Naked Subway: Art or Indecent Exposure?

(Zach Hyman/CBS)
Photo art by Zach Hyman (modified by CBS News).

NEW YORK (CBS/AP) Thirty seconds.

That's how long New York photographer Zach Hyman gives himself to photograph nude models across the city.

Fearing an arrest, Zach Hyman keeps bail money handy, brings a lookout for police and keeps his lawyer on speed dial. Creating the provocative images is technically illegal in New York, although the photographer says he has never been arrested.

"I'm doing it because it excites me and excites other people that are comfortable with their body," Hyman told Crimesider. "This is a little more innocent than a flasher. This picture is for me and the model."

The 22-year-old acting-school dropout has taken nude photos almost everywhere in the Big Apple, including Chinatown and the heavily patrolled Time Square, in which he strategically placed friends near oblivious officers. The models are unpaid. Hyman says they pose because they believe in the art.

During a recent shoot on a subway car, one woman screamed while an elderly man started to shake. But most passengers seemed unfazed, according to the artist.

An exhibit of 14 of his images opens Thursday, Aug. 20, at Chair and Maiden Gallery in Manhattan.

Hyman says he's inspired by nude paintings at the Met and insists his photos aren't pornographic.

"What I'm trying to do is disassemble the idea that nudity is pornography," Hyman said as he paused to take other press calls.

People's private parts, he says, are "one of the unifying aspects of being human."

Hyman snaps photos of male models too, but notes to the New York Post that photographing a woman in public is far easier than snapping a man.

(Facebook Photo)
Photographer Zach Hyman

"People see a naked woman and they smile," he said to the paper. "They see a penis and they freak out."

Hyman is fully aware of the illegality of his guerrilla style photos, but stands by his art.

"It's art because I'm photographing it," Hyman argues. "They are simply studies in the human body."

What do you think?