Posing nude for a professional photographer

Are there any circumstances where posing nude for a professional photographer is morally acceptable?

Its all about intent and to what degree are you participating in any evil.

One that comes to mind would be for a medical book of some kind.

Medical is one.

If you are an infant and you are wearing fuzzy angel wings.

If you’re really ugly and nobody would be tempted by you.

Nah, just kidding. That was harsh.

I wouldn’t think so…And what does the photographer intend to do with the photos?
Display them to…whose eyes? Enjoy them himself/herself, or put them out there for any to be viewed by any person of any intent?

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church: the ninth commandment:

2521 Purity requires modesty, an integral part of temperance. Modesty protects the intimate center of the person. It means refusing to unveil what should remain hidden. It is ordered to chastity to whose sensitivity it bears witness. It guides how one looks at others and behaves toward them in conformity with the dignity of persons and their solidarity.

2522 Modesty protects the mystery of persons and their love. It encourages patience and moderation in loving relationships; it requires that the conditions for the definitive giving and commitment of man and woman to one another be fulfilled. Modesty is decency. It inspires one’s choice of clothing. It keeps silence or reserve where there is evident risk of unhealthy curiosity. It is discreet.

2523 There is a modesty of the feelings as well as of the body. It protests, for example, against the voyeuristic explorations of the human body in certain advertisements, or against the solicitations of certain media that go too far in the exhibition of intimate things. Modesty inspires a way of life which makes it possible to resist the allurements of fashion and the pressures of prevailing ideologies.

Just curious, how do you feel about pictures of breasts or genitalia in books for med students?

Obviously sometimes necessary but often for learning purposes drawings are more helpful to the students. I know a professional medical illustrator who does incredible drawings for medical textbooks and I’ve seen her work prior to its insertion into medical textbooks. Drawings are actually more informative as certain areas can be emphasized, colored or otherwise allowed to focus on particular elements. Perhaps an occasional photo of a gross abnormality is appropriate…when I look at some of the medical magazines that come to our office I see photos of really unusual conditions, tumors, and abnormalities. But for the most part just a bunch of pictures of normal breasts and genitalia are of limited value.

That being said, I am curious about some of the mummies exhibits such as are in our local science museum. I know there was a previous exhibit of preserved bodies and I understood this was not appropriate for Catholics to ogle these human remains. Any thoughts?


My intention was to convey the Church’s, the Bible’s moral teaching, and the moral concerns. And I otherwise posed questions rather than oppose all possibilities. The issue you mention did occur to me, but I didn’t address it as it would not be a common reason for a photographer to take nude photos.

I’m a bit curious about this as I’m a Professional Photographer. Although I have absolutely no desire to photograph anyone in the nude, I wonder what those who oppose it have to say about Michaelangelo’s “David” or the Sistene Chapel, which shows nudity in a Church?

What if they need a picture of a breast or a genitalia to show what a disease looks like? Would that fall under the category of permissible?

A statue does not have an immortal soul that can go to hell so he can pose as he wishes. :wink:

Fair enough but I bet you can almost guarantee that nearly every nude portrait ever painted was based on someone that did, indeed, have a soul ;).

How sad for them. I hope they included that in their confession before they died.
The statue David would still be magnificent with the private parts covered.

Although I doubt nude art would appear in churches other than the Renaissance treasures…since you first posed your question, thus far I’ve not successfully googled information regarding specific Church statements relating to the displayed nude works Renaissance artists. Perhaps someone else may be more successful.

It is not correct to compare paintings or sculpture to a photograph.


I agree, the nudity isn’t required but that is a completely irrelevant point and does not address the subject at hand.

I’d appreciate reading anything you find as I’m definitely leaning, as I almost always do, toward the conservative side of the argument. I would assume that I agree with the Church on this subject but would still love to know what they say about it.

Why not? They are both renditions of their respective subjects and are not the actual person.

Nothing wrong with the human form.


In most artistic renditions, the focus is on the human form and not the genitalia. If it is pictured at all, it is generally deliberately de-emphasized. In a photographic image, everything is present and to scale.

To document an illness on a body, if essential to save human lives?

But generally, no.

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