As a freelance model, I’ve met all kinds of photographers; the good, the bad, the creepy and all the others in between. I’m also happy to say that I’ve met some photographers who have become good friends of mine and we still have a good working relationship. We all know that when a photographer and a model click, they create beautiful work or a good working relationship. When I say click, I mean when they are on the same page, when the model is excited to shoot, and the photographer can’t wait to be behind the lens and put his/ her ideas to life. So what happens when there is no energy or enthusiasm to shoot? And why? Sometimes it is no one’s fault because some things are just not meant to happen. Other times, it is because of bad communication, lateness, flaking or because one of them is feeling uncomfortable. One can be uncomfortable due to many things such as small and unclean shooting place, smoking, pet allergy etc.
It is true that models are capable of making photographers uncomfortable. After all, they are humans too. However, for this discussion we will focus on the model being mistreated by a photographer and feeling uncomfortable. When this happens and the model tries to talk about it to express her concerns or to warn others, most people (photographers) call it bad- mouthing. What do you call it? And how would you deal with it or how have you dealt with a situation like this?
Let’s not forget that the model could be lying, exaggerating or she/he misunderstood the photographer and got the wrong idea. However, we are going to assume the incident did happen and it was inappropriate of the photographer. How should a model deal with it afterward? Is it ok for her/him to warn other models and put it on social media? Is it ok for her/him to be honest when other models are seeking recommendations? Or she/ he should just tell them to find out themselves.
I’ve spoken to some photographers about the issue and they all have different opinions. I haven’t talked to a lot models about it but I’ve seen plenty of concerns from models all over social media. I spoke to this well-established photographer who shoots for agencies, magazines and does photography as a fulltime job. He personally told me that he would never work with a freelance or an agency model that has said anything bad about a photographer whether it is true or not. I asked him why and he told me that those kinds of models do not “know their place” in the industry. He explained that if you want to make it in the industry as a model you are going to have to suck up a lot of things, which is true. He explained that photographers talk to each other as models talk to each other and no one wants to work with a drama queen model. He told me that if a photographer has no problems while and after working with a model that he could get him/her paid work, recommend him/her to others. He admitted that in the real fashion industry it is about who has more power. Most of these people had it hard to get where they are so they aren’t going to make it easy for anyone. He advised the models to be humble, to keep their mouths shut until they become well-established. I personally wouldn’t be able to go by his advice mainly because I find it hard to put up with people who disrespect me, regardless who they are. However, what he said was the sad truth in most cases. People with more power in the modeling field tend to misuse their power, take advantage of those below them, especially models.
Sometimes we can’t change things whether we like them or not. Sometimes we just have suck it up and suffer, but to what level should a model deal with bad behavior from a photographer? Sometimes it is just a photographer being simply rude and inconsiderate or just not meeting the model’s needs. Other times, it is unwanted sexual attentions and favors.