What age restrictions apply?

Discussion in 'Portraits and Fashion' started by ron_grover|1, Jul 30, 2007.

  1. Hi. I have only recently decided to take my photography more seriouslly and so
    find I may need a few answers to some points. I mainly do studio portraiture
    glamour fashion artistic nude. I belong to various camera clubs and also run
    my own camera club. Up until now I have always used models who I know as
    friends or are friends of friends. However, having now become quite well known
    locally I am being asked to expand my work, but as I am now in my 70's I am
    reluctant to get too involved. However, I now have developed a register of
    local models all of them just starting out on modelling. But, they are all
    ages from 18months up to 60+. When I did the original interviews I stipulated
    that anyone under 18 years had to have a parent/guardian with them and they
    had to sign their consent. However, I do have some questions about this.

    (1) I assume that if 18 or over, they can do all types of photographic
    modelling, so no problem there.
    (2) But what about the 16 and 17 year olds? In many respects they are above
    the age of consent, ie for sex as an example. But what are they allowed to do
    as a model?
    (a) with parent/guardian consents
    (b) without consents.
    Some of the girls have stated they would like to do Artistic semi-nude
    (topless) or even nude. in some cases, but not all, consent has been granted.
    Most state they will do Lingerie, again some without consent being asked.
    (3) There are some aged 14 and 15 who would also like to do the above, but
    with consents given.
    (4) An 11 year old would like to do Lingerie, with consents given.
    (5) An 8 year old has, with parents consents, (in fact it is the parents who
    want her to do it) offered to also model swimware.

    I realise that this is a detailed list of request, but I am sure there are
    laws and rules and guidelines that cover it all. Maybe there are very clear
    cut laws and rules about it, so infornmation/advice welcome please.

    Many thanks, dps.
  2. Ron,
    You do not tell us which country you are in, laws etc vary greatly in different locations.
    I'm presuming however that you are UK based?, largely from your 'correct' spelling/grammar - a feeling also endorsed by the knee-jerk reaction received from SL (ironic coming from a member in the country that produces the majority of the world's porn!).
    I am no expert in this field, however, with regard to the 16+ groups I think you are taking much the right approach, but with the added caveat that you should make use of Model Release forms at each and every session - these should clearly state the use to which the photos are to be put, and in the case of 16/17 yr olds, be countersigned by the guardian at the time of the shoot.
    When it comes to the young (-16) models, you are venturing into a much more difficult area. Whilst with the correct permissions etc you probably will not commit any offence (consider clothing catalogues for example), you could well fall foul of the law in the way you exhibit your work eg a photo that may be acceptable in a closed exhibition, probably would not be if you exhibit at, say, your local library.
    I would strongly suggest you get proper legal advice here, or contact one of the professional organisations, or the RPS, for clarification.
    I had a book entitled 'The Photographer and the Law' which I believe was published by the RPS - unfortunately I can't lay my hands on it at present.
    If, as I surmise, you are in the UK then I'm sure you will recall the spate of prosecutions a few years ago, of innocent parents snapping their own 'baby in the bath' - offending over zealous mini-lab operators!
    Hope this is of some help.
  3. Photographing naked children? In the U.S., at least, I'd recommend that you should get the counsel of a criminal attorney in every jurisdiction (local, state and federal) in which you intend to photograph, print, possess and/or distribute such photographs. Given the potentially very serious repercussions of crossing the line between whatever you feel is artistic and what the law deems pornographic/obscene/exploitative/dangerous to the welfare of a child, excessive caution would be prudent. (FWIW, I'm a sex crimes prosecutor in the U.S.)
  4. Oh. And be aware that what constitutes a crime in terms of child pornography laws and related statutes most often has nothing to do with whether parental consent was obtained. At times a consenting parent may be deemed to have broken the law, too. Again, this is not a simple area of the law with bright line rules.
  5. thanks for the replies. I am in the UK.
    First of all I would like to say to Steve Levine, joke or not, your responce was in very bad taste, I will leave it at that for now.
    Yes, what has been said is how I thought it would be. But one of the reasons I posted these questions is because some of the parents of the younger girls are very keen indeed to get them started in modelling if they can. Regarding the under age concerns, as has already been mentioned, they are used extensively by fashion catologues etc. But one of the parents felt that the euopean laws of human rights would now overide most laws and rules made for such thins as photographic modelling, and parents can give permission for what thay like. I wonder?

    Regarding information from the RPS, I am a member of the RPS, but although I have asked similar questions there, I did not get any clear answers, hence posting here.

    It is difficult when parents are so Keen, I know from the 40 odd years I was a top level specialist womens athletic coach. We as coaches have o abide by very strict codes of conduct but the athletes do not have such guidelines. I think the same seems to apply with photographers and models?

    I sill feel that it is not that clear cut. For instance, I have a 14 year old model who has posed for some very impressive images. Not Nude or Semi-Nude AND WITH full parents consent. I am now in the process of producing a series of posters with them for commercial use. I have been told that this is perfectly legal and acceptable. by specific outlets for such work.

    Any how. thanks for your replies, I would still very much welcome any further points on the subject.

    All the best, dps.
  6. If you're in the UK, then a quick look through the relevant acts of Parliament reveals:

    Taking a photograph that is not "indecent" of anyone of any age is not a problem. You don't need consent. (That is not the same as not needing consent to publish the image, which you usually don't in the UK, but that's a different question.)

    Taking, distributing or posessing an "indecent" photograph of anyone under 16 is a serious offence.

    Taking, distributing or posessing an "indecent" photograph of anyone aged between 16 and 18 is a serious offence, unless you happen to be married to them or living with them in a relationship, and you had their consent.

    Quoting from Wikipedia: "In R v Graham-Kerr (1988), the accused had taken photographs of a young boy at a nudist meeting at a public swimming baths. The Court of Appeal held that the motivation of the photographer had no influence on the decency or otherwise of the photographs taken; a photograph is an indecent photograph of a child if it is indecent, and if it shows a child."

    That is after a quick perusal of the c.33 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988, The Protection of Children Act 1978, and the Sexual Offences Act 2003.

    Aside from arguments with angry parents (and unless you happen to be married to the model) then consent, from either the parent or child, appears to be entirely irrelevant to the legality of a photograph.

    As to what is "indecent":

    Again quoting from Wikipedia:

    "The terms indecency and indecent have wide application in English law, but are not defined in any legislation. Historically, the words' dictionary definitions (as opposed to legal definitions) helped to resolve legal disputes concerning the scope or application of the terms.

    * In R v Stanley (1965), Lord Parker attempted to differentiate indecency from obscenity:

    "The words indecent or obscene convey one idea: namely, offending against the recognised standards of propriety?indecent being at the lower end of the scale and obscene at the upper end of the scale."

    * In Knuller v DPP, Lord Reid said that indecency includes "anything which an ordinary decent man or woman would find to be shocking, disgusting, or revolting."
    * In R v Graham-Kerr (1988), Stocker L. J. said that the appropriate test in the case of the Protection of Children Act 1978 was the application of the "recognised standards of propriety" stated in R v Stamford (1972).

    Hopefully that will be useful to someone, although obviously I accept no responsibility for the accuracy of this posting.

    You will have to decide whether pictures of girls in swimwear or lingerie counts as indecent. The Court of Appeal is quite clear, however the purpose for which the photograph is taken is not a relevant factor.
  7. I meant to bring up the subject of anyone still at school age or under if the are a performer, needs a lience. Is this a true statement and if so, does photographic modelling come into it? It could be said they perform!

    As mentioned I am in the UK and more specific England.
    Also note, that I refer to photographic modelling, not the open ended, modelling>

    Thanks again, dps
  8. Just in case the previous answer was too wordy, my entirely unqualfied opinion is that the law is entirely clear that taking or posessing a nude or topless picture of a sixteen or seventeen-year old girl, no matter how artfully posed, will land you prison, and no form of consent from anyone will change that.
  9. With a bit more digging, children under compulsory school age need a licence from the local authority to engage in performance or modelling.

    This is my local authority's helpful website on the subject:

  10. I think you are not going to get very useful advice from the average solicitor. Instead, try contacting an ad bureau or magazine/newspaper picture editor that has to deal with these issues day to day (they have access to more expert legal opinion). I'm sure that recent changes in the law and voluntary codes of practice will have an impact: for example, Sam Fox first posed topless for The Sun aged 16, but that was in the 1980s. Beware that newspapers have a "public interest" defense for some pictures that might not cover your situation.

  11. "for example, Sam Fox first posed topless for The Sun aged 16, but that was in the 1980s"

    From what I read yesterday, this would have been legal at the time.

    However section 45 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 amended the relevant sections of the Protection of Children Act 1978 raising the age limit for lawful indecent photography from 16 to 18.

    To avoid criminalising a 17-year old husband taking a picture of his 17 year old wife, exceptions had to be inserted into the legislation at the same time: hence the need to be married to your under-age model. If that applies to you, you are still not permitted to show the picture to anyone else, nor is a third party permitted to appear in it.

    Topless pictures of a sixteen year old model today would not be permitted to be taken, let alone published in a national paper.
  12. Ron, I am not an expert, so cannot offer my expertise on this matter, however, I have dome some research into this and have found the following to be most often the case.

    Obviously there are "legal" issues to consider here, however, I prefer to consider also the "moral" issues as well as the "aesthetic".

    I find that although people in the UK can be photographed with their consent after the age of 18 in pretty much any pose, "staged" poses tend to be more natural with models who have experience in that particular genre. As such I would prefer to keep any nude or semi nudes (which I would hope would be staged and not candid) to models in their early twenties or older.

    Of course, I'm not saying that younger models cannot be experienced, but that the levels to which they are photographed should be tailored to be appropriate to their age.

    I have found that photographers make images for two reasons - for themselves, or for someone else (or a combination of the two).

    Personally I take photographs of people for my own viewing pleasure (and perhaps to show off to some of my friends at the camera club), but don't generally accept commissions from clients - I'm just a hobbyist. I'm definitely not a prude, but I do have my own moral "boundaries" which I set, which I won't cross even if I was to be asked to by a paying customer.

    I am not averse to making images of kids playing and doing normal "kid stuff", and although I fully understand that manufacturers of childrens swimwear have to advertise their products somewhere, I would not entertain any specific request for a traditional "swimwear" shot of any one under the age of, say, 16 or 17. I just don't see the point.

    As a rule of thumb, I would not photograph anyone under 16 in any way which might be found "provocative", "offensive" or just plain weird by your average Joe Bloggs or his granny. I wouldn't do lingerie or sheer until 18, and depending on the type of images you're looking for, I wouldn't really entertain nude until 20/21. I also try to make my models look their age. If I'm photographing a 10 year old, I don't want them to look five or fifteen. If I'm photographing a 60 year old then I want them to look 60. If I'm photographing a nude, then I don't want them to look fifteen - even if they are eighteen or more. Yes, I?m sure you could produce the documentation to prove the age of your models, and I?m sure you could stand up in court and argue the case that a particular shot is artistic and not erotic, sensual and not provocative. I wouldn?t want to be in that position on the first place though, would anyone?

    Basically, if I wouldn't show the pictures to my mother - who has quite an open mind, but has traditional values - then I wouldn't take the picture in the first place.

    No, it doesn't make good business sense to be turning models away, but the fact that you have set yourself values which you stand by will help tremendously in building your reputation.

    Talk to the parents to come up with a more suitable idea - there are plenty of creative ideas out there in the ?glossy? magazines designed to promote fashion or photography.

    Judging by some of the youths who hang out in my town on a Saturday night, it would be quite possible to find people of a young age who would be keen to pose for "inappropriate" shots. Just because they agree to do it, or even WANT to do it, doesn't make it right - and judging by some of their parents attitudes I wouldn't rank their definitions of right and wrong particularly highly either.

    The other poster was right in that parental consent has nothing to do with what models can or cannot do in the eyes of the law. It has to do with the contract of entitlement to use the images after the shoot. It's all about the fact that no-one under the age of eighteen can legally enter into a binding contract without parental consent. The fact that they have their clothes on, off, or somewhere in-between, is irrelevant as far as the release is concerned.

    I have had thirty year old friends of seventeen year old models offer to sign a release on a models behalf before, but this is obviously not legally acceptable ? it has to be their legal parent or guardian ? you might even have to ask for ID from the parent as well as the model. Of course, the model can be accompanied to the shoot by any responsible adult - for that matter I don't think there's any legal requirement for the model to be accompanied at all - whether they're eight or eighty. Common sense would hopefully tell you that they should be accompanied by someone though, for the protection of both parties. I think the only thing that matters is that you should have a signed release before you start shooting - even if that release was signed by the models parents days earlier, by mail if need be.

    hope this helps - other posters please let me know if I'm way off the mark here.

    rgds, Guy
  13. Guy,

    "It has to do with the contract of entitlement to use the images after the shoot. It's all about the fact that no-one under the age of eighteen can legally enter into a binding contract without parental consent."

    Much as I agree with most of what you say, there's no recognised or strict requirement in the UK for a model release for any use (commercial or otherwise) of a photograph. It's good practice to avoid argument, but in the UK nobody owns any rights in their own image (excepting pictures taken for private and domestic purposes - and that is a matter of copyright, not contract law)
  14. Thankyou Alec, for clarifying that point. I should have said that the release is an authorisation from the model to the photographer to permit or restrict the use of the models likeness for commercial (or otherwise documented) purposes. This is there to "protect" the photographer, but is of little benefit to the model.

    As such the release isn't really a "contract" at all, but just a "documented agreement" - okay now I'm confused - aren't they the same thing?

  15. Hi everyone and many thanks for all your help/advice/suggestions.
    Alex, your indepth explinations in highlighting the legal issues etc are indeed very helpful,I will certainly be taking all that for consideration.
    Guy, your equally indepth explinations are also very useful and promote much thought.
    Mark, What you suggest is very true, I have known many page 3 girls in my time, but as it has been pointed out, that was than, now is now.

    Just to make my situation very clear, I have never broken any of the age limit rules with any models.(But I will refer to the licence situation later). As I mentioned in my original post, because I am quite well know locally I am being asked asked to expand my photographic activities. I am not to keen to do this for various reasons, age being one of them. All I have agreed to do at this point in time is to establish a local register of those people interested in becoming a model, or are already doing modelling. This register would be circulated to camera clubs that are considered to be quite local. We (the camera club) feel it is best for such a register to be held and setup by us even if it is just a starting point for would be models. There are already many agencies in our district and it is my opinion that they do not always serve the best interest for photographic models i.e as against the general term model.

    My main activity is studio photography and I do hold courses and workshops on the subject, be it at present mainly for camera clubs.The youngest age of any nude model I have used is in her 40's This is not because I think a nude model has to be mature, but simply because I have never had access to any other nude models.However, there is a demand for expansion of studio workshops and nude models are always very popular if only for the wonderful artistic poses you can create with the female body. So I had a need for more models.
    I would certainly never use a nude model under the age of 18.

    The 16-17 year olds did pose a bit of a problem as I was getting so many different opinions as to what you can and cannot do at that age. As I mentioned, I cannot find any information on this with the RPS and I have even contacted them again recently for advice. I will not be doing nude or topless with that age group, but, with parent/guardian consents, I will allow Lingerie/swimsuite (but not in a studio workshop, only for potential advertisers.

    Under 16 will obviouslly be totally under parent/guardian control, but, I will also take into accout what the model feels about it. ie just because the parents/guardian give consent, the model must also. There are I am sure many situations with over keen parents,were the model does not really want to even do modelling.They would obviouslly be restricted in what they can and cannot do if accepted.

    For the very young, I would nearly always only undertake mother/baby situations (I guess I also have to say father/baby as well) For the very young I feel the only openning for them is in advertising and stock photo situations for promotions/advertising. This is very hard to get into and my only function would be to pass those interested onto specialised agencies.

    The only area I personally am somewhat confused about is this Licence situation for children of school age. Looking at the link Alec provided, I see that Sport is included as needing a licence. In my 55year involvement with sports, mainly athletics, I have never heard of this and certainly the hundreds of school age children I have been involved with, have never been issued a licence, as none have been asked for either by me or to my knowledge their patents or teachers.

    What I do feel is, that if a licence is required to allow a school age child to model, this alone will prevent the parents wanting their child to be a model. (maybe a good thing!) I will be contacting my local council for their input on the subject.

    So once again, many thanks for the help/advice/suggestions, I think we have covered this very well and maybe also it will help others in our forums. But, maybe the Licence situation can be developed further, all the best, Ron (dps)
  16. I thought I would show this answer from my local council regarding licence for children of school age. As you can see this is not needed to photograph and produce a portfolio for a school aged child, only if they earn income from it.

    I have since asked another question but she is out of the office until next week. Which is. What is the situation of a 14 year old who has posters made from her photographs for selling in poster galleries. This does not class as performing and until anything is sold, she will not actually earn anything.

    Personally, I feel it may still need a lience because you are trying to sell something and also they would be shown on websites and that as I understand it does need a lience. Any ideas on this.

    All the best, Ron dps
  17. Sorry I forgot to show the actual message I got.

    Dear Ron

    With regard to your query regarding the need for licencing children under compulsory school leaving age (0 - last Friday in June following the child's 16th birthday).

    If you are employed/asked by a parent to prepare a portfolio for their child to become a model, a performance licence would not be needed. However, I would suggest the parent/carer was always present.

    If the child is found a paying modelling job (either through an agency or private), a performance licence would be needed. This is for still photography (eg. Fashion shoots), cat walk modelling, broadcasting (eg. TV commercials) and use on web sites.

    Modelling for a camera club would not need a licence, but it is advisable that the parent is present.

    With regard to sport, the children only need licencing if they are being paid.

    If you require further information, there is information on the council website eastsussex.gov.uk or national website buckscc.gov/nncee/. You can also call me to discuss matters further.


    Fiona Osborne
    Child Employment and Entertainment Officer
    East Sussex Education Welfare Service

    Sorry about that, Ron.
  18. In Britain the SOA 2003 was designed with U18, so the Australian way of doing things would get a photographer arrested fairly quickly.

    I worked on drafting that legislation witrh politicians at Westminster & the devolved legislatures.

    "Modelling for a camera club would not need a licence, but it is advisable that the parent is present. "

    I'd put it a lot stronger than that.

    Gregory Carlin
  19. If a person is doing adult nude photography it might be clever to skip going near children entirely. IIt just doesn't look right does it?

    I think doing lingerie with U18 is asking for the police to knock the door. I certainly work very hard to make sure that they do.

    That's what I do for a living.

    Be careful

    Gregory Carlin

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