We have heard in the news recently about a model who attended a photography shoot expecting a great session, but instead ended up being kidnapped and sold into sexual slavery. While it may seem like a script in a Hollywood movie, it is a very real and very present danger that both men and women face when working in the creative industry. We must remember that models who are just starting out in their career often have no images in their portfolio and will do just about anything to get great images to show off their style and experience. This puts models in great danger, especially when they’re young or under the impression that they are being well represented by their agency.
As a photographer who uses models often, I wanted to ensure that I provided my tips for ensuring everyone is safe when on a photography shoot. This goes for the photographer as well, especially as the rise in photographers being robbed on location is becoming more and more prevalent in the news as well.
Communication is key so ensure you follow this simple checklist before heading out on your shoot.
Google Them: Google your photographer/model. If they have any history then the results should be a great indication of their past and will give you an understanding of any positive/negative reviews or comments. If you don’t see any results and the photographer/model tells you they have experience then question heavily what this is and make sure you’re happy with the response. No history in Google is a massive RED FLAG!
Question Them: Question your photographer/model. What type of lighting or setups will be used and why? What styles are you going for? What makeup will work best? If your photographer has any experience then he/she will be brimming with excitement and great responses and be happy to answer the questions. But if all you’re getting is “anything works, just bring lots of lingerie!” then think long and hard as this photographer definitely needs more researching.
Get Examples From Them: You absolutely must get examples of their work. Now you may not get physical copies, but websites, portfolios, facebook posts, Instagram, these all help you decide if they fit your style and what you would like to achieve. Remember, boudoir images could mean anything from pretend nudity right through to full frontal. Portraits could mean glamour modelling in tight fitting swimsuits or fashion might mean a Playboy centrefold. Make sure everyone is aware of exactly what to expect from the shoot.
Meet Them: Before the shoot takes place, make sure you meet them first. This is the only thing that will provide you with a sense of safety. Meet in a public place such as a coffee shop. If they say no, or there’s no time, then say thank you and move on. No amount of reward is worth risking your own safety. A professional will always make time to meet you as they will want to see if you’re right for them as well.
Don’t Be Alone With Them: If you don’t have history with the model/photographer then bring someone with you. Never feel that you can’t as if they are genuine then they will want everyone to feel comfortable and relaxed. But remember this, if you’ve met them and have built up any relationship but you still feel you can’t be alone with them, then maybe you shouldn’t be with that person at all.
Talk To People About Them: Talk to other models/photographers who have worked with the in the past. Find out how they felt about spending time with them. Mention that your starting out with them and ask for some honest opinions or advice.
Get Contact Details From Them: If they want to build/continue their professional career then they will be happy to provide you with more than just an email or mobile. Get a registered mailing address, landline number if available and make sure you give this information to someone you trust in case they need to contact them. This also means that you should always ensure your mobile is with you and charged. If the shoot is taking place in a building such as a hotel or house, then get the contact details of the location as well.
When you’re starting out as a model/photographer it’s tricky to get experienced photographers/models to work with you. As a result you end up working with less experienced photographers/models who don’t always have a strong reputation in the industry or a lot of testimonials. Be smart and spot the frauds long before you organise anything.
Remember most of the photographers/models out there are just trying to get experience with photo-shoots just like you are, they have no ill intent and most go through a career without incident at all. These pointers are there to give you the best possible chance of a successful shoot and highlight some things to look out for when starting out.