The Art of Nude Modeling

To be or not to be… nude.  THAT is the resounding question.  There may come a point in your modeling career, likely very early on, when you are asked to pose nude.  You will likely be told it will be good for your momentum, that you will get more jobs, that you will get paid more etc.  This all may very well be true.  But the only thing that matters is, are you ok with doing this type of work?  Now, when I say this “type” of work, I don’t mean to stigmatize it.  The human body is a beautiful thing.  Whether you agree, there are clear distinctions between smut and art.  But, again, none of that matters if you simply aren’t willing to bare all.

Some might be wondering what types of nude modeling would even be considered art.  At least in America, there is a sort of schizophrenic relationship we have with nudity; it is shunned while, at the same time, rewarded.  It can be very confusing for someone who is trying to make it in the modeling industry.  Perhaps you are comfortable with your body but are afraid of the potential repercussions of showing everyone everything.  Or maybe you strongly feel you don’t want to do it but are being pressured.  If you are part of the former group, these are the types of jobs that may be presented to you, for you to consider.  If you are from the latter group, I have a message for you at the end of this article.

Art Modeling

If you’ve taken a drawing class in college, you may have actually seen this type of model up-close.  The art model is a person who sits or stand, in the buff, while art students draw him or her.  Some teachers require full nudity while others may give the option of being partially clothed (e.g. underwear).

You will be expected to sit still for as long as 30 minutes or more, depending on the class.  If you’ve ever done mannequin modeling, this should be very familiar.  This can be a steady side-job potentially making up to $20/hr (depending on the job, of course).  You may be able to find nude modeling jobs on Craigslist (always be extra careful when going to jobs you’ve booked off of Craigslist!) or by reaching out to colleges, continuing education schools, art schools near you.

Always get all the details before going in for the job (this applies with every modeling job, ever) such as pay rate, how long you will be working, if you will get a break etc.  And, of course, only apply if you feel you have the confidence to do this job.  It would be quite an inconvenience if a teacher had to cancel a class because a model got cold feet at the last minute.

Perhaps the best part about this job is you don’t have to have a “model look” to be considered.  The purpose of this job is to give art students a real human body to use as a model for their drawings.  And real humans come in all shapes and sizes!


As a working fashion model, there may be times you are asked to take this or that off or to put on something sheer.  This may be part of the aesthetic the photographer, brand, or artistic directer is trying to achieve.  These photos can end up on the covers of magazines, on websites, on social media etc.  Sometimes it really is the vision, other times it can very well be someone trying to take advantage of a model.

If posing naked to any capacity is not something that was agreed upon ahead of time and you don’t feel comfortable doing it, simply decline.  No matter what anyone says, you do not, I repeat, you do NOT have to go along with something you don’t want to do.  Never let anyone pressure you into going topless or showing much more skin than you are comfortable with showing.  This happens a lot in the industry (hence the #metoo movement), especially to teenagers and young women and men.  No matter how bad you want it, never go faster than you feel you’re ready to go.

If you are signed with an agency, make sure you set clear boundaries regarding what you’re willing to do.  Even agencies are known to pressure models.  If you feel you are signed with such an agency, it may be time to consider jumping ship and going somewhere else.  Your agency should always have your well-being in mind and if they don’t, they aren’t good for you.


Implied nude modeling is probably the safest “nude” modeling there is, because you’re not actually required to be naked.  As with the models in the photos on this blog post, clothes are worn and cut out of frame to imply that the model is nude.  This type of photo can be taken for various reasons.  For beauty modeling in which models typically show off their faces for skincare products or make up, or are showcasing jewelry, the clothes are cut out of frame to bring the focus onto what is being advertised.  A model can be fully clothed, but appear to be the opposite by wearing a tube top and having the photographer take a close-up photo, for example.


With the rise of the Victoria’s Secret models, lingerie modeling has become more and more sought after.  You would, of course, be taking photos in undergarments and some may cover the parts that wouldn’t be allowed on Instagram, while others may be completely sheer.  Obviously, you must be extremely confident in your skin and, depending on the brand, may need to have a certain look they prefer to showcase in their catalogs and on their website.

When looking for these type of jobs, you may also see the word “Boudoir”.  Depending on the brand, photos may be taken in a studio in front of a blank wall or may be taken in a more realistic setting like near or on a bed or chaise.


Especially if you are a freelance model booking your own gigs, you will likely come across this term quite a bit.  This is more a style of photography used to showcase a model in more of a fantasy role (and I don’t mean fantasy as in dungeons and dragons).  Unless you are comfortable with being photographed in what might be considered “compromising positions,” I’d recommend skipping this type of photo shoot.

Wrapping it Up

Ultimately, no matter how serious you are about your modeling career, you should NEVER put yourself in a compromising situation or willingly go along with something that you know isn’t right.  Don’t worry about the brand, worry about yourself.  You may be told you won’t get hired again if you don’t do it but always remember, you have to live with the decisions you make.  Your mental and emotional health largely affect your quality of life.  No amount of money or promised fame are worth ruining that.  And no matter what anyone tells you, choosing not to pose nude won’t get you blacklisted from every facet of the modeling industry.  If you are talented and have a good look, there will always be people willing to at least consider hiring you.

Even I have experienced being asked to pose nude.  I said no and left it at that.  My no was met with excuses as to why it would be better for me.  But keep in mind, the person who is photographing you doesn’t have to worry about how you will feel at the end of the shoot.  And just to be clear, no matter the circumstance, if anyone EVER takes advantage of you, you did not deserve it.  You are not a bad person and you have every right to speak up.  Don’t EVER feel like you are to blame if you end up in a situation that isn’t ideal and someone decides to use their power against you.

Modeling is a job but it can also be very fun.  Just make sure to always be responsible about your decisions and be very mindful of the people you trust and with whom you surround yourself.  And, hey, if you decide to bare it all, more power to you!


Photo Credit: Lola O Photography

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