1- "You won't make it as a model if you don't pose nude."
Oh, FUCK. OFF. This is the biggest load of bullshit I have ever heard. This is just your way of adding a model to your spank bank. You are also the person that, if successful, will deliver every single god-damn image from the set, un-edited, un-culled and RAW. What the hell is a model supposed to do with 1,200 poorly-lit, un-processed photos of her boobs? Nothing, that's what.
Those photos belong in the trash.
I am not bashing on nude models, though. I actually used to be one (GASP, I know).
2- You refuse to let there be any written proof of correspondence.
If you refuse to use contracts, emails, texts, Facebook Messenger, IG direct messages, etc, you have an ulterior motive. If there is no 'paper trail', there is no proof that you said something inappropriate. I have had two models tell me that the same dude would only speak to them over the phone, and he ended up saying some really nasty shit. When they went to the public about his behavior, they were shot down for not having "proof". And blatantly refusing to use some type of model release is scummy as well. Sure, a model release protects you and your work, but it is to protect the model, as well. There is absolutely no excuse for you to not be comfortable putting something in writing.
3- You try to coerce a model to shoot something they are not comfortable with.
This is, in my opinion, the WORST thing you could do as a photographer. This is the kind of behavior that leads to assault, rape, or worse. This one kind of goes hand-in-hand with #1, but it is important enough to be its own topic.
If you are talking details about a shoot with a model, & you try to convince the model to shoot something that is not kosher with her, jump off a cliff. If you do this DURING a shoot, set yourself on fire and THEN jump off a cliff.
On a much more serious note, I actually witnessed this exchange IN PERSON, during a shoot. I reached out to the model and she was willing to share her experience with me. So, for now, I will let Sahara Harding (Hara) take it away.
“I guess I will start with the backstory. My first ever modeling test shoot was with this photographer, who we will call Chad (because when Google-ing “douchey guy names” this was a top contender on the first three links).
A friend of mine from my film photography class told me that I should start modeling, and had recommended Chad to me because she had been the second shooter/ understudy at a couple of his local photoshoots. Upon receiving the recommendation, I researched his work, finding that I liked his style, and decided to reach out to him. I soon heard a reply, stating that he and another photographer would be willing to do a test shoot. This was just the start of our relationship as model and photographer.
Throughout the next year, we worked together consistently, creating work that embodied who I was as an individual. This work was recognized by Amanda Diaz, a well-known fashion photographer, who Chad idolized. We created some images that I loved, but that wasn’t to say that there weren’t times that I was completely comfortable with conversations or photoshoots. As a young model trying to find my exact niche in the industry, I was more open to experimenting with different looks, styles, and genres, and this photographer highly encouraged this expansion.
Broadening my horizons, I sought out local photographers that specialized in these genres, especially commercial lingerie and swimwear, because like basically every model, I was obsessed with Candice Swanepoel and Victoria’s Secret. As I expanded my horizon and portfolio of work with other photographers, Chad got incredibly jealous pestering me that he could do all genres and to just work with him instead of networking with other creatives in the area. After posting stunning images of my shoot with a local boudoir photographer, Chad asked me to send him the photos through a DM on Facebook. I thought to myself, Now why would he need those? I replied that they were posted on my modeling Facebook and social media and if he wanted to see them he need only visit the postings. Chad persisted in asking me to send them to him personally. When I asked why, his only reply was “to have them.” At this point, I found the conversation uncomfortable and thought with no additional messages that it was over, but maybe 20 minutes later, Chad started with “compliments.” Now, I’ve always felt somewhat uncomfortable accepting compliments, so I ignored my intuition that this was weird and just said thanks to end the conversation there, thinking that it was probably my reading into the messages that made it weird.
I continued to work with other photographers throughout that year, including Mia, who I had originally met through Chad, because Mia had worked with him previously on numerous shoots. My modeling relationship with Mia blossomed through the year. One winter day, Mia contacted me for a shoot in the snow and told me that Chad would be the second shooter for her shoot, and that she would be the second shooter for his. I agreed to the shoots and discussed concepts and specifics with both photographers.
Both photographers met at my house so that we could travel together to Mia’s location first. Mia drove, I rode shotgun, and Chad hopped in the back seat. At Mia’s shoot, Chad looked disinterested in shooting Mia’s concept. He did little to help her, but instead kept suggesting outfit changes and that she shoot with his new strobes, which was not comfortable for her and would not produce the images she wanted. Because of his persistence, he had set up his whole lighting kit and insisted that Mia try it. Mia took a handful of shots using his strobes, quickly confirming what she already knew would not be the look she was trying to produce, and returned to her own setup, all while I stayed quiet and uncomfortable because of their exchange. I felt like Mia and I couldn’t get into our usual groove because of this. It then came time to follow through with Chad’s shoot. He chose not to scout for locations in the area, so thinking on her feet, Mia suggested her studio apartment, because all Chad required was a plain, neutral colored wall.
Mia dropped off Chad at his car so that he could drive to Mia’s because he was on a time constraint and would have to leave immediately after we got done shooting. We all made our way to Mia’s apartment; her and I speaking briefly in the car about the exchange that had gone down with the lighting during her shoot. We brushed it off as we entered her apartment, and Chad set up his gear.
One of the many concept images that were discussed prior to his shoot was a very tasteful topless image of a woman with arms covering her chest. The other images were edgy/ grunge style with a bra top and ripped jean shorts. Chad provided more direction than usual about my posing, asking me to pose in positions I found would be awkward on camera. He then emphatically suggested to move to the topless concept because “what we were doing currently wasn’t working.” This was 5-10 minutes into shooting. There took a bit of coaxing from Chad, because I had never done topless or implied nudity before. Mia tried to interject, “You don’t have to if you don’t want to…” but was interrupted several times by Chad. I said it would be okay if it was tasteful like the image I had shown Chad, and turned to the blank wall to remove my top, tossing it it to Mia. I covered myself with my arms and kept them close to my body. Suddenly, the mood from Chad’s end changed and all of a sudden, every image was “perfect and fabulous”!
Now that my top was removed, Chad then returned to controlling my posing, telling me to put both of my hands down. I said no, suggesting that I turn my back to the camera instead. He agreed, but it wasn’t 5 minutes until he suggested I put both of my hands above my head and face forward, which would expose my breasts. Feeling frustrated, I said no, yet again. Chad then tried to convince me that this would look “soooo good” and that to be anything worthwhile in the modeling industry, I would have to do shoots like this. Half naked and covering myself, I whipped around to face him and began to get hot with fury as I persisted in saying no, and that even if that was the case, I was not interested in that type of modeling. I was then met with an angry, “WHY?! JUST DO IT!” Mia and I stared at him shocked. He followed up with an only slightly less aggressive tone, “Just let me take them, and if you don’t like them, I’ll delete them off of my camera.” Tears welled up in my eyes as I lifted my arms. I just wanted to get him off my back. I didn’t even get off of the couch before I told him to delete the photos. Chad tried to reason, saying that I hadn’t even seen them yet, and he wasn’t going to delete them. I walked to him, demanding that I see him delete the photos, and I watched as he deleted each one begrudgingly.
Chad finally announced that he needed to go. He began breaking down his set, and I turned away, removing the over the knee boots I was wearing with one hand while I covered myself with the other. Mia brought me the sweater that I had been wearing when I walked in. Even with Chad’s sudden urgency to leave, Mia stated that she would be taking me home, and tried to speed up his packing. I retreated into the apartment bathroom to change, and Chad had left before I came back out.
Mia and I didn’t talk much the whole ride back to my home. As she pulled into my apartment complex, she addressed me, “Sahara?” I didn’t respond, but looked up. “I’m so sorry,” she said, tears in her eyes as well.
I sat crying in Mia’s car in the parking lot of my apartment complex.”
I would say this man’s real name in a heartbeat, but after Sahara and I broke off communication with “Chad”, he did everything in his power to destroy us, and I don’t want him raining down hell on us. This behavior traumatized Sahara so badly, that she ended up quitting modeling.
This is a BLATANT abuse of power, and is one of the biggest red flags there is. PERIOD.
4- You say inappropriate things before, during or after the shoot.
There is a fine line between what is considered appropriate conversation and what is creepy. It is vital as a photographer to give your model cues that they are doing a good job. Things like "That's so hot, baby" or "Fuck yea, just like that" are NOT good examples of positive cues. Things like "Beautiful!" or "Perfect!" or "Well done!" are fine.
Making comments about the model’s body are also not ok. She is not an object. Keep it in your pants.
5- You get mad when she shoots with other people.
Ok, back off, broseph. In case you forgot, models do this as a profession. Being clingy just shows that you have deep-seated insecurity issues, and possibly some sort of fucked-up possessiveness towards a model. You don’t OWN her. She’s a person, not a slice of pizza. A model working with other people means she takes her job/hobby seriously, and wants to get better and gain experience.
6- You set up a shoot with a model and conveniently forget to tell her you expect payment.
This one may not necessarily make you a creep, but it makes you a piece of shit. Dishonesty gets you absolutely nowhere. If a model reaches out to you to collaborate, you set up an amazing shoot, she shows up, blows you out of the water, and then you ‘hold out your hand’, I hope she bites it off. There is nothing wrong with expecting payment (I do), but you need to be upfront RIGHT AWAY. Let her know what your rates are. Chance are, she will pay. If not, no harm done.
On the other hand, if YOU ask a model to shoot, she agrees, and you STILL expect payment, you are literal scum. That’s like going to your hair stylist and making them pay you to do your hair. Just stop.
7- You flirt with your model or ask them out.
There is literally no need for an explanation for this one. JUST DON’T FUCKING DO IT.
8- You tell models they aren’t allowed to bring someone along.
This one is definitely up for debate, but the general consensus is: if you straight-up tell a model she is not allowed an escort, alarms will sound in her head. I’ve heard the argument that photographers don’t like escorts because they can be “distracting”. I get that. There’s nothing worse than a boyfriend giving you the stink-eye the entire time. But, if you are a true professional, isn’t your model’s comfort more important than yours? If she feels comfortable and safe because there is someone there, it will reflect in the photos, thus giving you a better product.
And if the escort really is THAT distracting, you could kindly ask them to leave. At least you gave the model and the escort the benefit of the doubt.
9- You don’t deliver images to the model.
This one also doesn’t necessarily mean you are a creep, but it sure as hell makes you an unprofessional asshat. If you pay the model and don’t deliver, that’s one thing. She got what she needed: $$$.
But if she agreed to a trade and you don’t cough up SOMETHING for her, that is a smack in the face. Trade shoots are for the MUTUAL BENEFIT OF BOTH PARTIES.
SAY IT AGAIN FOR THE PEOPLE IN THE BACK.
10- You have an ego the size of Manhattan with nothing to back it up.
Acting like your shit don’t stink is a douchey thing to do, regardless of a good portfolio. But if you act like models should kiss the ground you walk on, and your portfolio is literal shit, you just need to put away the camera for good.
11 - You touch your models without permission during a shoot.
Building trust with a model is absolutely necessary to achieving the perfect shot. A model’s personal bubble is her safe space, and if you pop it without her permission, I can guarantee she will never work with you again. It takes time to build up trust to the point that you can adjust a stray hair or bra strap without raising alarm. Don’t just rush towards her, gung ho, with the hopes that she will be a-ok with it. Don’t be surprised if you happen to find a foot making contact with your gonads that way. Models are on high alert (rightfully so), so please, just be respectful and use some common decency.
Along these same lines, nude models are not up for grabs. Having a beautiful, CONSENTING naked woman in front of your lens is an honor, and does not denote some unspoken rule that you get to touch her to your heart’s desire. A nude model deserves the same respect and privacy as a fully-clothed model. Don’t be a Trump.
12 - You take photos or film her while she is changing.
Yes, you know who you are. I am looking at you. WHY THE FUCK ARE YOU LIKE THIS. If you do this, you deserve to be in jail, you piece of shit. No explanation needed for this one, either.
13- You incessantly pester models to work with you.
Sorry, but this shit ain’t cute, and it sure as hell isn’t flattering to the model. It’s annoying as hell. If a model doesn’t respond to you, she either 1- Hasn’t seen your message, or 2- Doesn’t want to work with you. Blowing her up 10 times a day isn’t going to make her read your message any faster, OR make her want to work with you any more. Also, I can’t believe I have to add this, but messaging a model several times in the middle of the night (or day) to get her to respond to you is clearly defined as harassment. Don’t believe me? Here, let me get you a dictionary.
So I can hit you over the fucking head with it.
And LAST, but CERTAINLY not least:
14 - You give your models pet names/nicknames.
This behavior is usually the first red flag models have when dealing with GWC’s. It’s the first bad gut feeling they get about you. Unless she is your wife, girlfriend, sister, mother, etc, pet names make women really uncomfortable. It’s basically another version of street harassment. I like to compare pet names to the feeling of nails on a chalk board. Calling a model “hun” or “babe” or “sweetheart” makes them cringe, because you are debasing them and condescending them. Models have names; use them, for fuck’s sake.