An increasing number of girls in Vietnam, and Hanoi in particular, have chosen to earn money via what is still considered sensitive in this society: nude modeling.
Social networks and photography forums have been inundated with photos capturing pretty girls in nude postures in recent times.
The number of such nude models and photographers has been on the sharp increase.
Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper has recently launched an investigation into the thriving profession of nude modeling in Hanoi.
Linh Trang, 18, a well-known model in the capital, told the newspaper reporter how she was drawn to the nude modeling profession.
She began her career by posing for bridal gown photo shoots during her high school years.
Some photographers then asked Trang to pose for semi-nude photos and full-nude photos later.
“The pay was good but I only dared to pose for nude photos sometime later, as many already joined the game. However, my family is kept in the dark about my job, or they will forbid me from going on with it,” she revealed. Trang divulged many of her peers are thriving on the earnings from the job.
They also post such photos on their Facebook pages to further burnish their image, which can bring about more invitations and higher photo shoot pay.
“Confidentiality almost comes down to nothing, as most nude models do so to earn money and work with some photographers at the same time during a shoot. Several of my friends have their faces exposed on Facebook by photographers, but they are powerless to reverse the situation,” Trang added.
Huyen Trang, 23, who lives in Dong Da District and has won awards at some local beauty pageants, said that she and many other colleagues began their profession by posing for free nude photos.
She later fixed her own pay rates as more offers arrived.
“Though I don’t possess long legs, I’m quite photogenic and act well in front of the lens. Excluding make-up and traveling expenses, I now earn VND2 million [US$93] for each photo shoot,” Trang told Tuoi Tre.
The newspaper then came to see Nhung, 23, who resides in the northern province of Bac Ninh.
The girl seems to stand out from other models for her small stature and is a far cry from the sensual model in her visually striking nude photos, which became an online sensation last year.
She said that she has taken over 100 nude photo collections so far, and none have gone without incidents.
“In some cases I was sexually harassed by the photographers. In others, they would not give me the original photo files. Now I’m wise enough to sign contracts which include certain terms I want,” Nhung said.
Two models pose for photos in a lotus pond in Hanoi.
Nude model brokers
Most fledgling photographers seek the help from intermediaries to get to know and work with nude models.
Most intermediaries, also known as model managers, work at media companies by day and stealthily offer nude model services on their Facebook pages and by telephone.
The Tuoi Tre investigation revealed that they deduct certain sums from their models’ pay as go-between fees.
Many event organizers who advertise their promotion girl services on their websites and Facebook pages also introduce clients to nude models.
Promotion girls are the Vietnamese way to refer to trade show models.
They are physically attractive, long-legged women hired to drive consumer demand for a product, service, brand, or concept by directly interacting with potential consumers at product or service launching ceremonies or entertainment events.
Huong, a young go-between, has a large ‘reservoir’ of nude models who live in Hanoi, its neighboring provinces, and even Ho Chi Minh City.
“After having airfares deducted, a nude model from Ho Chi Minh City is generally paid VND3 million [$140] if she poses for a photo shoot in Hanoi. Those in the capital usually won’t take the shoots if they are paid below that rate,” she divulged.
Hang, a seasoned broker, offers both nude model and promotion girl services.
The taller and more experienced the girls are, the higher they are paid, she said.
What nude photographers have to say
Trung, 25, a fledgling nude photographer, told Tuoi Tre that all shutterbugs yearn to have a gorgeous, worthy nude photo collection during their lifetime.
“It requires perfect chemistry between a photographer and his models to create a commendable collection. I usually summon some other photographers to join my shoots so as to bolster the models’ trust and save me scandals,” he revealed.
Son Rau, a 27-year-old photographer who has been engaged in nude photo taking for six years, said the profession has taken on a bad reputation mostly due to the improper working approaches between nude photographers and their models, as most of them still work on casual verbal agreements.
One of his colleagues once caressed a nude model in a private room, leaving her accusing him of sexual abuse on several forums.
Some photographers post nude photos with the models’ faces distinctly exposed despite their advance requests not to do so, Son Rau added.
“There are also cases when nude models flirt with photographers and entice them into sexual involvement. If both sides act properly in the first place, no incidents would happen,” he noted.
Nude models are paid between VND2 million and VND3 million for each photo shoot, but some demand VND5 million ($233) or even higher, according to insiders.
A few young photographers also ask foreign girls in Hanoi to pose nude and pay them some VND6-7 million ($280-326) for each shoot.
Photographers tend to take photos with the same model during a shoot to cut costs.
Thai Phien, a noted nude photographer who has been nationally recognized for one of his nude collections, advised models to learn about photographers’ backgrounds and sign contracts to save themselves from undesired hassles.