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News & Insight

Try Not To Cringe Through This Sexual Harassment Video ‘The Photographer’

By Shivani Reddy on April 7th 2017

Cosmopolitan Magazine surveyed 2,235 women and found that 1 in every 3 have been sexually harassed at work.

Whether you doubt the credibility of the magazine, or choose to believe that specific statistic is immaterial, copious amounts of data prove that sexual harassment in the workplace is most definitely ubiquitous. The following video has been making its rounds and shedding light on an issue that may hit too close to home. For full effect we recommend watching it first without our description on its content.

Disclaimer: This video is based on real-life events and the dialogue and actions are deemed NSFW – watch at your own risk. 

Cosmo teamed up with David Schwimmer to create a chilling series and campaign entitled #ThatsHarassment, originally adapted from Israeli-American director Sigal Avin’s short doc-series on the same subject. Avin’s intention was to educate people of the despicable truth of sexual harassment in the workplace since there was little to no visual material to combat the issue.

She reached out to Schwimmer who enlisted the help of Mazdack Rassi, co-founder and creative director of Milk Studios in New York City, to create 6 videos based on real life scenarios. As can be clearly seen in the video herein, the creative field, our field of photography, is not exempt in the slightest.

In a world plagued with misogynistic media and sexually objectifying behavior,  it is our job as members of a functioning society to be better. Too often do we find that members on a set, like those depicted in the video, stand around and don’t do anything to stop what is obviously a play of power.

This video is just a small glimpse of one faction of sexual harassment that occurred in our industry. Its echo should be heard across all industries and professions as a call-to-action to end such abhorrent behavior, and to make the workplace a safer environment.

Schwimmer’s comments on the intent and purpose of the pieces really say it all:

The whole purpose of this is to encourage people and to give them the courage to speak out if they’re a victim themselves of harassment, or if they witness or are aware of sexual harassment. The reality [is that] this kind of harassment takes place in the workplace, in a professional environment. And that means it’s about power. The problem is that people don’t step forward or say something if they’re witnessing it because of fear of retaliation. The more you’re surrounded by other people who agree and see that something is wrong, the easier it is for someone to step forward. You feel like you have an army behind you.

It’s simple to place the blame on one individual, but are you equally at fault for not speaking out?

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Shivani wants to live in a world where laughter is the cure to pretty much everything. Since she can’t claim “Serial Bingewatcher” as an occupation, she’ll settle for wedding/portrait photographer at Lin and Jirsa & marketing coordinator here at SLR Lounge. For those rare moments when you won’t find a camera in her hand, she will be dancing, eating a donut, or most likely watching Seinfeld.

Follow her on Instagram: @shivalry_inc

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Adel Pretorius

    Seems like they hit a nerve with some viewers..

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  2. Mac Hayes

    This girl looked extremely vulnerable and ill at ease from the very beginning. Probably just what the agency wanted. The photographer was depicted as intimidating the model. In the context of the purpose of this video he effectively came off as a predator. Some models may not be so vulnerable but this one seemed to be very much ill-suited personally for this job.

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  3. Elliott Parfitt

    Some people try to make the tiniest things into sexual harassment. This video is guilty of the opposite. It paints such a dark twisted picture that it trivializes the real issues and nullifies its own credibility. What we need is not an emotional drama but a presentation by some models as to what they feel crosses the line. Real life examples are the way to instruct.

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  4. Dan Harvell

    When I do a shoot – whether TFP or paid – the first thing I make clear, to the model, is that if she isn’t comfortable, don’t do it.  After all, discomfort shows in the shots and that makes for terrible art.  Although they mean it as a compliment, it churns my stomach how many times my sessions end with the model saying, “Thank you for not being a creep.”  Just the fact that the models feel that they have to thank me for not being a creep really underscores the reality that this is a huge problem.  The solution:  communicate.  If the model and photographer both know the parameters of the shoot, before the shoot even begins, a lot of problems can be avoided.  If either party starts to stray from those parameters, the other party needs to have the responsibility to say, “no”.  If the other party keeps pushing, the session is done. 

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  5. Jay Matthews

    For those who don’t get this video you may want to seek help to avoid the probable damage you’re causing talent and the industry as a whole. I am not afraid to step forward, but it’s insane when the talent (often brainwashed by money issues/already paid/under the influence of photographer’s authority/etc.) feels threatened by anyone defending them and sides with their abuser. Here’s a link to a video the talent made public that illustrates how abusive and depraved photographers get and the talent ‘going along for the awkward ride’ – she claims on a personal page how she almost lost it doing that shoot…but is obviously convinced she made the right decision because the images are so great (they’re not, but she gets ‘Likes’ and ‘Followers’ that validate that nonsense) This horrible shyt happens all the time! I have refused to work with many a photographer (all male) as a result of their ‘attitudes towards female talent’ –

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  6. Shawn Slattery

    Thanks for making us look bad. maybe in a porn shoot??? I think I’ll join PREMIUM

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  7. Shawn Slattery

    What bullshit, This is Nancy Grace propaganda…  1 out of 10,000 TFP!

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  8. Jim Tincher

    That was a struggle to watch. Numerous times I was ready to stop the video. I’m sure it happens…. I feel really bad for the girls that find themselves in that type of situation. 

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    • Shivani Reddy

      Yeah I had to stop quite a bit to see how much more of this I had to endure. Definitely sent a very clear message though. 

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  9. Ben McPhee

    This is so unprofessional. He’s not even shooting tethered.

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  10. Mar Javierto

    It’s been the story since who knows when…  so now what do we do about it

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  11. Felix Wu

    It was such a review in the end…I mean I love that beautiful briese setup! I am a photographer! : P

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  12. Ett Venter

    Couldn’t bring myself to continue watching after the first 20 seconds. 

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    • Kayode Olorunfemi

      Had to stop as well, I have 2 daughters and though not models cannot imagine the going through a fraction of this. 

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  13. Jonathan Brady

    Nauseating, horrific, and depressing. 

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  14. Jeremy Ellsworth

    Powerful piece. Especially when they pan around and show all the people just standing by and watching. It is hard to watch though. 

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  15. Jason Bryant

    Cosmo puts this PSA out there yet they have worked with Terry Richardson… #hypocrites

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    • Francisco Hernandez

      Absolutely despise Terry.

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    • Pye Jirsa

      It’s interesting how the industry works. People that become names like Terry Richardson can command so much power with agencies that it forces models, outlets, magazines, etc to work with them.  

       Honestly, the only way this problem will be solved is for the readers (in addition to the magazines themselves) to stop watching/using pictures/media, bad media from bad sources. 

      So long as there is a market, there will be people that take advantage. People publicly judge the porn industry for what they do and what they create, but to be honest those same people turn around and watch that porn in private. 

      Porn exists for the most part not because it’s enjoyable to create, but because there is a market for its existence. Likewise, cheap publications put out garbage and take advantage of models like this not because it’s their thing, it’s because it’s our thing (as the readers). 

      Stop buying it, stop reading it, stop watching it, and it will dry up. 

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  16. Pye Jirsa

    This series makes my skin crawl. Such a powerful message, but absolutely disturbing to watch. 

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    • Josia Wiegand

      Absolutely… in my opinion this is quite unprofessional. Not because of the lack of great equipment, but because of the lack of human connection and the positive atmosphere…

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