Thursday, March 27, 2008

Modelling tips: can I trust that photographer?

As a model, you will get to work with photographers. Most of them are nice people, sharing your goal: making great pictures. A small minority has other goals however. They are either after your money or your body. This article is not meant to scare you, it will merely provide you a few tips to help you keep safe. These tips can not offer you any guarantee, but they will decrease the risk of you meeting up with a ‘photographer’ with the wrong goals. Also remember to use your own judgement as well. If it does not feel right, it probably isn’t right.

A first sign that someone has the wrong goals, is that he or she is trying to avoid being tracked. A photographer that has no URL of his own or is reluctant to give you a fixed phone number or an address might be trying to hide something. It does not mean the person has bad intentions by definition though. Good reasons for not wanting to give out these details do exist, so it’s merely a sign to be careful, nothing more. Some modelling sites require photo-ID from their members. Although this is not a watertight guarantee either, photographers at these sites are easier to track and therefore less likely to have illegal intentions.

Always check a photographer’s portfolio. You should do that anyway, since you don’t want to work with someone that delivers crappy pictures, right? But it’s also good for your safety. If the photographer is a real photographer, he or she is more likely to want to make nice pics than anything else. Also check for remarkable style difference, which may (I emphasize: may) be a sign that the portfolio is not the actual work of the photographer. It’s a good sign if an online portfolio contains links to the models. It means the photographer is not afraid of you contacting those models, whereas someone with bad intentions would be. If you want to, do contact the models, they won’t mind. They also realize safety is important.

You may want to try to google the photographers name: bad experiences are likely to be discussed in modelling forums or blacklists. Obviously, someone with bad intentions is likely to work under different names, so again, no guarantee here.

If you receive an offer that seems to good to be true, it probably is. Don’t turn it down immediately, but do some extra checking. These offers are very likely to be scams.

Tell the photographer you will take someone with you. Again, there are good reasons for a photographer not to want that, and he or she might want to set conditions for your chaperone. Conditions are fine, but if the photographer seriously insists on not taking someone with you, be extra careful. Whether you really bring someone is up to you, just announcing a chaperone will often be enough to scare the bad guys away.

Discuss the shoot with your photographer by phone, chatbox or email. Does he suggest weird things or make sexual remarks? Be suspicious. While discussing the shoot, make sure your expectations match that of the photographer, both with regards to the content of the shoot as to the conditions on payment and/or delivery of photos.

Finally, when going to the photographer, take a contract with you and make sure someone knows where you are and how to reach you, just in case.

And let me emphasize again: most photographers are nice and honest people, and often even fun to work with. So don’t be scared, just be prepared.

More resources
More tips and further reading

About agency scams

Site dedicated to model safety

Article containing a helpful checklist

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