“There’s a relationship here: one where a guy is taking your picture free of charge because you’re standing there in a fun fur bikini and nipple pasties. But how can you tell if he’s a typical guy or a serial killer out to remove your kidneys?”
. . .
The rise of social media has created a culture where everybody wants to be a star. Which has led to a rise in the number of people, often male, posing as photographers in order to take pictures of people, often female, often half naked.
The thought of this rewinds me by 100 years which, since I am 117 years old, means I was 17 at the time. I was walking through Central Park minding my own business when a short, fat little man wearing glasses approached me. He said I was super beautiful and asked to take my picture.
I freaked out. Who the hell was this freak? But then he gave me a business card and I thought, ohhhh he’s a photographer. It must be okay, right?
Obviously, since this guy made it into my post about fake-tographers, it wasn’t okay. He kept asking me to stick out my boobs, etc, ad nauseum, and at one point tried to “pose me” by touching my upper thigh. I told him to stop touching me, got really creeped out, and decided to leave. On the off chance that he was a real photographer, I gave him my e-mail address to send me copies of the photos. I was already mentally deleting that inbox and getting a new email address as we spoke.
As I was leaving, this guy asked to take me out to dinner. Law and Order: SVU wasn’t around back then but luckily, they had already invented common sense. It’s extinct in many places now, but we still had it where I lived. “No, thanks,” I said, and walked off.
When I was an aspiring model trying to build my portfolio, I shot tfp (trade for portfolio) with more than one photographer, with varying results. Most often, I was the one doing the dealing: calling up a well known professional photographer and asking them to help me out with photos for my portfolio.
When I think about it, most of them were creeps. 9/10 asked to take naked pictures of me, and the 10th one asked to take pictures of me in a tutu holding a teddy bear, or in a leather dress wearing a collar. All of them wanted the kind of pictures that were obviously going more in their personal collection than in a portfolio.
I said, no. And nobody ever pushed the issue. I’ve heard worse stories. At my thinnest, I was a size 4, but I was still 5’10” and weighed in at 190 lbs of lean muscle. I was able to put myself in scary situations and get away with it. I was also never alone with a photographer.
Working with professional photographers who were willing to shoot me for free was actually pretty good for my professionalism on actual shoots: I got to know what my face and body looked like in different positions, and how to pose.
If you’re female, and a photographer is male, and you are half naked in front of him, and he gets excited, and he’s straight, that’s not really a bad thing. Unless he acts on it violently, tries to force or coerce you.
I hate to sound like a horrible person, but I used to love working with men who I would never go near with a ten foot pole. I saw myself as a champion for humanity, letting these superficial assholes chase me in circles (but never touch me) so that they would (I hoped) one day learn that there was more to life than looks. If they never did, I was happy to use their free services and laugh, in my head, at how stupid they were.
Maybe that’s what they got off on. Obsessing. Being hated. That kind of thing. Everybody has their kink, right.
Here’s how you can tell a real photographer from a faketographer (if you want to):
- Real photographers take pictures of more than one thing. If he’s got an extensive portfolio of ten thousand pictures of naked or mostly naked girls that looks a little like the book they’d hand you at a pornstar booking agency, it might actually be the book his pornstar booking agency hands to clients. A friend in the industry once met a man who had a binder full of his photos of “models”. She got suspicious, checked the name on his ID, and asked the police about him. It turned out he was a wanted pimp. Yuck. A real photographer takes photos of buildings, weddings, trees once in a while. He has friends and family members who want their photos taken. A dog. A man who is obsessed with naked females to the point of photographing them all day to the exclusion of all else in his life? I don’t have to tell you that person is a crazy creeper, do I?
- Fake-tographers almost never get paid. By anyone. For anything. Look at all those photos in his profile. He must be top-notch, right? But why is it that none of the models are wearing recognizeable fashion brands, and none of these photos are from books, magazines, or even blog posts? In a society obsessed with itself, it’s pretty easy to find work as a photographer. Post an ad on kijii for $50 wedding photos and you’ll be overbooked for months. Have camera, will travel? Shut up, people love that. I used to get $80 a day to take paparazzi photos of groups of girls out for a ladies night so they could post the pics on their social media later. If this dude has nothing but pictures of girls and they’re all trade-for-portfolio shoots, chances are he’s got a serial killer wall at home, just saying.
- Look for more than one gender and more than one body type. Serial killers and creepers have one thing in common: they have a type. Okay two things, they’re both creepers. If you’re looking through his portfolio and noticing that all these pictures look the same, and they’re all of the same gender/approximate age/body type/color of person, you’re probably best to steer clear. Especially if you, too, are a blonde white girl between 80-120 lbs (otherwise known as the largest victim base for serial killers and often, creepy fake-tographers)
- Professional association. No, I don’t mean this person is a member of the Ontario Photographers group on Facebook. I mean the opposite of that. There are Professional Photographers Associations for every region of the world, from the Professional Photographers Association of Canada to the Professional Photographers Association of Australia. Member photographers are dedicated professionals.
- Consider where you met them. I have made numerous photographer contacts, and my favorite place to meet photographers is at event photo booths. I can see what kind of work they do right then and there. I can also see how they treat people. If I notice that a photographer is spending more time and energy with a certain age, gender, and body type of person, or that they are asking to trade personal information with certain types of individual, I will avoid using them EVEN (and here’s the hard part people) if I happen to be the body type, gender, and color they are focused on. A professional photographer is creating art, not looking for a date.
- Take someone with you. Does this photographer only want to shoot you alone and get super annoyed when your dad, uncle, or boyfriend walks in with you? Trust me, you want none of that shoot.
- Never be alone with a photographer. Even (and this is also important) if the image you’re shooting feels “private”. If you want to be a model anyway, you’re going to have to get used to being embarassed in front of people. If you’ve ever seen a runway show, you know that girls are walking down the runway wearing see through tops and bottoms as well, in front of hundreds of people. Nudity is also an aspect of acting, and actors are called upon to film sex scenes in front of an entire crew, sometimes entirely naked except for a piece of tape. It’s normal for even a playboy shoot to take place in a room full of people. If someone asks you to be alone with them, they want to do something they don’t want other people to see. Which is totally cool with me, as long as you are legitimately attracted to this person and want to have sexual contact with him in which case:
- Don’t work with someone you are dating. If a photographer asks you out, politely decline, because the two of you have a business relationship. Tell him that he shouldn’t be asking girls he is working with out on dates. You might be flattered by his advances or interested in dating him, but other girls might not. You’re doing him (and yourself) a favor by letting them know that it’s not okay to assume a personal relationship with someone they work with. If you’re serious about modelling and want this to be your job, then sleeping with this photographer is the worst thing you can do for your career. It’s unprofessional, and most agencies/brands/magazines want to work with professional contractors.
- Real photographers are asked to take photos you might not like. The main complaint I’ve heard from legitimate photographers is that someone assumed they were fake because they saw a lingerie shoot or nude shoot. Real photographers are hired often to take boudoir photos, and some are even hired to take photos of strippers and prostitutes. Hey, somebody had to take the photos for those Vegas strip flyers. You might not like these photos, and the photographer might not have liked taking them, but they do happen. Don’t assume a photographer is a perv just because he has them in his portfolio.
I hope these tips help you to stay safe, and wish you the best luck with your future career. I also want to mention that life can actually be pretty tough for photographers. They get jammed into niches for one thing: female photographers are more likely to be hired for weddings or to take photos of babies, male photographers are more likely to be hired by nightclubs and strip clubs. I have run into any number of women who only want to work with a male photographer, and a lot of girls who think that by having sex or some form of sexual contact with a photographer they will get better photos, and more of them, free of charge. Often, they’re right.
Which is why I said at the beginning: avoid fake-tographers, unless you don’t want to. If we expect to be a post-feminist society we must also acknowlege that women aren’t always innocent victims standing in front of a camera completely unaware of the fact that they are not paying for pictures that further their brand, and are exploiting the good nature of a man whose nature is good because they’re wearing a fun fur bikini and nipple pasties.