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Is it legal to shoot under age models?...

JackCutler - Photographer
Pennsylvania, United States
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Allow me to jump in here. My lab DCC Photo ( shameless plug ) specializes in Glamour, Legal and Medical images. First, the issue at a “Wally’s Import Emporium” or other discount/chain operations is not so much the age as the nudity. My technicians are well aware of the images we may receive and have no problem printing them. The Emporium’s or chain’s people may not be, and if just one operator is offended BIG problem. They can claim unsolicited porn.

Some labs have reported a baby on the bearskin rug picture as porn. This is extreme, and after 20 years as a lab owner & 30 + as a photographer I can spot kiddie porn on the negs.
Read go to jail, do not pass Go, get married to the thug with the most cigarettes. PERIOD!

I digress sorry. Here is the easy rule to follow. No subjects under 18 in any images that show genitalia, or in any sexually suggestive poses. I do not know how the “teen modeling sites pull it off . Personally I think they should be called Yo Mamma’s a but that’s my opinion.

The draped shot of the expectant mother would pass our criteria.

To be safe keep all models at least 18 yrs. of age. Even with the parents consent. I’ve run into some star-struck stage mothers that will do any thing. Fortunately I’ve met more with the wisdom of Solomon.

Hope this helps.
Jack Cutler

Posted at 09:15 AM on May 18, 2005

CJSouthBeach - Photographer
Florida, United States
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Well... the " Boogy Man " has struck again. I've not read such fear from a group in a long, long, time.

Of course you can photograph people under 18. I would be out of business if it were illegal, as most agency new faces are under 18. Don't be so paranoid by it. If you're not photographing sex acts, it's likely that no one would care... at all. If you're worried, send the film down here.... South Beach Miami. Fleshtone Miami or District Lab. Keep in mind that a ton of European editorials are shot here... and in those, clothing is optional for all girls ( the models in Euro Magazines vary between 12-25 years old ). We've had things pop out or blow up from time to time... nobody thinks anything of it. If you shoot it trying to be sexy or try to shoot the door the baby comes through... you might be frowned upon, but unlikely reported.

Jock Sturges cleared the path that had only been parted by things like Kate Moss's images ( her topless cover at 14 years old ) and those of Brooke Shields. Jock's work got him arrested upon touch down at JFK by the FBI. He was later cleared entirely.... and his books still reign as absolute controversy ( on the plus side... the controversy made him a millionaire ).

Shoot what you're going to shoot. If you're worried about the place you are, freaking out... send it to South Beach or NYC. Relax.


Posted at 10:10 AM on May 18, 2005

testshootcom - Photographer
California, United States
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Quote HB: "In Illinois? I'm sure someone will get arrested. Best to get a digital camera and hope nobody finds the images." Spoken like a true pervert... lol.

That is why I have another hatred for digi guys, the covert operations of, "only I know what shots I took so I can't get caught" [insert evil laugh]

Don't be a fool and think anyone in here has sound legal advice. Never trust opinion, just look it up on your Ill. State Law books, plenty of resources online, since they have to make the law public record. Ignorance of the law is no defence, neither is "Bob said it was legal" and passing the blame.

Posted at 07:20 PM on May 18, 2005

JackCutler - Photographer
Pennsylvania, United States
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Paul summed it up partialy.

It depend's on what they are wearing but it also depends on what they are doing.

Even in the hair business when I shoot any underage model WILL, no exception made, have a parent or legal guardian with them at a session and that includes the time they are being photographed.

This is a rule that the corporations follow and insist on.

EZ RULE Under 18... no nudes, glamour, lingerie or suggestive images. I do not care who posed how or when. Just because a super model or celeb got away with it dosen't mean the average schmuck will. They get lot's of press and adoration, we get a vacation with Bubba.

Just one mans opinion.

Jack Cutler

Posted at 08:29 AM on May 20, 2005

McGowanPhoto - Photographer
Arizona, United States
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There are fairly clear rules about shooting underage models for commercial gain. The fashion folks (like Christian) have followed the proper path for so long that it's simple and easy for them to do the right thing.

In other states than those where fashion is regularly shot, there's an element of paranoia involved because the law enforcement people simply don't understand. They equate every image with some sort of child porn scam. They want to know why an older guy is interested in shooting this young kid.

While I've never had the pleasure of being investigated, I've seen the results of some investigations. There was a spectacular case in Virginia where an artist shot pictures of her young children to use as cherubs and angels in her paintings. The kids were nude or nearly nude in the photos. She was turned in by a lab tech, and lost her kids for awhile, spent some time in jail and ultimately was cleared. But the process was painful.

So, both sides of this argument are rooted in truth. Legal or not, shooting nude, seminude or even glamorous shots of youngsters can get the attention of law enforcement.

If you're shooting under some corporate wing (agency, advertisement, etc.), you'll have lots of legal protection, because all the i's will be dotted and the t's crossed beforehand.

If you're shooting something that looks like fashion in, say, Iowa or Ohio or Virginia with underage models, you just need to make sure you do the same thing. Get all the paperwork done ahead of time, and wave it in any questioner's face.

I've taken to providing a copy of releases to printers when I send in anything even remotely eyebrow-raising involving ANY model. It's amazing how it calms their nerves.

The vast majority of false accusations I've heard of, through contacts with law enforcement folks, come from nervous photo labs. Nearly always, the cops go look and say "that's OK." But the way laws are written in some states, the labs are under pressure to report anything suspicious. That "make a list" comment earlier is dead-on for how the gendarmes treat this stuff.

For anybody doing legitimate work — fashion, art, whatever — the population from birth to 17 is not off limits. But there are limits. Just as the law limits the number of hours a child can work, it also limits the kinds of jobs children can have.

So, ultimately it's up to a photographer to find out the regulations in his/her own state (or the state where a shoot is going to take place). Follow the rules, and you'll be OK.

When choosing a photo lab, grill the owner about his policy about reporting or "making a list" of people who shoot underage models. The more professional labs understand the business and accommodate photographers. They know the difference between legitimate photos and child abuse in any form.

As with a bunch of other issues, this one has the "it depends" answer. If you do things right, you can shoot anybody. If you are even tip-toeing the line for making illegal images, you can be in trouble no matter whom you shoot.

Posted at 08:44 AM on May 20, 2005

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