The photography industry can be creepy and downright predatory, and that’s a fact. It’s an industry where young women can be taken advantage of and exploited, and it’s important to draw attention to it so people can be on the lookout. Some photographers will tell you that it’s uncommon, but that’s not true. Whenever I go to photography networking meetings or events, there’s always at least one photographer making highly questionable and suggestive comments regarding models, and it grosses me out. I’m not saying that the majority of the industry is that way, or even half, but there’s definitely enough people out there with ill intent who are posing as photographers that it’s a real problem. I’d like to be able to say that these gross people all suck at photography, and that you can spot them through their cheap work, but that’s not always the case. Some of them are excellent photographers with amazing portfolios, and you’d never expect that they would act inappropriately towards their models. From what I’ve seen, they’re the most dangerous. If a photographer is shooting all the time with a lot of models, and continues to get a ton of work, it’s easier for them to confuse a model with their harassment and make them wonder if it’s just normal. Well, it isn’t. Most of the models we’ve worked with have had at least one encounter with one of these sexually motivated impostors, and that needs to change. Below is our list of red flags that models should be on the lookout for.
5. Sexual Comments and Innuendo
If your photographer makes comments that make you uncomfortable, he’s crossed a line. Models have told us things photographers have said to them like “Wow, you look amazing in this photo, I just wish it was taken in my bed. Haha, just kidding.” and “We should shoot more often. Maybe just the two of us next time.” Statements like that are so gross, and there’s absolutely no reason for you to put up with it. If your photographer drops comments like that you should tell them to stop, leave the shoot, and let their coworkers know what they said. Our industry can’t correct the problem if we don’t know about it.
4. The Shoot Turns Naked
Creeper photographers will try to lure models in under false pretenses. They’ll arrange a shoot that’s supposed to focus on lifestyle or creative portraits, but as the shoot goes on they’ll slowly see what they can get away with. If you thought the shoot was for your Linkedin page, but your photographer keeps requesting that you take off layers of clothing, something is wrong. Don’t fall into the trap that the shoot is just getting more “artistic.” Chances are that if your photographer wants you to keep stripping down in front of his camera all in the name of creative vision, they’re trying to take advantage of you.
3. No Chaperones Allowed
If a photographer tells you that you need to go to a shoot alone, and that chaperones aren’t ok, watch out. That’s super creepy. Bringing someone to your shoot so you feel safe is totally fine, and it’s definitely a red flag if your potential photographer is trying to ensure that you show up alone. The only argument against chaperones is that they can distract the models, but if that happens at the shoot the photographer can just ask them to go in the other room or something. Sometimes that’s a valid request, I’ve had chaperones be really annoying and controlling, but I deal with it like a professional once they’re there. Never go to a shoot unless you feel %100 safe.
2.Won’t Take “No” for an Answer
When you tell a photographer that you don’t want to shoot nude, that should be the end of it. If they keep trying to change your mind with a bunch of “But you totally should, it will help your career!” nonsense, you should find a different photographer. Begging models to shoot nude is inappropriate and obnoxious, and you shouldn’t put up with it.
1. They Touch You
Photographers shouldn’t touch models in any way without their express permission. Period. Arm touching? No. Moving you into a pose? No. No to any contact of any kind without clearly asking you first. If I ever need to touch a model, like, to reposition a strand of hair, I say “I need to move a strand of your hair because it’s over your eye. Is that ok with you?” Then I do it as quickly as possible and get out of there. I can’t think of a single situation where it’s ok for a photographer to just start moving your clothes and body parts around without directly making sure that you’re ok with it. If a photographer is making you uncomfortable with being overly grabby and touchy, tell them to back up, and let them know that you’ll take care of whatever changes they need made. If it’s bad enough that you feel uncomfortable, are questioning your safety, or if that makes them angry and snotty, then you should just leave. Now, if you’ve already worked with a photographer before, and a platonic trust has already been established, that can be different. There’s models that we work with on a regular basis who I’ll quickly reposition without saying anything because they already know there’s no ill intent of any kind. A working relationship like that takes time though. No photographer should ever be allowed to skip that trust building period by claiming that they’re too busy to respect your personal space.
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