Surprising them with the nudity request in the middle of a session is never a good idea. Not only does it give you a bad look and reputation, but it can leave your model shocked and traumatized.
Don’t: Touch the Models
Being nude might be uncomfortable for some, but these models are used to it and don’t mind it. However, that’s as long as the artist respects their boundaries. Don’t make the situation awkward — do not touch your model! Many artists think it’s okay to touch their nude models to move their body parts or face to a different angle. There’s a better approach to this.
Instead of touching your model abruptly and without consent, try using words. If you don’t think you can do a good job like that, demonstrate with your own body. There are plenty of things you can do to show your model what you want from them. Touching them is definitely not one of those things.
Some think that the only time it’s acceptable to touch a model is for educational purposes. Even then, ask the model beforehand.
Do: Put the Model’s Comfort Before the Artist’s Interest
In settings that include nude models, it’s not the artist that’s in charge. That’s right — the model has every right to set the scene to their liking. If they feel comfortable only with the artist in the room, you should make it possible. Everything should cater to the model and their comfort.
It might be faster and more convenient for the artist if the model just undresses on set. However, they should be given some privacy. They usually have their own room to undress in. Once they’re on set, heaters should be put into place because the model will be static. This can result in them being cold, which can jeopardize their health and well-being.
In situations like these, it’s much more important to listen to what the model wants and is comfortable with. That way, your pictures/paintings will turn out much better.
Don’t: Ignore Red Flags
This one applies to models mostly, but artists should take notes as well. If you, as a model, are uncomfortable at any point, you should be vocal about it. Holding it in will be bad for both. It’s easy to think people will get mad at you for inconveniencing them. In fact, that’s a natural reaction for many. However, people who care about your well-being will hear you out each and every time.
On the other hand, a red flag can be if the artist is forcing you to hold a position that you’re physically unable to. You definitely shouldn’t sit back and take it. Plus, requests from students and random photographs should be off the table as well. Ensure that the artists you’re working with know your boundaries and that you won’t tolerate them being overstepped.
Do: Decide What Environment Is Most Comfortable For You
Standing completely nude in a studio can sometimes get awkward. Luckily, you get to control the environment! Most of the time, students won’t be allowed to communicate with the model. This results in the room being completely silent. Being in a dead silent room with people staring at your body can get uncomfortable, even when it’s for artistic purposes.
Instead, you can try to communicate with artists or other models. Creating a chill vibe can help everyone loosen up a bit. Not only that, but everyone is guaranteed to have much more fun than they would in silence. Still, communicate this to the person in charge as well. Ask them if it’s okay to set this kind of mood.
Don’t: Bring Your Cell Phone
People often make the mistake of thinking that consent is all-encompassing. If the model gives consent to be photographed, that must mean you can snap a picture or two with your phone, right? Absolutely not! Having their picture taken for professional reasons is completely different than you taking a picture for personal reasons.
People in charge always remind their students that cellphones are strictly forbidden. However, should they try to sneak a picture and the model spots them, they have every right to immediately stop what they’re doing. People’s consent is not something you should play around with.
What’s important to note here is that models need to voice any concerns they have. This will prevent them from feeling uncomfortable and other people from overstepping their boundaries. Consent is the most important thing that a model can give, so it’s important to never abuse it.