An underage teen model is suing a fashion shooter for $28M. Model Hailey Clauson, who was 15-years-old when fashion photographer, Jason Lee Parry, snapped the photo in dispute, says the image is "blatantly salacious," has damaged her reputation, and might even violate child porn laws.
Wow! Those are some serious accusations. As serious as twenty-eight million bucks! And that's serious money.
The Clauson/Parry story reaffirms (for me) why I rarely, if ever, shoot underage girls. It's not that I'd shoot them in "blatantly salacious" ways, I wouldn't, but since more than a few people probably consider (or would consider) a fair amount of my work as being salacious, blatantly or otherwise, I'd rather avoid even the potential for any possible guilt-by-association accusations.
A famous case of a photographer being sued by a model was Brooke Shields v. Gary Gross. (Link is NSFW.) Gross, you might know, shot the then ten-year-old and very naked Brooke Shields with her mother present. Even though Ms. Shields' mother was there and she signed all the necessary paperwork, Shields later sued him, attempting to bar his use of the photos. Gross ultimately prevailed in the lawsuit but fighting it ruined him financially.
If you're a shooter like me, that is, someone who regularly shoots the sort of content I shoot, I think it makes more sense to simply avoid the potential for being caught up in something like this by simply choosing not to photograph underage models. It ain't like there aren't many, many pretty girls over the age of 18 to grace your viewfinders.
In the past, I've had some not-quite-18-yr-old models ask me to shoot them. I told them to get back in touch with me after their 18th birthdays. In fact, I decline to even shoot stuff like senior pics, usually even head shots of under-18 subjects, simply because of the possibility, no matter how unlikely or remote, of someone making accusations and the content of my usual-and-customary work becoming an issue underscoring or driving that complaint... no matter how bogus the complaint might be.
Up top is yet another model whose name I can't recall and digging out the paperwork sounds like way too much work for a blog post. I do know, however, that she is over 18... probably not all that much over 18 but, when it comes to things like a model's age, as long as I know a model is over 18 and I've personally seen and have the proof, I'm generally and for the most part okay with shooting them as salaciously as my models are willing to go.