Forums > Photography Talk > Outdoor Nude Photography

Photographer

NjKolby

Posts: 221

San Mateo, California, US

Hey everyone. I just did my first model/nude shoot Sunday the 22nd and I am thinking to really expand in my photography (and portfolio) I should do, or be able to, do shoots outdoors. My question is, do I need permission to shoot nudes outdoors in a park or other "public" setting (ex. beach)? If not, how do I go about it?

Mar 29 09 03:21 pm Link

Photographer

T-D-L

Posts: 10303

Los Angeles, California, US

If it's public I think you may not be allowed to do it.  Indecent exposure and such.  You can try it though, if you're sneaky and quick.  I've done implieds in areas where there was a bit of traffic, but off to the side and more or less out of the way of prying eyes.  I would avoid public places where children are going to be (parks for example), unless you are really out looking for trouble.

Mar 29 09 03:30 pm Link

Photographer

CSD Studios

Posts: 541

Melbourne, Florida, US

Tyrone is correct. The big deal is staying away from public areas. Especially ones that could have children. It seems to be more acceptable to have mild female nudity in public places than it is fore male nudity. May not be right... but thats the way it is. Best option, find a friend that has a decent size piece of property and setup your shoot there. Anything else you are taking a chance.

Mar 29 09 03:58 pm Link

Photographer

Richard Tallent

Posts: 7092

Beaumont, Texas, US

Unless you shoot on private property, it's unlikely that you'll ever obtain "permission" to shoot nudes in public places.

Clothing-optional beaches are possible to shoot with impunity, but respect the locals. They aren't there (usually) to model. Be deliberate about keeping your lens and your set out of their way. And you're bound to run across some pervs--it's their beach too and you can't tell them to leave, so make sure the model knows you can pack up anytime if it's an issue for them.

Here are some basic rules to shooting outdoor nudes in non-nude-friendly public places:

- It's much easier to get forgiveness than permission.
- If no one sees you, it didn't happen. Move fast.
- If you see someone, they saw you. Move along.
- Be confident. Sneaking around is at least as noticeable as the nudity.
- If you have a run-in with the po-po, be nice, be apologetic, and obey orders. Shoot on multiple cards just in case a cop on a power trip tells you to format the card. (No, they can't make you do it legally, but if they think they got away with it and you don't get a ticket, that's better than being the next poster child of a Photography and the Law blog, or ending up on a sex offender registry.)
- Have some believable wardrobe so no one sticks around when they see a model in a robe and a guy with a big camera looking around waiting for traffic to clear.
- Having a permit probably won't get you out of hot water, but not having one could land you in more. Permit applications don't generally ask about wardrobe. wink

Mar 29 09 04:02 pm Link

Photographer

Jon Ebling

Posts: 617

Cave Junction, Oregon, US

With all the foreclosed country property around here I'm really looking forward to spring outdoor shooting. This area is swamped with isolated empty homes far from distractions (like police) and I'll bet a photographer and model could simply "borrow" outdoor locations everywhere.

I'd say in about another month I'll know how that goes, it's not like some realtor will be wandering around, no one's looking at these places.

Mar 29 09 04:05 pm Link

Photographer

NjKolby

Posts: 221

San Mateo, California, US

Cool, cool. So it seems like the general consensus on outdoor nude photography is: do it on private property of someone you know or do it in public and be fast. Thanks for tips guys.

Mar 29 09 04:08 pm Link

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Photographer

K E S L E R

Posts: 11574

Los Angeles, California, US

RBD Photo wrote:
Hey everyone. I just did my first model/nude shoot Sunday the 22nd and I am thinking to really expand in my photography (and portfolio) I should do, or be able to, do shoots outdoors. My question is, do I need permission to shoot nudes outdoors in a park or other "public" setting (ex. beach)? If not, how do I go about it?

Permission?  Yea its illegal, doubt you can get a permit.  Have to do it gangsta style and just hit and run.

Mar 29 09 04:09 pm Link

Photographer

Bill Clearlake Photos

Posts: 2214

San Jose, California, US

Know your local laws regarding public nudity.  It varies widely from: allowable, a ticket and small fine, a ticket and huge fine, a misdemeanor, a felony.

Assess your risk accordingly.

Mar 29 09 04:14 pm Link

Photographer

Christian Nyback

Posts: 987

West Palm Beach, Florida, US

I shoot a lot in parks, on boardwalks, paths, etc... I try to use dead end one's so you only have to worry about one direction.  I always have the model wear a one piece sarong/wraparound that is quick to put back on (which I usually have hanging out of my pocket for quick tossing).  If you want to go a step further - find a dead end path/boardwalk, bring some caution tape and "close" the last few hundred feet of the path for a few minutes!  Works on most people, unless it's Ranger Rick!
Oh, early in the AM works best, before the busloads show up. Plus lighting is better anyway...

Mar 29 09 04:15 pm Link

Photographer

BR Photography

Posts: 149

Fayetteville, Arkansas, US

I've often wondered about the outdoor nude shots I've seen. If it is in a public place, isn't the photo itself proof of illegal activity. You may not be caught at the time of the shoot, but can the photos be used against you?

Mar 29 09 04:18 pm Link

Photographer

utako omori

Posts: 268

Montreal, Quebec, Canada

BR Photography wrote:
isn't the photo itself proof of illegal activity. You may not be caught at the time of the shoot, but can the photos be used against you?

your honour, i woke up one morning and found a compact flash card under my pillow. Must have been the nude pic fairy that took the photos and even went so far as to transfer copyright to my name as well.

CASE DISMISSED!

but seriously, only time photos can be used against you if it's a famous landmark or building in the background, they will try to come after you.. Usually they don't bother since non commercial use pics arn't worth the effort (after initial cease and desist)

Mar 29 09 04:40 pm Link

Photographer

Richard Tallent

Posts: 7092

Beaumont, Texas, US

Christian Nyback wrote:
bring some caution tape and "close" the last few hundred feet of the path for a few minutes!

lol... now there's a novel use for caution tape at a photo shoot!

Mar 29 09 04:57 pm Link

Photographer

Nor-Cal Photography

Posts: 2695

Walnut Creek, California, US

Christian Nyback wrote:
Works on most people, unless it's Ranger Rick!

So you are the guy that Ranger Rick has been looking for! Watch out! He just found out and is heading your way!

Mar 29 09 05:32 pm Link

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Photographer

GPS Studio Services

Posts: 36296

San Francisco, California, US

Haha, I can see that most of you aren't from Nor. Cal.  I have shoot nudes, out in the open, in Union Square with a police officer looking on and never got a second look.  The OP is from Nor. Cal.

The City of San Francisco will give you a permit to shoot almost everywhere on city property, but if you are just doing an individual shoot, they probably won't say much.  They are very supportive of the arts.  If you go to Baker Beach, a nude beach, you will find it to be a popular place for photography.

You will often get away with shooting nudes in quite public places so long as you use some discretion.  I would stay away from kids and schools.  I would also be ready to move on if anyone complained.

The state of California has no law banning public nudity.  We merely have a law that bans lewd conduct.  Many cities, on the other hand, have ordinances banning public nudity.  Los Angeles, for example, does, San Francisco merely has a lewd conduct ordinance of its own.

As an example, we have the naked bike races up here, the Folsom Street Festival and the Bare to Breakers adjunct to the Bay to Breakers race.

Bottom line, if you want to shoot outdoors up in the Bay, you should have no problems finding the opportunity to do it so long as you are discreet.  You can get a permit so long as you are prepared to pay for it.

Mar 29 09 05:39 pm Link

Photographer

Brooklyn Bridge Images

Posts: 9767

Brooklyn, New York, US

Award winning Gary Breckheimer seems to have a knack for getting away with it
http://nudeartworld.blogspot.com/2008/1 … 9db735fe5a

Mar 29 09 06:17 pm Link

Photographer

San Francisco Nudes

Posts: 2910

San Leandro, California, US

ei Total Productions wrote:
If you go to Baker Beach, a nude beach, you will find it to be a popular place for photography.

That's actually a good example of why you have to be a bit careful even in the bay area - Baker Beach is part of the golden gate national recreation area, and a lot of the land around there and on the Marin side is subject to federal park rules.  They allow nudity at Baker Beach largely for historic reasons, but you shouldn't assume that just because they allow it there and just because you are within what most people call San Francisco that it's OK.  You may be talking to a federal guy and they have their own agenda.

Likewise in the east bay the east bay regional park district parks have an anti-nudity ordinance even if the surrounding town doesn't.  No lewd clause either.  It's right above no flying a kite with a line over 400 feet so I don't know how seriously they take it but you're probably safer in some of the local urban areas than you are in the parks.

Mar 29 09 07:08 pm Link

Photographer

Christian Nyback

Posts: 987

West Palm Beach, Florida, US

Nor-Cal Photography wrote:

So you are the guy that Ranger Rick has been looking for! Watch out! He just found out and is heading your way!

Hehe, I'm too fast for Rick!

Mar 29 09 07:12 pm Link

Photographer

Christian Nyback

Posts: 987

West Palm Beach, Florida, US

Richard Tallent wrote:

lol... now there's a novel use for caution tape at a photo shoot!

It's the only use for caution tape - unless you're a construction worker!

Mar 29 09 07:13 pm Link

Photographer

Gregory Prescott Photo

Posts: 1067

Brooklyn, New York, US

You only need permission when you're planning on getting caught.

Mar 29 09 07:17 pm Link

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Photographer

GPS Studio Services

Posts: 36296

San Francisco, California, US

ei Total Productions wrote:
If you go to Baker Beach, a nude beach, you will find it to be a popular place for photography.

Doug Wade wrote:
That's actually a good example of why you have to be a bit careful even in the bay area - Baker Beach is part of the golden gate national recreation area, and a lot of the land around there and on the Marin side is subject to federal park rules.  They allow nudity at Baker Beach largely for historic reasons, but you shouldn't assume that just because they allow it there and just because you are within what most people call San Francisco that it's OK.  You may be talking to a federal guy and they have their own agenda.

I think you need to read the federal regulations.  The parks service has no regulations regarding nudity.  They defer to local law.  It is a published federal policy. 

That, for example, is why the portion of Black's Beach in San Diego County allows nudity even though it is a Federal park.  The County of San Diego has no public nudity ordinance, therefore the Federal Park Service can't cite you.  The same is true for San Onofre.  That is also why I was able to have a nude workshop on the beach north of Cape Canaveral in Florida.  The county there had no public nudity ordinance.  Indeed, when I told the ranger that we planned on shooting nude, I was told not to even include that on the application.  It was a non-issue.

A federal ranger lacks the authority to cite you for anything with respect to nudity since the City of San Francisco has no public nudity ordinance, unless the conduct is also lewd.

There are issues, however, in terms of permits and commercial photography.  Nudity, however, is not an issue in any Federal park.

Doug Wade wrote:
Likewise in the east bay the east bay regional park district parks have an anti-nudity ordinance even if the surrounding town doesn't.  No lewd clause either.  It's right above no flying a kite with a line over 400 feet so I don't know how seriously they take it but you're probably safer in some of the local urban areas than you are in the parks.

I didn't suggest shooting in an East Bay Park.  Parks don't have ordinances, parks have regulations.  Some parks do, indeed, have regulations prohibiting nudity.  It happens that state parks are bound by the Cahill policy, which is another matter.

My post, however, dealt only with the City of San Francisco.  The city, is quite liberal, in that regard in terms of photography and art.

Mar 29 09 07:22 pm Link

Photographer

Lost Coast Photo

Posts: 2674

Ferndale, California, US

Well, you're lucky...being in in the Bay Area, for that matter in much of coastal California, people are a whole lot less likely to freak out over a little nudity.  Anyone who hasn't seen folks naked around here hasn't been paying attention... whether it's skinny dipping at the river bar, or a surfer changing in a parking lot.

That doesn't mean you can abandon common sense, but if you pick your locations carefully (meaning either avoid high-traffic areas, or shoot quickly), there shouldn't be too much of a problem.  It's still best to respect others, after all they aren't expecting to stumble on a naked model.

There was a model in your general neighborhood a while back (Persis) who had researched every county and municipal code in the south bay and posted the info on her website, but that was something like four years ago.  I do remember that she had identified a number of places where there was no explicit ban on nudity, including several beaches, but that the regs varied a lot from place to place.  I shot with her in a silicon valley suburban park with no issues. 

In fact I probably do half a dozen outdoor nude shots in the Bay Area every year with various models, but most of those are north bay or east bay, and in lightly traveled places.  We shot nudes for more than two hours last week, and while we heard people not far away on trails, we never saw anyone.

What Richard said above about confidence... he's right, it does matter.  You'll often pass people on the way in or out of a location who will see the gear and will guess what you're doing, but if you're sure of yourself (and of course, a civilized "hi" never hurts), they'll rarely bother you.

Also, keep your peripheral vision and your ears turned on... usually I hear or see people approaching before the model does, and usually I'm aware of them long before they see us... which is exactly the way you want it to be.

Mar 29 09 07:37 pm Link

Photographer

NjKolby

Posts: 221

San Mateo, California, US

Thanks everyone. All your input on the matter is very much appreciated and will be put to good use and hopefully even better pictures when the time comes to venture out into Mother Nature.

Mar 29 09 07:43 pm Link

Photographer

Richard Tallent

Posts: 7092

Beaumont, Texas, US

ei Total Productions wrote:
if you want to shoot outdoors up in the Bay, you should have no problems finding the opportunity to do it so long as you are discreet.

One of the many reasons I'm *really* looking forward to my trip up there in a few weeks!

Now, can someone up there just turn up the thermostat a little? Looks a little chilly.

Mar 29 09 10:23 pm Link

Photographer

R Michael Walker

Posts: 11986

Costa Mesa, California, US

RBD Photo wrote:
Hey everyone. I just did my first model/nude shoot Sunday the 22nd and I am thinking to really expand in my photography (and portfolio) I should do, or be able to, do shoots outdoors. My question is, do I need permission to shoot nudes outdoors in a park or other "public" setting (ex. beach)? If not, how do I go about it?

Hard enough and costly enough to get a permit to shoot clothed shots in public venues...for started do you have the $2 million dollar insurance policy needed? This is on top of fees and off duty cops, lifeguards and rangers. Now add nudity and most places will say no. So how do you do it? Maybe drive far out into nature land where no one will see? Maybe use friends private property? Lots of "alternatives".

Jon Ebling wrote:
With all the foreclosed country property around here I'm really looking forward to spring outdoor shooting. This area is swamped with isolated empty homes far from distractions (like police) and I'll bet a photographer and model could simply "borrow" outdoor locations everywhere.

I'd say in about another month I'll know how that goes, it's not like some realtor will be wandering around, no one's looking at these places.

Sounds like Criminal trespass in the making. I know one model who was arrested, charged and convicted for shooting in an abandoned farmhouse in the middle of no where. How would you like your first strike to be felony trespass? Just hope you don't get the prosecutor with something to prove.

Mar 29 09 10:34 pm Link

Photographer

stxphotogrphy

Posts: 153

Corpus Christi, Texas, US

I am lucky because I have or had (before hurricane Ike) a Pretty nice stretch of nude beach that was not very easy to access without  a 4wheel drive vehicle. I have shot there on several locations and haven't had any trouble other than a few rubber rubberneckers wanting to see what was  going on and one guy asking if he could snap pictures with his cell phone. when my model explained that she was a school teacher didn't really want her students to come across the pictures. He politley moved on.

Apr 01 09 02:56 pm Link

Photographer

portraitierre

Posts: 1

Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

I would suggest going nude as the photographer.  If there is a nude photographer and model, it's a spectacle rather than an illegality.  People will laugh at the ridiculousness of a naked old photographer photographing a beautiful young fresh model. 

Give it a go)

Dec 14 11 07:51 pm Link

Photographer

Nor-Cal Photography

Posts: 2695

Walnut Creek, California, US

portraitierre wrote:
I would suggest going nude as the photographer.  If there is a nude photographer and model, it's a spectacle rather than an illegality.  People will laugh at the ridiculousness of a naked old photographer photographing a beautiful young fresh model. 

Give it a go)

What?!!  This thread died almost 3 years ago!

Dec 14 11 10:27 pm Link