Photographer under fire for using a nude photo in a book after the model asked him not to [NSFW]

Oct 8, 2020

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

Photographer under fire for using a nude photo in a book after the model asked him not to [NSFW]

Oct 8, 2020

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

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Photographer David Paul Larson recently came under fire after a chat with a model who asked him not to publish her nude photo. It’s a very tricky case, where the photographer has all the legal right to use the image. But after he ignored the model’s plea not to include her image, the community reacted fiercely.

Diet Prada shared a screenshot of the conversation between Larson and the model Paulina Keamy. They also shared the background story on their Patreon page. Diet Prada writes that Keamy agreed to shoot with Larson after he reached out to her on Instagram in 2016. “I wanted to work with him because I saw he was shooting girls from agencies I wanted to be signed with,” she reportedly said. “I thought his interest in shooting me was confirmation that I was good enough to be signed to these agencies too.”

The model described the uncomfortable moments she experienced while at the shoot. “While shooting, he would say things like, ‘what is sexy to you? Now, show me’. I didn’t know what this meant,” Diet Prada writes. “I continued to pose as I normally would and he would stop and ask me again, ‘what is sexy to you?’. I could tell he wanted me to be doing more of *something*, but I wasn’t sure what it was.”

Fast forward to 2020, Larson told Keamy that she would be featured in his next book. She wasn’t happy about it and she expressed it clearly:

“Honestly, that really bums me out – I’m assuming it’s a nude photo and I am forever so ashamed that I did nude shoots when I was 19/20/21 for no reason other than wanting validation. I know that once the photos are taken they technically belong to the photographer (a problem in itself) but it sucks that now, 3/4/5 years later as a 26 year old adult in a long term relationship working a proper job, that book with a photo of my naked body is being printed and I don’t have any consent in the matter.”

Despite Keamy’s message, Larson didn’t want to give up on publishing a photo of her along with the others. He replied:

“I understand but you did give written and verbal consent every time we worked together. It’s a huge investment of time and energy for me to not be able to use photographs years after they were shot.”

Keamy then wanted to know when contracts like this expire. He asked Larson why, “on a human level,” he would want to use old photos of girls he shot if they really don’t want him to do it.

“You shoot hundreds of girls who would probably be thrilled to have their naked bodies published in a book. Whatever – I know how this works so please at least do not include/change my name and I’ll just hope and pray that someday the mistakes I made in my late teens/early twenties eventually stop following me.”

“The model release is in perpetuity,” Larson responded. “Thank you for understanding and I will not be using any names in the book.”

Keamy was obviously misunderstood and she restated her position:

“To be clear – you do not have my understanding nor do I give you permission to use my photos and formally request here and now that you do not use them for your book or otherwise. This is MY NAKED BODY – how is this even up for debate?”

However, she didn’t hear back from the photographer anymore. Revolted by him seeing the message and not responding, she wrote:

“Cool, well it’s been hours since my last message was marked as “seen” so I’m done giving you opportunities to make the right decision here.

I feel extremely sad for my younger self and for every other girl who has collaborated with you and naively believed you would respect their decisions pertaining to THEIR OWN BODIES. this is gross. I pray your name never pops up in any other impressionable young woman’s inbox again. Bye.”

“In the last couple years, we’ve seen survivors come forward about their experiences with Bruce Weber, Mario Testino, Timur Emek, and Marcus Hyde,” Diet Prada wrote in the Instagram post you see above. All these names are on Shit Model Management’s blacklist, and Larson’s name is there as well. What all of them have in common is that models reported them to Shit Model management more than three times.

Professor Susan Scafidi of Fordham University’s Fashion Law Institute discussed the matter from a legal standpoint. She confirmed what most of us knew, and that is that the photographer is legally right. “Unless the model was underage or there’s another flaw or loophole in the release, there’s very little that the law can do,” she said. “Some state laws on rights of publicity limit what can be done with the model’s image, for example, use in an ad, but the photos can often be displayed, reused, and sold without the model’s permission or even additional compensation.” Scafidi added that the ideal solution would be to advise models never to sign away all rights in perpetuity, “but this is an area ripe for reform, she concluded.

I find this to be a very sensitive topic and it could be hard to say who’s in the right. It all depends on your standpoint.

On the one hand, Larson has indeed done nothing wrong, legally speaking. The model signed the release, these are the photos he took, and he can do whatever he wants with them. Also, I kinda understand if he doesn’t want the time and effort he spent shooting to go to waste, so to speak.

However, I still side with the model here. When I read their conversation, I thought about what I would do if I was the photographer. Well, if someone openly asked me not to use their photo and reasoned their plea, I would definitely respect their wish. Screw time and energy I spent shooting, screw the law and the perpetual model release – if my actions make someone feel uncomfortable, I won’t do it. Just like Keamy wrote, on a human level, I wouldn’t want to use someone’s photos if they were uncomfortable with it and stated it loud and clear. This is why I think that Larson should have just given it up, regardless of the legal rights he has in this case.

Whose side are you on? Who do you think is in the right here?

At the moment of writing this, David Paul Larson’s Instagram account is private.

[via The Phoblographer]

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Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

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42 responses to “Photographer under fire for using a nude photo in a book after the model asked him not to [NSFW]”

  1. Johnny Martyr Avatar
    Johnny Martyr

    Siding with the model here

  2. Elena Coddington Avatar
    Elena Coddington

    Exactly I side with the model, unacceptable hope she signed a contract that dictates that too!!!!!! If there was one. ??‍♀️??‍♀️??‍♀️??‍♀️

  3. Kevin Auld Avatar
    Kevin Auld

    cba reading the article. if she signed something saying this wasn’t allowed, side with her. if she didnt and was paid etc etc, side with him.

  4. Burt Johnson Avatar
    Burt Johnson

    The photographer is in the legal right. However, if there is a full book involved, and the photog really has shot “hundreds of women,” it should not be all that hard to swap out this one photo with another. As a human being, it seems doing so would be the decent thing to do.

  5. Baur Utebayev Avatar
    Baur Utebayev

    If model release (which covers this kind of use) was signed by model it means that photographer has all the right to choose which photos to publish (her or any other person). As I understand this is the situation here.
    One can side with her or with him, but if he has all the legal rights, there is not much to discuss. It’s all upon his decision.

    1. Johnny Martyr Avatar
      Johnny Martyr

      Baur Utebayev, I don’t think that even the model doubts the legality. What she and the rest of us doubt is the ethics.

    2. Tunes Firwood Avatar
      Tunes Firwood

      “It’s not illegal” is the least moral justification I can think of.

    3. Frédéric Naville Avatar
      Frédéric Naville

      OK .. As far as I know, the model is legally correct. Even if she has signed a contract, she always has the right, by invoking image rights, to revoke her decision. If the photographer has not signed an “exit clause” (such as paying penalties in the event of revocation of the contract) then she can ask, being in her right, to remove the images, free of charge.

      1. Dale Black Avatar
        Dale Black

        You are completely wrong about the legal aspects of the situation, Fred. Please delete your comments so that others are not confused. The model sold the right to publish her image to the photographer. Now she has changed her mind. She needs to ask the photographer what it would cost to buy the right back.

  6. jonathane Avatar
    jonathane

    Emily Ratajkowski just wrote an article in this same vein about a photo shoot she went on. In the article she said that she was raped by the photographer, wasn’t reimbursed for her travel expenses and neither her nor her agent signed a release. Still years later, the photographer published a book with her name on the cover, with those photos. It is amazing how people do not have the control or right to their own image while photographers feel that since they simply pushed a button they can control the picture.

  7. Don Barnard Avatar
    Don Barnard

    She was happy to consent in the hopes she’d gain something from his work and connections…
    He didn’t do anything wrong or illegal.

    It’s a tough choice and I empathize with them both…

    But in the end… the issue is they collaborated and her career didn’t take off and she doesn’t want him to earn a living with the work they collaborated on.

    Think before you sign would be the lesson here…

    I don’t agree with the majority… but photographers out there need to also pay attention that this is the world we live in, being right won’t stop hordes of vindictive activists from ruining you and that’s something you need to think of before you act.

  8. Camera operator Hong Kong Avatar
    Camera operator Hong Kong

    Legally, it seems she is not on the right side.
    She also choose him for his portfolio of models. It was her to come to him at the first place.
    I’m sorry she now have afterthoughts, but it will be hard to get this fixed at this point.
    .
    Making noise on social media will only bring more view on the pictures she don’t want to be seen.
    Should the news just keep low profile to avoid such?
    .
    A good reminder to all that you should be careful with your image and information you publish.

  9. Ahmet Avatar
    Ahmet

    So by now, even if a photographer has done everything as required still can be the bad guy. Because the model says she felt uncomfortable and made a bad decision years ago.
    Hello, people go to jail because they made bad decisions. I changed my mind is not an argument. This is why you sign a cintract. It means “I can’t change my mind from now on”.

  10. Peter Withe Avatar
    Peter Withe

    After reading the headline my initial thought was the photog was in the right.
    However, have changed my mind – especially on the morality side of it.
    And the photos just come across as intimidating on the model – are all his shots like this?

  11. Alex Ragen Avatar
    Alex Ragen

    The law may give the photographer the right to publish the photo, but it doesn’t obligate him to do it. He could have shown some compassion, especially since he appears to have innumerable similar photos of other women who are presumably more than happy to have their photos published. IMHO the fact that he habitually inserts himself into his photos says a lot about his “personal” issues, and that he calls this “Art” doesn’t exonerate him.

    1. Kaouthia Avatar
      Kaouthia

      The model could’ve shown him a refund, too. :)

      I mean, this guy’s a creepy bastard, no doubt, but if you pay somebody for a job that comes with certain rights, you can’t be expected to just give those up without at minimum being reimbursed.

  12. Daris Fox Avatar
    Daris Fox

    Legally he’s in the right, ethically it’s more questionable. If she didn’t want the images why not offer to buy them instead of pleading to his conscience or trying emotional blackmail? Many famous people have done this in the past to reclaim images they don’t want in the public domain, and why should a photographer be out of pocket with images they no longer can use? We’re potentially seeing a similar situation brewing with OnlyFans content where the models may end up with unforeseen circumstances years down the line.

    From her comments she was naive about the industry, how it works and whilst the comments made on set seem distasteful they’re part of directing someone for a specific look. After all a model is paid to act a role and it’s always seems that it’s the photographers/agencies fault that they didn’t bother to learn how the industry works, and it’s not as if it’s a great secret after all you can spend some time on Modem Mayhem to learn what you need to or ask another model.

    Life is all about living with the bad decisions you make when you’re younger sometimes, like in this situation, you might be able to make good most times you won’t. When I shot nude models I made it explicitly clear about how the images can be used and that the images could be bought back using perpetual licencing/hand-over. It’s of these types situations that I generally avoided shooting nude models, I just didn’t want to deal with the grief/toxic fault out that comes of it.

  13. Jay Phillips Avatar
    Jay Phillips

    The poll needs to be rephrased. Who’s side are you on vs. who’s in the right are two different things. He has the legal right to publish. Morally he shouldn’t, especially if he has “hundreds” of other models that would love to be in the book. This is a sticky wicket. If we want to be fair and treat nude modeling as any other form of art, we can’t then use the fact of nudity as a special dispensation take the photographers rights. That being said this unfortunately groups us photographers with music/movie execs and publishers who can potentially (and usually do) abuse the rights granted to us by the artists because of a photographer’s position of power as happened here.

  14. Steven Naranjo Avatar
    Steven Naranjo

    If they weren’t nudes, don’t think as many would be in the side of the model. That’s really a big part of the foundation do the argument. 100% the photographer has the legal right, as stated in the article (yes I read it) because it’s at least implied there were written contracts. I can only imagine this photographer has some (and this is highly speculative) obsession with said model to pretty blatantly disregard a pretty reasonable request pertaining to highly personal photos.

  15. Michael Groah Avatar
    Michael Groah

    Im going to side with what the photographer feels he wants to do. If you change the sitaution around, I dont believe the model would stop using the photo because the photographer didn’t like his work had he signed his rights of the photo away. I’ve been in a similiar scenario where a model was kissing their SO of that time for the photo, something they wanted me to shoot understanding the use and when I actually to posted to social media a couple months later, the model and her friends messaged me multiple times and all at once like they were trying to gang up on me to take it down because it was a bad breakup for her… Do I have the legal right to post it, absolutely, do I? Not on social media but yes on my online portfolio. The photo is mine as is this photographers and to side otherwise in an offical capacity will eventually destablize our copywrite laws. Unfortunatelly morality shouldn’t be in play for others to decide.

  16. Duncan Dimanche Avatar
    Duncan Dimanche

    I’m not expert but taking photos to post them online is way different than printing a book and selling it…

    All publishers would requests the recognizable people on each photos…

    Or did I miss something?

  17. Valkyrie VF-2SS Avatar
    Valkyrie VF-2SS

    I rather feel for the model. She had a change of heart and wishes she could take it back…

    However, she did sign a contract/release. Those exist for this type of reason. While she could have decided she didn’t want her nudes out there, she also could have offered to buy them back from the photographer. The photographer did spend time and money on her and her pictures. Whether he was creepy or weird is besides the point. That would have been the proper course of action–she gets what she wants, and he gets something. While he may have hundreds of pics to choose from, he picked hers for X reasons.

    With that being said… I am hoping the negative publicity was worth it for him, though. He could have (legally) just posted his pictures, and not let her know, and he likely wouldn’t be in this situation. I think a big part of it is that he messaged her before he did so.

  18. Jason Dunning Avatar
    Jason Dunning

    People need to stop expecting others to feel as they do. Don’t want nude images of you used for a book? Don’t model nude for a photographer. Drama avoided. Made your bed, now lie in it. Life does not work the way you want it to. This is a clear case of that.

  19. Gary Bailey Avatar
    Gary Bailey

    Photographer takes pictures that model doesn’t want splashing all over the internet. Media company uses pictures to illustrate an article about the morality of using pictures on the internet, that she doesn’t want spread all over the internet…….

  20. Le Coin Bureau Avatar
    Le Coin Bureau

    There seems to be an element of the story that was not presented in the story itself. The photographer is inserting himself into photos he took of nude models. Would I be correct to assume this changes the nature of the original photograph and thereby changes what the model had agreed to and licensed in the first place? Perhaps more simply put, the model agreed to ‘nude’ not ‘lewd’. Now the wording of the model release becomes even more important, right? Whose side are you on now?

  21. Dale Black Avatar
    Dale Black

    The model sold the rights to an intimate photo, with the goal of advancing in her career. If she has somehow changed her mind about what she sold, she needs to return the money paid, and ask how much the photographer wants, to sell her the rights to the photo. She is being a little bitch by trying to dissolve a legal agreement on a personal whim. That should not be encouraged.

  22. Janni / JEM Photo Avatar
    Janni / JEM Photo

    This case is why I have an option for the models to buy their pictures out, if they change their minds later. There is a contract for a reason. But if the model really don’t want to have their pictures shown anymore, they can buy them frem me, and then I won’t use them anymore, because then she would be a paying customer.

    1. Angelina Devine Avatar
      Angelina Devine

      And that is nice – but then, if you already made a publication, and they decide to change their mind – what then, you go around and buy every copy and torch them? If you have spent time and money on doing an exhibition – PR and everything – and then they change their mind?

      This is why you do contracts, when you shoot with models – because sometimes you work on something for years – and then the recall means your project is done.

  23. John Beatty Avatar
    John Beatty

    OK, you need to keep things in of morality in reality. A model at 19yo is an adult. Model made a decision to have nude photos taken as a career enhancement. Model signed a contract (I do believe photographer is creepy). I have had to sign contracts and non-compete disclosures in my career and some I wish I didn’t due to job changes. We are responsible for our actions. Military service, photo ops, tattoos; if you question the choice you are about to make, seek legal assistance. My parents raised me to always be accountable for my actions. Hence, I have never posted nude :)

  24. Steve Slate Avatar
    Steve Slate

    The bottom line in this matter isn’t who is right, it a matter of doing the right thing. Respect always trumps fame and fortune in the long run. I think switching out one or two images that are not wanted in the book far outweighs the potential of a tarnished reputation. Just because you’re right doesn’t mean you don’t have to do the right thing. Honoring others, specifically in this case, will do more for his reputation, than trying to save a buck. Word of mouth travels fast. Integrity has no holiday.

  25. Steven Dale Avatar
    Steven Dale

    This is yet another example of the imbalance of power between models (usually young women) and photographers (usually males), especially when models are starting out or trying to break into the industry. Personally I have never shot nudes so never been in this situation so maybe that diminishes my viewpoint. However, as a father, brother, husband (human being full-stop!) I wouldn’t any of the females I know to find themselves in a similar situation. My hope is that the industry regulates itself better and that no model release (where nudity is involved) can be for more than 12 months at a time (ever). All existing ones should become expired in 12 months (by law if needed). We are better than this and we should be leading (as photographers) not being forced to follow.

  26. Robert Hicks Avatar
    Robert Hicks

    So the photographer paid a model who had volunteered and accepted the job in order to create an asset of value and now should not be allowed to use the property he created to seek compensation? Amazing how many people find “moral” excuses to deprive others of their property

  27. Sam David Avatar
    Sam David

    I always respect the model’s right to decide, after the fact, that they do not want their nude images posted. I have taken them down from my selling website immediately on request and from my photographic Facebook and Instagram pages. The models for whom this has been done have gone on to careers in other professions where their advancement would be compromised if their modeling nude became known. It’s sad, but a reality, and I accept it. And, for the record, I am not out just time and effort, but I have paid the models who have made this request substantial fees when we worked together.

  28. Angelina Devine Avatar
    Angelina Devine

    And that is why we sign contracts – because years of work can be down the drain, if models changes their mins, once the project is ready to launch.

    I am sorry she regretted her choices, but that is her issue, not the photographers…

  29. cameradoll Avatar
    cameradoll

    If he was a female photographer this wouldn’t even be a story.

    I think the saddest part of the model’s story is she is another woman who sees nudes of the human body as something dirty that could hinder her success.

    From what I saw the photographers work it wasn’t pornographic. His nudes look lovely and elegant.

  30. Richard Doktor Avatar
    Richard Doktor

    Great … a case that only in the USA is possible anymore. All other civilized countries on this planet respects the “rights of their own image”. _Especially_ in such a case to _exactly_ prevent such case.

    1. Kaouthia Avatar
      Kaouthia

      They respect them in the USA, too, that’s why they have the Right of Publicity. It’s why photographers PAY models for a release to waive that right, too. She did that of her own free will. :)

      1. Richard Doktor Avatar
        Richard Doktor

        Um… no. The USA does not respect anything. Must have something to do with the word “shoot”. As soon as anything can be “shot”, they stupidly insist on their right and trample on the right of others.
        The photographer may have secured the rights of the model by contract, but I am 99% sure that there is nothing about nude pictures.
        Because this should be explicitly stated. And according to the model’s behavior, I am probably right.
        Furthermore, it is now the case that the right to one’s own image is above any contract. That means that the person depicted can always prohibit the photographer from publishing his picture, no matter what kind of contract exists.
        But you can’t know that in the medieval USA, where you don’t care about the rights of others, or see how it is handled in the world. :)

        1. Kaouthia Avatar
          Kaouthia

          Well, I suggest you don’t ever get nude in front of a camera and then you won’t have a problem either way, will you? :)

        2. Robert Larson Avatar
          Robert Larson

          So I take it you don’t like the USA?

  31. Stéphane Tremblay Avatar
    Stéphane Tremblay

    As a tv director I am on the photographer’s side. He did things legally and the adult model signed the contract. A contract is something you need to think about. That may be the thing that is missing these days as I see that the votes are more on the model’s side that the photographer. Imagine a tv production, all the costs involved: the decor, the crews, etc and after the shoot, the editing, the vfx, an actor change his mind and we shoot scrap all the invested money and start again with another actor who may change his or her mind again? That would be the end of an industry. Think before you sign or learn from your mistakes and their consequences.

  32. Edward C. Greenberg Avatar
    Edward C. Greenberg

    Our law office serves as retained litigation counsel representing Mr. Larson. Each and every of the 35 models involved in the subject photo shoot(s) signed a “Sensitive Model” release specifically providing for the image(s) to be used as “nude”. Each model produced a driver’s licenses and/or passport indicating their identity and that they were of age and the person they represented themselves to be. Ms. Keamy signed two such releases 4 months apart.

    A photograph of each and every model holding their respective signed model releases and their drivers license/passport was taken by Mr. Larson.

    A model and/or photographer and/or client can if he/she so desires limit the time within which the subject photography may be published and in what specific media. Time limitations on model releases are extremely rare for a myriad of practical and business reasons.

    Mr. Larson is in complete compliance with all applicable laws. We represent Mr. Larson and will continue to do so as this matter progresses. The professor cited in the article did not apparently disclose as to whether or not she is personally involved, retained or authorized to speak on behalf of any of the parties in this matter.

    Neither this office nor Mr. Larson will have any additional comments at this time. When, as and if there is a filing by this office of publicly accessible litigation papers, all relevant facts and circumstances will become part of the public record.

    Our office has represented countless models from top tier model agencies who have been photographed nude or partially nude by the likes of Richard Avedon, Bruce Weber, Andy Warhol and countless other famous and not so famous photographers or artists. Many of those works hang in museums, others are in galleries, private homes, magazines and books.

    The subject work was not created in connection with the sale, promotion or branding of a product, service, entity or charity.