Intent of Nudity?

Photographers weigh in on the topless shots of Miss California Carrie Prejean

Carrie Prejean gets to keep her Miss California title, despite topless pictures that have surfaced.

Pageant rules state that such pictures can be grounds for dismissal. But pageant owner Donald Trump said the pictures are fine -- risqué -- but acceptable and, in some cases, “lovely modeling pictures.” 

The pictures that include nudity were accidents that occurred during a shoot with an unnamed photographer, according to Prejean. ,

"It's appalling a professional photographer would violate my trust by releasing unauthorized and inappropriate images taken in between posed shots, taken on a windy day, which I was unaware of," she said in a press conference.

Other reputable photographers who have done glamor shots say most shoots are preceded by verbal agreements between model and shooter.

"Before the shoot, you discuss what direction it will go -- if you're not supposed to shoot anything that's intimate or nude," said Sergio Fernandez, a San Diego photographer who has shot Gulls Girls calendars and worked with Fergie from the Black Eyed Peas. "If an accident happens, or the swimsuit moves, you get rid of those shots. You don't backstab the model. That's a bad work ethic."

Brevin Blach has photographed Victoria's Secret model Estella Warren and done catalog work for the Salinas, Despi and Bella Brazil bikini lines.

"There has to be a trust," Blach said. "Before anything gets out to the public, she should see them.... The model should know there's a possibility this could happen. But it's a question of ethics."

Fernandez studied the photos in question, with Prejean in a vest top and bikini bottom.

"It doesn't look like it was her intent to show nipples," he said. "It looks like a wardrobe malfunction. Those things happen all the time in professional shoots.... I don't know what agreement she and the photographer had. If he violated their agreement, though, he’s an ass."

Fernandez added that if the intent was to do a nude shoot, there likely would be many more photos and other poses in the nude.

Blach and Fernandez said a model release form is often not used, especially for young models. Written contracts are more common for more established celebrities and actors.

Photographer Tim Mantoani has shot the likes of Lance Armstrong, Kobe Bryant and Michael Jackson. In the case of shooting Jackson, he had to turn over all film used and every image taken of the pop icon. Mantoani said a photographer is only as good as his reputation.

"If it's felt that I can't be trusted, I'm not going to get work," Mantoani said. 

Ron Donoho, formerly executive editor of "San Diego Magazine," is a regular contributor to who covers local news, sports, culture and happy hours.

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