As an artist and avid lover and appreciator of artists and their fantastic works, I find myself lucky enough to also call many artists I know, friend. It’s after a conversation I had with one
Modeling comes in many forms and is done for a multitude of reasons. For instance, I usually only work with artists I know to create single pieces or collections of work based on those collaborations. For example, a photography shoot with and/or so an artist like Lente, or HourGlass Imagery, can base a new piece or set of pieces around them. And this is where safety comes in, whether you know your collaborators well or not. In the end, it keeps all parties safer.
I don’t work with many photographers, and often know the ones I do, and work with them more than once if we work well together. Modeling is not my trade, but art is. Regardless though, I do all I can to be safe and as comfortable as an introvert can possibly be. Here are some basic things to remember to model safely (for all involved):
Research and references-The two R’s, if you want to be catchy and if it helps you remember. When opportunity arises, you should research who you’re working with, and where you’re working if you are unfamiliar with the location or area of a shoot. You can also get a sense of what their work is like. Also, if you haven’t worked with a certain photographer before, it’s good to ask other models they’ve worked with, particularly ones you know. Having others vouch for a photographer’s respect, professionalism, and work is a huge deal and carries weight. References are great to have.
Bring a chaperone/escort- This is a number one rule for me, especially if I have not worked with a certain photographer before, do not know the person well, depending on the location of the shoot, or comfort level and wardrobe of the shoot. A chaperone or escort is generally a friend or colleague, someone you know and trust to be a quiet observer assuring your safety and comfort level, and a photographer’s reputation. Some photographers will say they don’t allow escorts because they may be a disturbance, and if that’s their answer, you should walk away. It’s up to a model to decide if they want someone with them, for whatever reason, and no one should tell you otherwise. I personally question anyone actually telling you that you aren’t allowed to bring someone to assure your safety.
Make sure someone knows what you’re doing- If you decide not to bring a chaperone (perhaps because a shoot is out in public or not in a closed or studio setting), you should at least be sure that someone knows where you’re going, when you’ll be there, and a time they can expect to hear from you to check in, and someone you can call in case of an emergency. In the age of social media, many models announce their shoots on their pages, but it’s still a good idea to be sure someone you know and trust has a few more details, like an address and timing. If you end up carpooling or traveling with someone else, take down license plate and send that and info about the car to whoever you’re checking in with. Better to be safe.
Details ahead of time- Photo shoots that are done well take time and planning ( though not always, there are sometimes some sensational impromptu photo shoots, but those usually happen with someone you know and not someone you just met who happens to have a camera and claims to be a photographer). Generally speaking though, when working with a photographer you’re planning to shoot with, there is a discussion before the shoot where details are shared and gone over. These include what the purpose or inspiration of the shoot is, what is desired or expected of model or photographer, what wardrobe will be and who provides it, make up or use of a make-up artist, and location and time of the shoot. Sometimes more, sometimes less, but usually these all make their way into the conversation before the day of the shoot. The amount of detail and planning can radically differ from photographer to photographer, or shoot to shoot, but some things should be established ahead of time, wardrobe being a big thing, or more accurately, lack thereof. Some less than reputable people posing as photographers will sometimes try to convince a model to take off a bit more, or give a few of ‘these’ a try, etc. or otherwise go beyond what a model signed up for, often with a lot of pressure, guilt, or shame. Which leads to my next point…
Stick to your guns- Don’t ever compromise your desires or comfort in the moment to appease a photographer (or anyone) that tries to get you to do more than was discussed or something that you don’t feel comfortable with at the time. Keep to what was discussed before your shoot, and what feels right to you. Some great things come from shoots where model and photographer work together and are comfortable with each other. But, if you decide for any reason you don’t feel comfortable with a situation or how a shoot is going, then trust your instinct and stick to your guns. Say something, remove yourself from the situation if you need to, whatever you need to feel safe.
Bring these with you- charged phone and a charger; your own water and medicine (such as Tylenol, Advil, etc,), it’s safer to have your own than to take something from someone you don’t know well; mace/pepper spray/ other deterrent, because honestly, you just never know, but know how to use it; some cash and debit/credit card, along with your license, even if you aren’t driving (if those three things haven’t been ingrained to you by your mother), so that you always have a back-up way to get home.
The point is to enjoy the work that you do and that is created from that, and to get home safely without compromising your comfort level. Be safe, and create something beautiful!