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Sun, Nov 30, 2008
The New Paper
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Shoot such photos and you may ruin modelling career
by Hedy Khoo

THE exploitation of young girls by sleazy amateur photographers must be stopped because they are giving the modelling industry a bad name, say industry observers.

Some of them have started campaigns online to urge the authorities to step in against those who post nude or topless pictures of girls on their websites.

Last week, The New Paper on Sunday reported about photo sessions for amateur photographers who pay to shoot models in bikinis, lingerie or in the nude.

One recent bikini and nude shoot featured a former adult film actress from Thailand.

Modelling agency owner Kirk Hsu, 29, who has written numerous letters to the authorities, said he was glad The New Paper on Sunday had highlighted the issue.
But he said more should be done.

“Many of the amateur models are as young as 16, and they usually do not possess adequate knowledge about the modelling industry,” said Mr Hsu.

“Impressionable young girls can easily be persuaded into doing lingerie and nude shoots.”

A check by The New Paper on Sunday turned up a page on the ClubSNAP forum displaying 11 photos posted by one photographer.

The pictures were of teenage-looking girls posing seductively. Most of them were in bikinis, underwear or only partially clothed. One picture showed a girl lying face down on a bed, wearing only a pair of panties.

Another showed a girl, who appeared to be younger than 16, lying on a bed dressed only in a white lacy bra and panties.

Mr Hsu observed that the trend of shooting young girls in bikinis, lingerie and in the nude became evident with increased postings for such organised shoots since February this year.

He said there is even a local term for such young models – “XMM”, which stands for xiao mei mei (Mandarin for young girl).

“I find it dubious that photographers would wish to shoot girls of such an age in lingerie,” he said.

“These girls do not realise that once they have been shot, the copyright of photographs belong to the photographers and they can do whatever they like with them.”

Like soft porn

Said Mr Hsu: “Nude shoots have become more popular and the photos have increasingly slanted towards soft porn.”

He noted that some photographers have been posting nude pictures of their models in online discussions.

“The photographers have defended themselves rigorously in ClubSNAP and tried to explain that they are practising art,” he said.

A check by the New Paper on Sunday on one forum page entitled “Summer Seduction (Nude Content)” no longer had any pictures on display, but carried comments from netizens.

One wrote “It does feel more like pretty, soft-core pornographic material than artistic nudes though.

From the photos, I see pretty, sexy girl more than anything else.”

There are also postings from photographers looking for models to do lingerie or nude shoots, with links to their own websites carrying their portfolios.

One link led to a site with photographs of a nude model tied up, showing her private parts.

Said Mr Hsu: “Young girls who want to be models do not realise the impact of posing for lingerie or nude shoots.

“Most modelling agencies will not sign on models who have posed in lingerie or in the nude as clients do not want such models to endorse their products.”

He also cautioned that should these girls wish to take part in beauty pageants later, such photos could surface and hurt their image.

And some of these photographers may have dubious backgrounds.

“They could be fly-by-night operators who are hard to track if a problem arises later,” he said.

Mr Adrian Wee, 30, a criminal lawyer from Characterist LLC said: “Posing in lingerie is not necessarily obscene, but a photograph of a child posing in lingerie is obscene because of her age.”

He questioned the need for photographers to choose girls as young as 14 or 15 for such shoots.

“The only reasons for such pictures of young girls are that these photographers are deliberately looking for such an age group, or because these girls are too young to know any better,” he said.

Ms Yuvarani Thangavelu, Senior Assistant Director of Media Policy (New Media) at the Media Development Authority, said the MDA adopts a light-touch regulatory approach to facilitate the growth of the Internet in Singapore.

Ms Thangavelu explained that Internet Content Providers are required to exercise their judgement to ensure their content and services comply with the Class Licence conditions and the Internet Code of Practice.

She added: “The MDA values feedback from the public and investigates complaints on offensive content. If there is a breach, MDA will not hesitate to take action.”

This article was first published in The New Paper.

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