I recently had a young lady who’s new to the modeling scene tell me about a photoshoot where a male photographer was completely inappropriate. Now, before I continue and the haters start to comment let me say this … I firmly believe both male and female photographers can be creepers. However, I have heard way more stories involving male photographers than women.
There I said it! I am over the creepy photographer people!
That being said this particular article is geared toward you, Chris. Yep, I said his name.
Here are a few helpful tips for your next photoshoot.
Communicate via email
Email communication should be your only form of communication. You do not need to text models unless they ask you to do so. The key is they ask you for your number to text, not the other way around.
If they are under the age of 18, your communication should be with their legal guardian. If your model does ask you to text her, then you should only do so when sharing information about the photoshoot.
Bring an assistant
If you are a photographer who works alone, suggest the model bring a friend or their boyfriend or girlfriend. If they are 18 years or younger, have them bring their legal guardian.
Additionally, find another female photographer or assistant to help you. And yes I said female for a reason I’ll get to below.
Simply put, there is never a reason to be alone with a female model.
We have all been there during a photoshoot when some piece of hair gets out of whack, a shirt gets twisted and something on the model needs adjusting. Limiting physical contact with your female model is not only protection to her but also to yourself. Sexual harassment is real and you do not know what each model is comfortable with. One wrong brush or slide of your hand and your career could be over.
If you are unable to get an assistant or a friend of theirs to tag along and something needs adjusting, ask the model to adjust it. Have a mirror on hand or a bathroom where they can go and privately adjust their shirt, bra, pants, etc. If it is a quick fix and something outside of the red flag zones (meaning breasts, butt or crotch area) that needs adjusting, politely ask if you can fix it. Here’s a few prompts:
- “You have a hair that is out of place. May I fix it?”
- “The sleeve on your shirt flipped up. Are you comfortable with me adjusting it?”
Do not assume that little minor adjustments such as hair being out of place won’t make them feel uncomfortable. Every person has a different range when it comes to personal space.
A female assistant
Now back to my comment about having another female photographer or assistant on set with you. It can be intimidating for a model — especially someone young — to walk into a room and be the only female on set. The same goes for men. Being in a room full of the opposite sex and a photographer telling you what to do and how to do it can be scary. When in those situations, your model might not feel comfortable. Your job as a photographer is to make your clients feel comfortable.
When it comes to asking for an assistant, I cringe when I see people post online they are looking for an assistant. Your assistant shouldn’t be someone you just met! They are an extension of your business. They are representing your brand. What if they are a creep?!? What if they say or do something inappropriate?
You are the one that will get in trouble. You’re the one with the career on the line. Do not risk it.
Check your language
One of the other ways I feel as if men are inappropriate on set with models is their language. I understand that sometimes communicating what you are wanting from a model when it comes to posing can be difficult. Getting them to express a certain feeling or emotion.
But at no time EVER should you say give me a “sexy look,” “pretend your boyfriend/girlfriend is over there” or the worst one — “start touching yourself.” Don’t say “spread your legs apart” or “squeeze your boobs with your arms.” And yes, I have heard all of those be used. It is all creepy!
My rule when it comes to talking to someone is if you wouldn’t say it to your mother, don’t say it at all. Comments and directions like those are not appropriate and will get you in trouble.
When working with models, I recommend always mimicking your desired pose. Show them the look or feel you are going for. Have some inspiration photos on hand. Show them one and then tweak the pose to fit their personality and your style. I always like to demonstrate the desired pose I am wanting for my model that way they can visually see what I trying to communicate.
Advice for models
Now before I wrap this rant up, let me end with this. Female models — please do your research beforehand. Stalk the crap out of the guy photographer. Ask past models for feedback. Check their website and social media pages to see if the posing is appropriate for you. Ask him if he will have an assistant. Bring a friend! Discuss your boundaries before.
Remember “no” is an answer and one that should be respected. Most importantly, please remember that if anything happens that is inappropriate or wrong, report it to someone.
I understand that this is a touchy subject, one that will probably cause the comment section to go a bit crazy. But keep in mind this. I do not think all men photographers are creepy. And I do think some women photographers are creeps. Regardless of gender, it is something that should be talked about because it is happening way too much.