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News & Insight

Models Still Face Sexual Predators At All Levels | It Must Not Be Tolerated

By Brittany Smith on October 2nd 2017

Connection and chemistry are two key components of creating compelling portraits and fashion imagery. There is a give and take, often nearing an unspoken intimacy that takes place between the model and the photographer. There are numerous accounts of models and photographers falling in love, take Kate Moss and Mario Sorrenti circa 1993 for example, and there are no issues to be had when this occurs naturally. But the ongoing problem is when lines are crossed and boundaries are bulldozed by a predator when a model is already in a vulnerable state. And to be sure, this happens with frequency, and at all levels – they don’t have to be Terry Richardson.

Take the following message to a model as a perfect example. This is real, and just a snippet of a significantly longer, more heinous transcript, and we are sharing it with permission. And the following was one of the responses from the photographer.

Shared from Facebook.com with permission.

A model will most likely be asked or suggested to bare some part of themselves during their career. Agencies are often eager for a young model to book the shoot, especially with a well-known photographer, in hopes that it will launch their career. When conducted in a very professional manner it can go down without a hitch and the end product is breathtaking. With social media influence on the rise, it is becoming evident that photographers on a lesser scale are using their social media to leverage risqué photoshoots and get away with lewd behavior and commentary.

A photographer recently demonstrated that this unprofessional manner is still alive and well after he sent some questionable texts that were shared online, some of which are shared above. When brought into question he insinuated that if a model can’t handle a little flirting during a nude shoot that she will never make it in the fashion industry. This is absolutely inaccurate, and damaging.

A model absolutely needs thick skin to withstand the demands of the industry, not for being subjected to lewd objectification of someone’s desires on set. Nowhere in the agreement of a nude shoot does the model sign on the dotted line to flirt with the photographer throughout the day. Also, let’s get one thing straight – partaking in a nude photoshoot with a pinup and alternative glamour photographer with a large social media following will not launch a model’s career.

[REWIND: PHOTOGRAPHING AGENCY MODELS | HOW TO SHOOT BODY SHOTS & WHY IT’S CRITICAL]

Not only is this type of behavior unprofessional, it is a dangerous game, especially when dealing with young women. It is not uncommon for them to mistake the sheer physicality and sex for actual affection. This pushes the boundaries into a dangerous territory that shouldn’t be crossed, and sadly the wannabe Terry Richardson’s of the world view it as a right of passage. Coercing a model into these explicit scenarios when they are already in a vulnerable situation is downright predatory, and exploitive.

“When a beautiful young girl is standing on the paper, and the photographer is looking at her—that thing of being told you’re the most beautiful works everyone into a state of desire, where the girl is being appreciated and she feels loved. There’s a very fine line between abuse of that innocence and validation of their beauty.” – Joan Juliet Buck, former editor of French Vogue.

Model Alliance was founded in 2012 to give models a platform to have their voices heard in the industry. It also provided protection against sexual harassment and other pressures that are an ongoing problem by calling for transparency within the fashion industry. This was a monumental step in the right direction, as previously the reaction to allegations of sexual harassment were met with near rape culture responses and victim blaming, while the accused perpetrator rose in popularity as a result of the controversy. This is clearly what the photographer above is trying to do.

Testing out the new @broncolorusa Scoro 1600E WiFi.

A post shared by Brittany Smith (@brittanysmithphoto) on

Nudity has long since been a part of the arts, and if the SS/18 NYFW is any indicator, it will continue to be a part of the world for years to come. If and when the situation arises for nudity in a photoshoot, it is our job as photographers to make the model feel safe and comfortable. Be forthcoming with the demands and intricacies of the shoot for them to agree to the terms at the beginning. Make sure they feel secure in the environment and immediately communicate any changes that arise.

Models are so much more than live mannequins that showcase clothing. There is a proper way of communicating and maintaining a level of professionalism from the onset of the planning stage and throughout the completion of the shoot. Treating a model with the utmost respect and integrity will go a long way and keep the trajectory of the industry on the right path.

Brittany is a fashion and beauty photographer who works between NYC, Montana and LA. She photographs the way she has always wanted to feel and believes in the power of raw simplicity. When not behind a camera she can usually be found at a local coffeeshop, teaching fitness classes at the YMCA, or baking something fabulous in the kitchen.
Instagram: @brittanysmithphoto

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Oliverr Whiite

    JOE BOWERS is the name of the CREEP who sent those messages! Joe Bowers photography is the name of his page….fuck this guy, his photography is pretty terrible anyway, just by his photos he looks like a sexual predator. 

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    • Reggie Campbell

      Now this is a classless move, if the article didn’t mention the name of the photographer then why do you feel the need to? Also try looking up the legal definition of the term sexual predator & you’d see that none of what was done falls within that definition, very inappropriate, unprofessional & creepy but sexual predator no. Now let me say I DO NOT CONDONE his actions, however this is the above post only serves to slant the discussion into a negative witch hunt of the photographer. As I stated earlier only one side of the conversation was posted & we are only left to wonder what the models response was. I’ve taken a look at his work & it falls within the bounds of artistic nude, boudoir, very sexualized, but boudoir no less.  

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  2. Justin Woo

    It’s absolute horrifying that this all needed to be said, but dudes are pretty much the worst, so I also can’t say that I’m surprised. 

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    • Reggie Campbell

      Justin you seem to be a dude, so are you lumping yourself in that “the worst” grouping?? 

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  3. Alex Petrenko

    As one classics said: “There’s no comfort in the truth”.

    Great he said it before the session. Great that expectations of “photographer” are defined. Great that model has a chance to say “no”. It’s a talk of two adults stating clearly their thoughts.

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    • Brittany Smith

      It is very good that she knew it wasn’t expected of her, some don’t. And yes, very good intentions were lined out beforehand. If only that were always the case. 

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  4. Reggie Campbell

    While this is something that needs to be discussed, this article is a bit one sided in that only shows one side of the conversation. As a male photographer I have had female models make similar advances in order to receive free or discounted shoots. To title an article in this manner looks more like click bait than a true start to discussing & maybe fixing these issues. 

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    • Brittany Smith

      The other side of the conversation was not shared to protect the anonymity of the model, and there were others. I can assure you she disclosed it was unprofessional and he eluded he wouldn’t find her fun to work with sans flirting. Being on the flip side, as you indicated, is another social issue entirely, and one worthy of being discussed.

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    • Reggie Campbell

      While I get protecting the model, the same should have been done with the photographer instead of posting his IG avatar. You had no qualms about throwing the photog under the bus, you could have presented the article in a way in which neither party was thrown under the bus & just the facts (both sides of the conversation) were presented & discussed. 

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    • Ed Selby

      hmmm — oh yeah.

      Bullshit

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  5. Jonathan Brady

    It’s seriously depressing that an article like this needs to be written at all

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