I’ve been asked the question, “What’s the minimum age when models can pose totally nude?” — I have been hesitant to respond casually to this for a number of reasons. First, it’s a question of legality and I am not an attorney so you should not consider what I write to be legal advice. Second, it is a question that sparks the imagination and some people… well, let’s just hope they don’t go there.
The myth is that one must be age 18 to pose for a nude photo.
That is probably the simplest answer but it is not entirely correct… In the United States, the age of majority is 18 in most states, but it is 19 in some places such as Alabama, Nebraska, and Delaware. I’ve heard that in Arkansas you are not of majority until you are both 18 and graduate high school. I’m not sure what that means for people who never graduate, but it illustrates that the answer is not straight forward. Nevada, Ohio, Tennessee, and Utah have similar laws, stating that the age of majority is 18 unless you’re still in high school. But they cap the race at age 19. In Mississippi the age of majority is 21.
One can reasonably feel safe photographing and publishing nude photographs of someone in the United States who is at least 18 and the age of majority in their state. With your model not being a minor, you can also have them sign a model release.
In some places like American Samoa and Puerto Rico the age of majority is 14. I’ve also read that in Utah, you reach the age of majority before 18 if you graduate high school. I’m not sure what that means for photography, but I would not recommend photographing nudes of anyone under 18.
Above, I mentioned photographing and publishing nudes of someone who is 18 and the age of majority. There is actually nothing automatically illegal about nude photographs of minors. Think of images you have seen of babies, medical images, family photos, and the like. But for the type of images that you see on this web site, it is best to play it safe. Remember that 18 is not always the minimum. Check the laws in your area and, if in doubt, consult a legal expert.