What’s the Minimum Age When Models Can Pose Nude?

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 hear 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.


Nude models should be over age 18

About A. K. Nicholas

A. K. Nicholas is an American photographer with a passion for collaborating with models and sharing knowledge. His vision is colored by being raised abroad and traveling to dozens of countries, including museum visits and other cultural experiences. In the Middle East, he observed how women's bodies were hidden from public view; in most of Europe, there was little prudishness. In his youth, he put in his dues clerking and staffing the darkroom of a camera store. His background includes an art degree, a long stint as a freelance artist, and a career as a professional photographer. His first camera was hand-made from an oatmeal box for a middle-school project. His first nude shoot was a complete surprise to him when a classmate in college assumed that his invitation to model meant for her to be nude. In the decades since then, he has photographed hundreds of nude models for publication in books, articles, as framed prints, product advertisements, stock agencies, and gallery exhibits. His exhibit work consists mainly of photomontage, sometimes printed life-sized. These days, when he picks up a camera, it is to fulfill a personal calling and not the agenda of a client. He is happiest when working on creative projects and devotes as much time as possible to new ideas. His second favorite thing is helping others further their artistic endeavors. He writes to help you learn from his experience, including how to avoid some common mistakes and to encourage your creativity.

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