Being totally professional, sexual thoughts should be far away from a photographer's mind during photoshoots. But it happens every now and then, either because the model is particularly sexy or because the model herself knows that she is sexy and likes to tease the photographer — which happens only with unprofessional models — and use some unwanted, embarrassing movement in the photographer's underwear to boost her self-esteem.

How do you guys handle these situations? How do you treat the model and situation in these occasions, in order to keep the professionalism and name intact?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Opinion (fairly obviously): The situation described is not one which has the same answers or reasons for all people - it can vary significantly. Undesired responses in the worst possible situations are a standard part of human response and the degree to which people are affected varies. "Purpose tremor" (which really means "opposite of what was intended" tremor) causes the widely experienced spilt-coffee-when=carrying-it phenomenom, the inability to walk a narrow plank high up that could be walked with ease at floor level and a surgeon's hand tremor when he wants to be steady and precise. ... \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 22, 2016 at 9:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ ... In such cases the brain seems to pick up on what you are strongly hoping to avoid and apparently acts to try to bring it about. What seems to happen is that a strong "I must not" + "xxx" pair is formed mentally. And the brain acts on the "xxx" without the "must not". In the case of the coffee & similar I have found that a good approach is to formulate your wishes as a wholly positive statement eg I must keep the cup still and smooth and completely full". ie there is no negative strong thought (eg must not SPILL!!!) for the brain to act on. Whether that works in this case is tbd. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 22, 2016 at 9:58

1 Answer 1


I think I'll try provide a sensible answer as this is actually quite an interesting question, especially for newer photographers who may be put off shooting this kind of thing and does genuinely deserve an answer.

Disclaimer: I'm a fashion photographer. I've shot boudoir a few times to lingerie level and implied topless once. It's not my thing, I'm not speaking from experience but hopefully my answer makes sense at a more common level.

  1. First things first. Always keep it professional. As either parties professional integrity can be on the line, both for professionalism and legitimacy (are they really a photographer, or just getting kicks out of seeing young women wearing very little).
  2. As a photographer you should never steer the conversation in any where close to a sexual direction ESPECIALLY when working. If a model is trying to steer the conversation in that direction. Steer them back. If they don't get the hint actually tell them that it's unprofessional. If needs be. Stop the shoot. When working I rarely talk to a model when I have camera up apart from directions. If anything have generic chit-chat with a model (like when getting your hair cut) Have you gone on holiday this year. Are you busy at the moment.
  3. Work with more professional models. You said yourself it's the more unprofessional ones who know they're sexy and flaunting it. Check references and previous work as well as previous photographers work (to confirm their legitimacy as well).
  4. Probably a controversial point and the end of the day it's basic animal instinct/biology, the blood is heading in that direction because 'good looking female. Potential mate. Better get prepared just in case'.
  5. If you're concerned keep sets short, five minutes a set take a break/costume change. Let yourself calm down.
  6. To quote Homer Simpson. Think unsexy thoughts. You don't do it at the dinner table with your grandparents. Why do it on a shoot?
  7. Maybe try a boudoir group/taster/workshop shoot, as you can always make excuses after shooting a few to go chat with other people and return to normality.
  8. Chat with the model beforehand. Understand they're actually a person doing a job. Find out actually about their random mundaneness of being a human being. They'e not just a poster on the wall of a 14year old boy.
  9. If it makes you uncomfortable, or worried it will affect your professional integrity. Just don't do it.
  10. So important I'm putting it twice. Always. Always. Always keep it professional. If you are uncomfortable or being made to feel uncomfortable. Tell them.
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you, what is not clear from my question maybe, is that I do not have problems with boudoir/nude shots in general. its some single models in certain situations. a quite rare happening, but happens.. Thank you for your answer. this is what i was looking for. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 21, 2016 at 11:48

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