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How not to be a GWC - 10 tips to not being a creepy photographer

By Laughing Orc, written 1436882093.

We all know of them. If you’re new to model photography, you’re probably wary of the dangers of being thought of as one. They seem to be everywhere, infiltrating our ranks like a disease, making us all look bad in the process.

You know what I mean: ‘Those’ guys. The GWC - Guy With Camera.

When I started out in this industry, I was very wary of coming across as ‘that guy’ - I knew I wasn’t one, of course, and many of the horror stories I’ve heard from models have made me realise that I was never in much danger of being thought of as one anyway. But that didn’t stop me being a little cautious in my approach. So, I’ve compiled this (only slightly tongue-in-cheek) list of things to do to avoid being a GWC. Most of these are actual things that have happened to people I have worked with (and not things that I have done…)

Refer to people by their names

Okay, so the best of us sometimes have a mental lapse in the heat of the moment, but do try and use a model’s name (or her model name, at least) when you’re referring to her. Use of ‘babe’, ‘ gorgeous,’ ‘sweetheart’ or ‘hey, you!’ is not generally welcome.

Talk, don’t touch

There is generally no need at all for you to ever touch a model, except maybe to shake hands before or after a shoot. That doesn’t mean you should *never* touch a model, but there is really no need for you to make contact with her - if you need her to change her pose, talk her through what you want or demonstrate it (either with a picture, or yourself). If there’s a strand of hair going awry, ask her to move it. Don’t move it for her without asking, don’t put your arm around her when showing her the images on the back of the camera, and don’t poke her in the ribs with your finger. Squeezing butt or boobs is an invitation to a well-deserved sexual harassment court case.

When taking photos, be respectful

Actually, be respectful all of the time, but when taking a shot there is no need to do any of the following: 

  • Laugh 
  • giggle 
  • breathe heavily 
  • mutter
  • shout ‘phwoar’ 
  • comment on how much the shoot is turning you on 
  • whip your cock out  
  • grunt appreciatively 

Any and all of the above are weird, intimidating, uncomfortable, and, even more worryingly, actual things that have happened. Just don’t.

Use superlatives, not sexist comments

If you take a photo that you really like, don’t proclaim that the model looks ‘sexy’ or ‘hot.’ Use words that describe the image or complement the model’s pose - declare an image as ‘fantastic’ or ‘brilliant,’ even ‘beautiful’. If you start running out of superlatives, bring along a thesaurus, or do like I do and revert to random old-fashioned sayings. ‘Wicked’ is a good 90’s throwback. ‘spiffing’ is great for that retro feel.

Don't expect her to be naked all the time

Even if you’re shooting two topless sets in a row, don’t be surprised (or disappointed) if the model wants to put on some clothes between sets while you adjust the lighting or take a tea break. Not everybody wants to be naked all the time, and not all models who shoot nudes are naturists at heart.

Let the model bring a chaperone if she wants to

Not everyone likes having a chaperone around, and not all models feel the need to bring one, but if they request, don’t turn them down. Yes, having another person around on a shoot can be a bit daunting and can occasionally make things awkward if they insist on hanging around in the immediate vicinity, but it’s perfectly possible to do a great shoot with a chaperone around. Sometimes the fact that there’s a friendly face nearby will give the model a lot of confidence. And sometimes they make for a great portable reflector stand. If you refuse to allow a model to bring a chaperone, they’ll immediately wonder why, and you’d better have a good reason.

Don’t bring your own chaperone 

At least not without discussing it with the model first. When your model arrives at the local train station or such to find two guys waiting for her, she’s going to be a bit nervous if you didn't forewarn her.

Don’t ask a model for selfies, webcam sessions, video chats etc...

Okay, sometimes you might be discussing outfits in which case a few shots of the options is helpful, but generally, there’s no need for any of the above. By all means chat to a model on the phone before a shoot, but don’t expect her to go on cam for you. It looks, sounds, and most likely is, very dodgy.

Don’t leave creepy comments on images

‘Nice ass’ or ‘I’d smash that’ are not appropriate comments, nor are comments about how much you wish you'd taken that shot where the model is staring dreamily into the lens with come-to-bed eyes. And if the shot is a closeup of a model with her legs spread, commenting 'nice concept' is not going to fool anyone.

And above all else...

Don’t be a dick

Don’t try to be funny, flirty, silly, or clever when you’re shooting with someone for the first time. Don’t make lewd jokes or inappropriate references. Treat the model as a customer or colleague and be professional and courteous at all times. A bit of light-hearted chatter and humour will always lighten the mood and help you both feel at ease, but there's a definite line that you should be wary of crossing.

Naturally there are exceptions, occasions when these rules don’t apply, and circumstances where these guidelines are going a bit too far. But if you want to avoid coming across as that creepy guy who is just looking for material for his own "bank", you could do a lot worse than following these basic tenets.


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