Time and time again I see something in my newsfeed about a model having a bad experience with a photographer. I myself have had a terrifying experience (as a model). When I decided to choose photography over modeling, I decided that I would help OTHER models not be a victim of predators in the industry and go through what I did (or worse). Not only have models had bad things happen in person, but online as well. I’m PRETTY SURE I was talking to a serial killer when this guy messaged me on Creep.com.. I’m sorry, Modelmayhem.com. He wanted me to model for him alone (no escort), on his boat, nude, spread eagle, in a crate… yeah, SERIAL KILLER. Which brings me to rule number one…
1. No Escort? No Model.
Period. It’s not even up for discussion. If they tell you that you cannot bring an escort with you, they have bad intentions. Do NOT go without someone coming with you. I always allow my models to bring whomever as long as they don’t interfere with the shoot. Some photographers may say not to bring your boyfriend/husband or girlfriend/wife, but this is somewhat legit. Photographers cannot deal with trying to create and flow with you if your jealous boyfriend is trying to take over the shoot. I’ve had this happen several times, so I suggest a female friend, or another model friend (who could model too). I HIGHLY suggest bringing another creative type, someone who can add to the shoot. Either way, do not agree to a photo shoot that requires you not to bring someone with you.
2. Make Sure “Nudity” Has Been Discussed
I’ve had several instances where the photographer would try to get me nude at the last minute while we were in session already. I wasn’t cool with it, and he didn’t push me too much more. Other friends of mine haven’t been so lucky. When you talk to the photographer about the shoot, make sure that they know where your boundaries are and STICK TO THEM. Don’t let them intimidate or wear you down . “No” means “Absolutely NOT!” and that’s where it stays. If they try to pressure you, the conversation needs to end. They’re not respecting you, or your body, or your image. If you’re not the kind of model that does nudes (or even if you do but you just don’t want to work with that person) and they try to pressure you, it’s disrespect. If you’re down with a specific amount of nudity, let that be known. Keep your boundaries intact.
3. Beware Of The Foot Guy
Yes, the “Foot Guy”. We’ve all seen him on Modelmayhem or in the model/photographer forums. He wants to shoot with you, but mostly he wants to shoot with your feet. If you’re down for that, that’s cool (charge him extra cause… screw him! Haha!). However, if you happen to find yourself talking to a photographer about a shoot and he starts to compliment your feet… BEWARE!
4. If It Sounds Bad… IT IS Bad.
So I told you about the time some creep on Modelmayhem asked for a nude shoot without an escort on a deserted boat in a crate… Did that sound like a good idea to you? Yeah see, that’s why I didn’t go. Read the message carefully. If they’re pressuring you for nudes, they want you alone, or you just get a bad vibe… whatever the case may be, don’t go. Your intuition is a powerful thing. Some photographers really are just creepy dudes with cameras. So you need to be careful about who you work with. Use your filters!
5. Ask A Model
Another good way to get a feel for the photographer before working with them, is to ask other models. Take a look at their work and talk to some of the models posted in their portfolio. If you her good things about them, then great! Your session will probably go very well all while having a good time. But, if you hear something odd about them, something that is inappropriate, don’t ignore the red flag. Which bring us to number 6…
There have been countless times where a model could have avoided a bad photo session just by listening to another. Victim blaming is a real thing, even in the fashion industry. If you hear the same thing from 3 different models about the same photographer, PAY ATTENTION! It might not just be idle gossip. If a model comes forward to you about a bad session, the worst thing you can do is not listen. They won’t feel heard and most likely won’t tell anyone else. And you will probably fall victim to the same thing (possibly with the same photographer).
7. Tell Others
If you already HAVE been violated by a photographer (either your body or just your general trust) you MUST talk about it. Keep others from that terrible moment. I didn’t want to talk about what happened to me at first. It took about a month for me to say something. I filed a police report and everything. Any model I know, I tell them who NOT to work with adding a brief description as to why. I didn’t want to talk at first because I blamed myself. But when I started putting the blame where it belonged and talking to other girls, they told me some stories about the same guy. What happened feels a little too personal to post up on the internet. However, sharing my experience with others (individually) has helped me a lot.
If you have any suggestions of your own or any questions you can always contact me! 🙂