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Submitted on
January 25, 2009


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As a model, I have had the chance to work with some talented and genuinely nice people. But every once in a while, you have a shoot which doesnt quite go to plan. So what happens when you have those 'eek' moments? Where do you go to find out how to deal with it?

Over the past year ive had a few of those 'eek' moments, and I wish I had had the advice of others to help me deal with the situations.

So I've decided to write a news article on what I've learnt, and hopefully it will help you too :)

please note, this is is solely from personal experience. I am not telling you what to expect, or how to act, im merely letting you know how I dealed with these situations.

Over-Friendly Photographers/Stalkers

A photographer calls you to shoot. You arrange everything, you turn up, shoot, recieve payment and go home. Maybe email/sms a 'thanks for a great shoot!' to the photographer that evening. Fine and dandy. A bit of polite chit chat never goes amiss when you cross paths either.
But there are some people who think a first shoot is similar to a first date. I've had a photographer suddenly think we were bestest buddies after we have shot for the first time, suddenly thinking I need to know every detail of their life, and that I must indulge them with every minute detail of mine in return. After a little while, they started to try and run my life, even going as far as tracking my movements online. Friendly? No. Stalkerish? Yes.

What about internet over-friendliness? What do you need to know about me? My name is (name), I am (age) old, I live in (city) and I am interested in (type of modelling). Its as simple as that. You dont need to know know my exact address, the names of all my immediate family members or my favourite childhood pasttime.

What To Do
This was a really invasive problem, and took alot to sort out. The solution? Cut all contact with the person. Block their phone number, delete the emails and make sure your passwords are safe. Make sure you keep a copy of the emails incase it gets serious.
But what if you cant ignore it? If you're being pressured or threatened, a simple, straight-to-the-point email saying 'I'm uncomfortable with the way you are acting, please dont contact me anymore' will suffice. Any more contact from them should be promptly ignored. It doesnt matter how good their photos were, or how much they paid, this is instantly made redundant once they start acting creepy.
If you start to recieve emails or phonecalls that are threatening in anyway, its time to get the big guns involved.

As for 'overly chummy' people (an internet frequent) if its nothing short of annoying when people use your real name to pretend they know you properly. Many models use false names or nicknames to hide their identity. If you manage to come across a model's real name, good for you, but a lot of models are uncomfortable with people knowing their real names. The pseudonyms help us keep the different aspects of our lives seperate!  if you've just came across a model's pictures and didnt even know they existed until 5 minutes ago, dont try to get too friendly. Chances are the model will feel uncomfortable with you using their real name, or doesnt want people to know who they really are . Who a model presents to the camera is completely different to the model on her days off. Models give themselves nicknames for safety reasons, not just for giggles.

No Release Form

The model-release form. A written agreement between model and photographer regarding where photos go, how much is paid, copyright, etc. All good for all parties involved.
But what happens when a photographer doesnt supply a release form, and then starts to submit your work to galleries/sells it on to other people?I've found some of my photos in the most obscure places, some which would make even me blush! But without an agreement signed beforehand, who gets what?

What To Do
if you find that a photographer is making a profit off your work, and a release hasnt been signed, speak up! Without a release signed, technically you own half the rights to the photos, meaning half of the profit (i've spoken to a lawyer-friend of mine, and this is the answer they gave me). Of course, you may all have different opinions of the outcome of this scenario, this is merely my personal experience.
Now, this may simply be a case of 'silly me, I forgot the release forms, my mistake' and everything gets sorted and everyone is happy, or it may be a case where the photographer blatently refuses to hand over your share of the rights. In this case, if stating what rightfully belongs to you doesnt get you anywhere, then its time to get a lawyer involved. Its always a good idea to ask the photographer about model releases before every shoot, so you know up front what to expect.

Pressure To Put Mediocre Pictures In Your Gallery

some seasoned models will happily tell you of shoots where the product has failed to meet standards. It doesnt mean we're being snooty, we just dont believe our portfolio will benefit from your style. But what if you do a mediocre shoot, and find yourself being pressured to put these pictures in your portfolio?
Ive had emails and messages, sent only moments after ive even received the image itself, saying 'why havent you put the picture up?', 'not even a thank you?!' or 'I cant believe how rude you are being'. What the hell? Eventually you find yourself posting the picture, much to your regrets, and even receive notes complaining about how its 'dragging your portfolio down'. You risk taking it down, and once again, receive a barrage of angry emails. Its a frustrating situation, but also a familiar one.

What To Do
normally a note, politely saying 'im sorry, but your style doesnt really match what im looking for' before a shoot is organised will help nip it in the bud. But if you cant turn people down, or the end result is not what you expected and end up in this situation, then once again, being polite yet to-the-point is the best tactic. 'im sorry, but im not sure these photos are strong enough for my portfolio'. At the end of the day, models get work based on their portfolio, and if your photo doesnt end up in the final cut, deal with it. It doesnt mean we dont like the photo, we just dont feel it is strong enough to nab us possible work. No offense, but thats how the cookie bounces. If we choose to post only one shot from the shoot, dont get angry, but we're more likely to get work if our portfolio shows diversity, than if all twenty photos are of the same rock in the same sepia tones.

Photographers Behaving Badly

Nearly every model you speak to will have had one bad experience at some point in their modelling career. Dont get me wrong, there are alot of fantastic and genuine photographers out there, but once in a blue moon, you come across a photographer who is less than savoury. Im the past year, I have been touched inappropriately, expected to think up concepts on the spot after travelling several hours to get the the shoot in the first place, expected to pay after the shoot has been organised, and been made out to be a liar. There isnt enough space on DA to go into detail, but if you're super nosey, note me and I'll spin you the yarn.

What To Do
In the case of photographers being too touchy feely, leave. No matter what the circumstances, tell them they have crossed a line, demand your pay and leave. You have no obligation whatsoever to stay. Simple as that. Make sure you warn other models too.
If you end up in a sticky situation, where you have hair and makeup but no concept whatsoever, politely remind the photographer that they were the ones to organise the shoot in the first place and it was their responsibility. You travelled to the shoot and prepared for it in order to shoot some content for you portfolio/their portofolio, etc. you didnt travel to the shoot or prepare for itall just to be put on the spot. Hastily thought-up concepts tend to produce less than acceptable photos, and neither party will benefit.If you turn up and find that the photographer expects you to pull concepts out of thin air, let them know that you paid for travel/hair and makeup, and they have failed to deliver on their part, and leave. There is probably something more productive to do at home.
Surprises arent always pleasant, especially if it involves details surrounding a shoot. I've organised a shoot, only to be told casually 'cool, these are my rates'. Woah woah woah, back it contacted me about shooting, not the other way around! Simply let the photographer know that you cant afford to pay them, and they should have been up front about the rates in the first place, and not lead you on to believe it was a TF* deal.
I've also been unfortunate enough to work with a photographer who completely strung me out and made me seem to be a liar (for full story, here you go -… the photographer made it seem like I was the one who had failed to meet the brief, and let the client label me 'unworkable'. Because of that, I now have no chance of working with this client in the future.
So what do you do? Completely cut the photographer out of the picture. Cancel any organised shoots with them and let them know that you dont intend on working with them again. If they are low enough to leave you stranded to save their own skin, chances are they will do it again. A leopard doesnt change its spots.

I'm not trying to say that something is guarenteed to go wrong with a shoot, or that you should expect the worst. I'm saying, be safe, and most of all, enjoy yourself! :)


Now please, I am not 'outing' anyone, nor am I bitching. I am merely passing on my personal experiences in the hope that others will find it useful.

If you are at all offended by anything in this article, I'm sorry, no offense was intentional. If you have any problems with this article at all, note me and I will be happy to discuss it with you.

Feel free to add to the list, i'm hoping to write up a second part to this article soon :) I look forward to hearing your feedback!
Add a Comment:
photographer1773 Featured By Owner Mar 13, 2010
I do nude photographic art from time to time as a photographer. I read your article and was shocked that you had experienced things like that... I suppose working as a loner and having a sense of decency has put me out of touch with the (rather depressing) truth of the way things are for models. I suppose what I can take from this is that I'm doing things the right way, but wow, a few bad apples...

As for some of the comments... I would get really upset if the model wanted to see every shot. It breaks artistic and creative flow. I don't even look at the shots most of the time, I just shoot and go. Chimping is only useful for fine adjustments, and if you don't know how to use your camera and you need to look at every pic, you shouldn't be working with a model.

I also would not work with a model who suggested videotaping the shoot. If you think you need to videotape the shoot to be safe, why are you working with me in the first place? Furthermore, as photographer, I have not given my consent to be the subject of a visual project, and I would get upset at the implications: that I'm that untrustworthy, and that it would be okay to presume that turning me into a model (in effect) when that wasn't the agreement would be okay. I've modeled before, and both the model's time and the photographer's time have value. If I am shooting you, and you are modeling for me, and we have a TF* going (or I am paying you) that would put the balance in favor of the model who is having the shoot visually recorded, even if I did not take personal insult to the implication of my personal standards of decency and honor when dealing with a woman, model or no! I also don't think a lot of pros would take to kindly to being videotaped during a shoot without being asked permission well in advance.

I suggest that models and photographers should do more of something I have found very useful. Meet in a neutral piublic place and perform an interview. Get to know eachother. Feel eachother out, share ideas, clarify what is and is not of interest, or acceptable. Share portfolios. Decide whether you are suitable for working together before you set up a shoot. That way you don't waste time, and the model can feel more comfortable working with the photographer. Makes sense to me.

I always encourage a chaperone for the model, until she feels comfortable with me. I have had a lot of trouble with "significant others", though... interfering, getting jealous over ridiculous things, etc. Now I don't allow significant others on a shoot.

It can basically be said to boil down to a matter of respect. Self respect as a photographer, who values his or her reputation, and respect for the model, as an artist, a living work of art, and a fellow professional.
Oni-Studio Featured By Owner Jul 4, 2011
Great comments, many models only see things from their side and don't take the photographers point of view. I agree with many of the authors comments, especially the stalking and inappropriate touching, but if a model refused to let me see her ID before the shoot in order to verify she was 18, all because she wanted to "hide her identitiy" she would be escorted to the door promptly!
gemma-vendetta Featured By Owner May 20, 2009
Superb article. Open and honest and so much better coming from a real-life experience!

Thanks for putting it up...
:D Gemma
Rnomad Featured By Owner May 10, 2009
Great Article. [link]

Sad to see in this modern soceity, we all have to take greater care to exercise common sense caution. (some times not so common sense)

Most experanced models would have a bad experance some time, even famous model have had some drama's but that should be the exception.

Making art photos should be a fun, exilerating experance.

My impression is the new starters would be at higher risk, and would benefit from advice from more seasoned models.

so i hoped people dont mind if i add my :twocents:

I think all models should discuss the photo shoot, concept and expectations with photographer before hand. so you dont waste each others time.

Set fees and shoot length ahead of time. (ive been known to get on a roll, with a concept, and want to keep shooting) lucky i had good friends, or college to practice with.

A model release form should be manditory, for any photos taken... period.
It needs to state the purpose and conditions of use, for the photo's taken. (Even for test shots, non commercial or portfilio work). This allows any model/photographer legal recourse, if the work does become commercially viable, it should be mutually beneficial. (you can DL a std release form from internet).

Consider signing up to an agency, even if your starting out. They would be able to advise your rights and handle the arrangements and payment. If its a casual thing or your starting out, think about going through local art school.

Take a chapron, even for your frends, its great way to share the experance. Please remember they shouldnt be a distraction.

Bring you own video camera to record/film the shoot, if you have concerns. I would to protect myself.

Nothing wrong with asking the photographer to see the photos. Or even to have a copy as part of fee arrangement.

A considerate, professional photographer (or pro in training) will provide some place reasonable for you to get changed in. Even a sheet hung across on a rope. A frend of mine went to a shoot, no nude, but outfit changes. The creep wanted her to change infront of him. Most of us dont really care about getting undressed, but that should be your choice. Trust still needs to be established.

And rember, not all "frendly" guys are creeps. I personally feel you need to establish some connection (cant spell repore) with the model, to bring the best out of his/her personality in photos.

Trust your instincts, if something dosnt feel right, mabe it isnt. Talk to the photographer though, it may be miscommunication.

:twocents: Finally dont be afraid to say stop, or enough, im not going to let you take that kind of photo, for any reason your not comfortable.

Hopefully it will deter the creeps.
dlandi Featured By Owner Mar 14, 2009
Excellent. Best of luck with your modeling career.
iBrick Featured By Owner Mar 1, 2009
Thank you for sharing professional problems to others.
christophervaughan Featured By Owner Feb 26, 2009  Professional Photographer
Hey Niansa,

This is a great article - I hope it's useful to people. I'm a photographer and I've not yet had any awkward moments with any models - but I often wonder if it'll happen.

I've done a lot of rope bondage shoots and it's one thing to arrange a shoot with a model and to check that she's cool with doing bondage - but then the shoot starts and I need to tie her up for the photos. I've done this enough to be "professional" about it but models won't know this in advance and the potential for an awkward situation is definitely there..

I'm frankly amazed at (and deeply impressed by) the confidence of the models I've been lucky enough to work with that they can walk into a stranger's house or studio, take their clothes off, and get tied up.


Of course, it's all about trust and I guess no one has yet felt they can't trust me (phew!).

Actually, now I think about it, the only shoot that went wrong for me was one model with whom I just had zero rapport. I don't know what it was but it was instant and I think it was mutual. We just did simple, glamourish nude shots but I have never used any of them because the whole shoot just felt wrong. Made me realise that I have an emotional involvement in the photos I take that I *do* use and this comes from the rapport I have with the model during the shoot. Or something.


I'd be interested if anyone had any comments about difficult bondage shoots they've experienced...
Sanebedlam Featured By Owner Feb 12, 2009
My take from the other side!

Bring and Escort....Not your bf unless he is friendly and used to shooting. I dont mean it in any creepy way but jealous bf's kill the mood of a shoot faster then alsmot anything. An escort however (a friend I have found other photogs or a model make great escorts as they understand the buisness at hand.) The escort keeps everyone safe and happy.

As for releases make sure you know what you are signing. I sit down and explain to models what rights they have to the pictures and what control they have. Make sure you know that if you sign that release signing over all rights the photographer isnt obligated to take down pics you dont like as you signed over the rights...

As far as creepy stalkers photogs check refrences. Personally I do tend to become friends with a lot of models I work with but hey this is my major hobby so models/photogs are the type of people I tend to hang out with.

Great article! Keep up the good work.
CharlesNissen Featured By Owner Feb 6, 2009  Professional Traditional Artist
Primarily a painter, I have little experience photograping models. I paint to slow to use live models, but I work off of photos just fine. With a digital camera I have been modeling for my self, but soon hope to have the money to pay models for my work.

Would a release form for photograping studies for paintings be the same as the normal release form? Is there a place online where I could download a standard release form? and Would the models pay be the same if the actual photos are not for publication?

Sorry if these question are stupid, but I don't want to start out as Cheap Creepy Stalker guy. Thanks for the great article!
BlackCatsAngel Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2009
I'm a photographer not a model, and I think even I've learnt from this :) Well written, and informative. Thank you for teaching me something new :D
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