Archive | August, 2010

Safety First

16 Aug

I am regularly approached by photographers who want to work with me in some capacity, and in today’s world, I had to learn to figure out who was a safe bet and who was a creepy potential stalker or worse. Having come through my learning curve relatively unscathed, let me share a few quick pointers to any new or aspiring models out there.

1. Know how to spot a G.W.C.: In the world of art photography, you have three general categories of photographer – the full-time professional who makes his or her (although 98% of the ones I’ve come across are guys, and for the purposes of this post, let’s assume they all are) living as a photographer. Secondly, you have the semi-pro guy who earnestly wants to make compelling art. He may have a day job somewhere else, but his passion lies behind the lens. Lastly, we have the Guy With Camera or G.W.C. These folks run around with a digital camera and precious little additional equipment and have figured out that there are naiive gals out there who will take their clothes off if someone points a camera at them. Since digital photography has become more and more popular and simple, these guys seem to be behind every tree (usually in a trench coat). They put up profiles on legitimate modeling sites, and start emailing models. Usually, it’s the younger, less experienced girls who fall for this, but we’ve all been there. This brings me to the next point….

2. Location, location, location: If you are approached by someone like this, most likely they will flatter you and ask for a nude session at their home / hotel, etc. Now, this is not necessarily a bad thing in that many artists have home studios, but it can be a red flag in the uncovering of the G.W.C. A professional, freestanding studio is golden, but home studios are also potentially okay.

3. A visual: Be sure to ask him to show you samples of his work. I always, always do this before committing to anyone, no matter who they are. If I don’t like the art they produce, I figure we’ll not be a good match, and I politely decline. In order to save egos, my response is usually something like, “your work is interesting, but I don’t see me as a good fit for you. Thank you anyway and best of luck”. Don’t be pulled in by a big fee or flattery by a well-known photographer if his style isn’t for you.

4. Interview references: On sites such as ModelMayhem and One Model Place (among others), you are able to see who the photographer’s friends are and who he has worked with in the past. This is invaluable in finding out if he is professional in his work and attitude. Models will be happy to give you the scoop if you email them about a particular photographer. I had a bad experience early on in my career, and I was thrilled when I received an email from a girl he had asked to model for him. I told her the truth, and she was saved the same crap I had to contend with. Sadly, this guy’s work is beautiful, and I’d have worked with him over and over if he hadn’t been such a pig.

5. Notice dates: See how long he has been in the field. Someone who is semi-pro and has been working for the last several years is a sign that he’s legit. A guy with a profile and work history of only a few months will need further research.

6. Get the hell out: If you find yourself feeling uncomfortable for any reason at all during a shoot, you are completely within your rights to leave. You may have to forfeit your fee, but your dignity and safety are worth far more. You’re not only doing yourself a favor, but the creep may just realize that if he wants to be a true artist, he needs to treat the models with respect. Don’t remain where you feel unsafe!

I hope this is helpful to anyone who is starting out in the incredibly rewarding field of art photography. There are amazing photographers out there who are making fabulous works of art, and with a little savvy, you can have a wonderful career.

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