Whether you're a seasoned model or you're interested in your very first photo shoot I've put together these 6 tips that you need to know to keep you safe. It's no secret, photography is a saturated market. No matter where you live there are probably countless photographers in your area to choose from and although this diversity is great it makes it easy for a few bad apples to blend right in. In this article you will find all the red flags you should look out for when choosing a photographer.
1. Vet them with Instagram.
Any photographer you might work with will have an Instagram account and there is a lot you can learn just from their page. Look at this like a background check for potential photographers or really anyone you'll be meeting in person for the first time. This tip is the most important and lesser known of the group, so to keep this article short and sweet I address 5 questions you should ask yourself when using Instagram to identify a potential predator in another article - Vetting with Instagram.
2. Bring an escort.
Whether you’re a man, woman, boy, or girl, if you feel more comfortable bringing an escort to a shoot the answer should ALWAYS be yes. If the photographer gives you an excuse why you need to come alone that is a huge red flag. Other photographers will argue with me all day about this but there is no excuse. If you feel uneasy don’t hesitate to bring someone with you, just make sure it’s not someone who will distract you.
3. Google them.
Any professional photographer will not only have Instagram but a website. You won’t find reviews on Instagram but you will find reviews on Google or yelp if they are legit. If you can't find any reviews by googling them that's a huge red flag.
4. Ask for references.
As I mentioned above I suggest contacting models they have worked with on Instagram but if they don’t have an Instagram ask them for references, people they’ve worked with that you can contact. Preferably multiple.
5. Know what's to be expected.
What you both expect should always be discussed before the photo shoot that way there is no surprises in the moment. If shooting nudes or in your underwear was never discussed before the shoot it is extremely unprofessional for the photographer to try to persuade you to do so.
If your photographer is pushing you to do some thing you don’t want to do and you feel uncomfortable you have every right to leave immediately. And if you didn’t drive you can always pretend you’re texting your Dad but really hail a Lyft and then pretend you need to take an important call from your Dad and walk out. Say some thing loudly like “Dad hold on I have to get somewhere quiet what’s going on!?” and wait for your driver to show up.
6. Check the local black list.
Most big cities like Portland will have a list of photographers who’ve been blacklisted for being inappropriate with their models. The photographers on these lists have had multiple complaints and should be avoided. These can usually be found in your local modeling safety group on facebook.
7. Drive separately.
Many photo shoot’s will require a drive, sometimes over an hour each way so unless you know and trust the photographer drive separately and if they persistently insist that you drive together this is a huge red flag. A predator will always suggest you drive with them.
8. Tell someone where you're going.
Always tell someone where you’re going and who you're shooting with. Send the address and time frame to a friend or family member so they know where you’re going what you’re doing and when. In a future post I'll discuss how you can send your current GPS to anyone. It's not a bad idea to send them the year, make, and model of the photographers car either.
9. Notice their Demeanor
What's their demeanor like? Do they communicate in a professional manner? Notice how they communicate with you. Are they rude? Are they Pushy? How many times have they complimented your looks? Have they asked you to send them risqué photos for any reason? It's common for predators to ask for photos "so they know what they are working with".
10. Don't* fly to meet a photographer
I hesitate to say “don’t” because I am sure there are rare occasions where models are flown out to other cities legitimately for photo shoots but more often than not those are signed models and the flight is setup through their agency. If a photographer not working with an agency offers to fly you somewhere he is expecting more than photos. so if someone throws out this offer ask what company they work for and verify everything with that company and use the tips mentioned above to vet the company as well. And for the love of God don’t travel alone.
I hope this article helped, if you have anything to add to this list please comment below. I don't mean to scare you, as a whole I love the Portland photography community and we look out for each other but like with most things there is a dark side. Always use your best judgment and go with your gut.
Bring Protection: It's never a bad idea to bring some kind of protection. Taser, pepper spray, knife, etc.
Be aware of Fraudulent Modeling Agencies with these Tips
Author Lance A Reis
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