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Model Safety

By Jerome Razoir, written 1445700361.

There are many people in the world of modelling and photography who are extremely nice people but sadly we have to acknowledge that a small minority are not. It can be very hard to identify the nice people from the nasty people. This article is intended to help you do that. It can not be entirely accurate but adherence to the following principles will make a you a lot safer than you would be without.

There are three areas in which you must safe-guard yourself.

  1. You physical well-being. It may well be that the statistics for being indecently assaulted are such that you are at much more risk in a night-club than you are in a photographic studio but that should not mean you stop being careful. Always examine the photographer's references. Contact some of the models who have left references, using the PP message system and ask them directly what their experience was. Use your common sense. If your instincts tell you this is wrong then go with your instincts. You are always absolutely entitled to decline a shoot offer and do not have to give a reason.

 

What may happen on a shoot that I will not like? The photographer may make suggestive remarks, he may try to get shots that you have said you will not do, he may touch you inappropriately, he may try to persuade or even bully you into upping you levels.

Most of us understand the difference between banter and verbal harassment. The sensible photographer will be wary of offering any banter as he is aware of the possibility of it being taken badly. A few will go well over the top.

He may try to get shots down your blouse or up your skirt without either your knowledge or consent. This may not be obvious to the new model whose understanding of the camera's capabilities are limited but it will usually be fairly obvious. Do not stand for it.

The old maxim in shooting is Never Touch The Model. That is a little ridiculous in many cases. I always touch my models: I shake hands with her when she arrives and I shake hands with her when she leaves. What I do not do is touch her inappropriately and what is appropriate and what not is very easy. If I would not do it in a normal social situation (like shaking hands) I do not do it at a shoot. If a stray hair needs to be brushed of the model's face. She can do it. If the hem of a skirt needs to be moved, she can do it. I always double the personal space I would usually use when photographing a model. If I (rarely) find a need to enter that space, especially if I am wanting to adjust a garment that for some reason the model can't do, I SAY WHAT I WANT TO DO AND ASK FIRST. You are entitled to say 'no'. Indeed, I tell my models that they are required to say no if that is what they want to say.You should never feel physically intimidated by a photographer's presence.

If he touches you up that is assault, probably indecent assault. It is a crime and should be reported to the police as well as to the admin. Team at PP.

Upping your levels is a phrase we use to cover the case of a photographer asking you to do a shot that includes more nudity (for example) than has been previously agreed. You may be happy to shoot topless but do not want to take your pants off. That is a 'level'. You have agreed to shoot 'up to topless'. You should expect the photographer to respect that. If, part way through the shoot, he asks you to do nude (whatever his excuse is) that is 'level pushing' because he is asking you to shoot at a 'level' that is 'higher' than agreed. You need to exercise a little common sense. “If you ever change your mind about doing nudes, please let me know because you could produce some excellent work”, is not quite the same as, “If you do not take your knickers off I can't pay you. It is ridiculous you not doing nude. You won't get anywhere in this industry if you do not work to nude.” is rather stronger. I have had models who have said to me that they think they might like to do nude and they have said it part way through a shoot where nude was not in the agreement. I usually send them away to come again another day so they can think it through. I do leap in and do nudes straight away.

All of the above also applies to adult work, of course. There is no substitute for detailed, explicit and clear discussion leading to a mutually fully understood agreement. That applies if you are modelling lipstick or sex-toys!

 

  1. Your financial safety. There is a classic confidence trick. An advertisement appears looking for models and offering open auditions. You go along. You are interviewed and have a few photographs taken. You are then taken aside and told that you are the best thing to hit modelling since Eve put on a fig leaf. The world is your oyster, you are going far, you are amazing.... Well you get the picture. The only thing you need now is a good portfolio and a few introductions. Then comes the hard sell. They will say something along the lines of there is a special offer, one day only, you must sign by this evening of only... wait for it...£3,500 for a top class, leather bound portfolio that even God would be proud of. Of course they say this to everyone who turns up. They would even say it to me! They use the kind of high pressure sales techniques that time-share people use and they bully and harass until you cave in. The portfolio, if you get it at all will be poorly shot and worth, at best, £30! If an agency ever asks for money, tell them they may deduct it from your earnings at the rate of an extra 15% of your fee for each booking until the debt is cleared. If they say they can't do that, then ask them why you should sign with them if they have no confidence that they can get you work. Ask for their company registration number at Companies House, for their registered office address and for their VAT number. Better sill. Have nothing to do with such people. You can put together a portfolio without paying out any money at all. Though, it is true that you may do well to consider hiring a photographer for his normal fee but then you are in control. Also be very wary of contracts that tie you in. No one who is respectable will ever expect you to sign a contract without getting it check by your solicitor first. The good guys will encourage you to take it away for examination.

  2. Your emotional and social safety. Once it is out there, it is out there and it will never come back. A nude photograph taken today will be available for your children, your grandchildren and you great grandchildren to see. So do not do any shoots that you are not happy for your parents, you boyfriend, your employer to see. Consider that some professions see modelling as sordid (wrongly in the main) and will not accept you if you have a history of modelling. Especially nude modelling. If you want to be a teacher, a nurse, a police officer, etc. then a history of nude modelling may stop that happening. Consider how it may impact on your partner. Some love it. Some hate it. There are some very odd control freaks out there. Only you can decide which is more important to you: Wayne or modelling.

 

Do all your communications via PP Messaging system If you have mobile 'phone conversations as well. Get into the habit of confirming what was said in the 'phone call with a follow up PP Message. That way there is a paper trail and agreements that are in dispute can be settled. Save all texts but remember that in an emergency voice may be better than a text.

Use the reference system and that includes giving bad references (when deserved of course) as well as good ones.

Meet strangers in crowded, public places. A coffee shop is much safer than the alley round the back of the abattoir! Have some one call you on your mobile part way into the shoot. Tell the photographer this will happen. Keep your mobile fully charged and close by, you may need it.

There is a raft of stuff on PP about chaperones. Read some of it. It is the most contentious issue in modelling. Use your common sense and follow your instincts. Some photographers forbid chaperones for very good reasons. Some forbid them so they can take advantage of you. Check references and be sensible.

BE SAFE ABOVE ALL ELSE.

I may want to photograph you one day and you are no use to me if you have been reduced to a nervous wreck or are on a mortuary slab. Well, actually I did that once for a gore shoot but she got up and walked away after!

ENJOY IT. IT CAN BE GREAT FUN AND YOU WILL MEET A LOT OF VERY LOVELY PEOPLE.

Jerome Razoir

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