I've been having a blast this summer shooting nude models outdoors in public. It's not as hard as it sounds. And it's not like I had a bunch of girls begging me to shoot them nekkid around town. It's just something I decided I wanted to do so I set about to do it. Here's what I've learned so far.
FINDING LOCATIONS. The first step is to find locaitons. This will take some time and legwork. You should start with a place you're familiar with like your hometown. Spend some time just walking around public parks with your camera. My hometown probably has a dozen parks. Some are more popular than others. Go to the least popular parks and scout 'em out. Old cemeteries are also good potential locations. Many are seldom visited but are open to the public. Look for railroad tracks. They're often out of general view and easily accessible and they make great backdrops for a nude shoot.
Open your mind to possibilites in your area. Look for places that are accessible but have few visitors. Then scout them out. Spend an hour or so just walking around with a camera. Take test shots. Notice where the access points are. What sort of people visit? cops? couples with children? Avoid those. Backpacking hippies? No problem.
FINDING MODELS. Don't be a cheesball with a camera approaching coeds at the local comminity college to get nekkid in front of your camera. Look for women who want to take their clothes off for you. Where? Modelmayhem.com, that's where. It's like myspace for models and photographers. Create a profile. Do a search for models in your area. Before sending a friend request leave a picture comment. "Nice eyes" or "great concept" are almost always appropriate. Wait a few days to see how many friends you get. Then message your new friends asking if they'd like to shoot sometime.
All nude models will want to be paid. Around my area the going rate is fifty to one hundred dollars per hour.
THE SHOOT. Nearly all nude models will want to bring a boyfriend or male chaperone to the shoot with them. This is a good thing and should be encouraged. When shooting in public you will need a good lookout. Welcome the male friend with open arms and make him part of the team.
When you arrive at a location you should outline your concept for the model and point out potential access points and visibility vulnerabilities to her friend. Ask her if she's comfortable. The model can always veto any given location in which case you simply move on to the next one. Don't argue or whine. If she's not comfortable the pictures will suck anyway.
The model will expect you as the photographer to know what you want and tell her what to do. One of the most common complaints voiced by models is arrivng at a shoot only to have the photographer ask her what she wants to do. Take charge. Be decisive. If you suffer a brainfart just give her any direction at all: "Go stand by that tree. OK now do a quater turn clockwise. Good. Hands above your head. Great. Now down by your sides." You'll develop a natural rhythm and the ideas will start to flow once you're into it.
AFTER THE SHOOT. Return to your meet location where you will have the model sign a release form and then you will pay her. That's the order of how things work: meet up at a prearranged location; do the shoot; she signs a release; you pay her cash.
If the model wants copies of her pictures you should do your best to provide them as quickly as you can in the format she wants. I post all my stuff on deviantart.com and models can simply right-click on the full size picture and save a web-appropriate copy that way. One model was having trouble with her internet and asked for a CD so I burned one and mailed it to her ASAP.
If you prefer to work with film like me bring a digital camera too and take two sets of each pose, one digital and one film. Models want their pictures immediately and providing a set of digitals will placate them while you develop and scan your film.
LEGAL ISSUES. The two legal issues you'll have to deal with are public nudity and tespassing. Our public nudity statues in Virginia define "public" pretty broadly to include any area visible to passersby such that one could be convicted of public nudity standing on her own front porch. In reality you're not likely to have a problem if you do your homework beforehand and scout your locations properly and have a good lookout. While you'll probably have to do some trespassing on private property (like railroad tracks or abandoned buildings) most cops won't arrest you unless you refuse to leave if told to do so.
Make no mistake. There are legal risks involved in doing nude shoots in public. Think of it as a challenge. It's part of the adventure.
ALWAYS CREDIT THE MODEL. If you're posting your work online make sure you always credit the model with a reference to her model mayhem number or link to her modelmayhem page. If they like your work they will do likewise.
I post all my work online at legalizeeverything.deviantart.com. Deviant art is an awesome site and permits posting full frontal nudity. Their only limits are no erections and no penetration. You can browse the work of others and get ideas for new concepts and feedback on work you've submitted.
WHY BOTHER? It's all about freedom. I consider my nude work to be an expression of personal liberty. It's also a fun challenge and something most people have no clue how to do. But it can be done. Anywhere. If I can do it in sleeply conservative little Richmond, Virginia then you can do it in your hometown, too.
Do it now. There's no time like the present. We live in a society obsessed with security to the point of paranoia. Refuse to succumb. Be free. Make a statement.