Test shoot involving nudity with agency signed model

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Daphne Kane

5 February 2020
I did a test shoot with a model (22yrs old) from a small local agency, the shoot was given the go ahead by her agent but the mood board was not specific about styling at all. As the shoot unfolded and with the complete input and encouragement of the model, the decision was made to shoot one of the looks topless for stylistic reasons. The images are not of a sexual nature at all.

The model also reviewed all the images before confirming which ones she'd be happy to have published by the team and due to her age, consent and creative input, the agent was not contacted about the decision to shoot topless.

A day after one of the shots was posted to Instagram, the agent was in touch asking that no images be uploaded due to the possibility that it could damage the model's career by putting off more conservative clients. Her communication suggested that it was my responsibility to not shoot in a way not previously discussed with the agent, despite the model's consent.

While I have removed the image, my question is: Am I in the wrong legally? I understand the issues in the way of burning bridges with agencies and test shoot etiquette etc, but is there actually any law preventing me from using my images (non-commercially)? No model release was signed, but there was also no contract sent through to me by the agency prior to shooting. There are no terms of shooting on their website also.

John R

Well-Known Member
14 April 2014
Hi @Daphne Kane,
It sounds like you aren't necessarily "in the wrong legally" but without an agreement/release in writing, it becomes a photographer said/model said/agency said issue.

Tim W

LawTap Verified
28 April 2014
As somebody who deals with models and other young/ early career performers,
I can see the agent's point.

The agent presumably has the overall long term interest
(such as market position) of the model in mind.
As they should.
The agent might also be cranky because they would probably have charged you
more upfront for topless/ glamour/ figure work, and secured a more detailed release.

Thing is, the agent works for the model, not the other way around.
  • any problem of this kind that the agent has is really between the model and the agent;
  • unless (as a matter of their contract with the agent) the model has
    surrendured some degree of creative control to the agent,
    then the model can make their own creative decisions while working;
  • you have probably made a good choice by agreeing to the take down.
    Last thing you need is some agent putting it about that you're not professional and detached,
    and thereby making it hard to get future bookings.