For the past two decades I guess I’ve been pretty fortunate that I get to do something I enjoy to make a living. I’ve had other jobs so I know it can get a whole lot worse out there. They say you should never mix business with pleasure but there genuinely are some careers that allow just that. When I was shooting motorsport or bands on tour, it was the perfect combination.
We live in a time when almost everyone carries a camera, whether that’s on your phone, or an SLR. The thing is, does that make everyone a photographer? The lines have become so blurred these days thats become a difficult question to answer. I mean, I own a toolbox and a set of spanners but I wouldn’t consider myself a mechanic. I also own a pen and a keyboard but I’m certainly no writer, this post won’t win an literary awards.
Lets consider Instagram, so many times I see individuals announcing, “Internationally Published Photographer”. Surely if you post on any social media, you’re publishing, it’s available to the world, which effectively makes you ‘Internationally Published’. Or does it?
In recent days, several ‘Photographers’ have been outted online by models as sexual predators. That can only be a good thing. Social media being what it is the whole world and their dogs have jumped on the opinion wagon with their comments. I’ve been asked for mine and whilst I’ve always advocated publicly that models should do their research, follow up references etc, I’m elaborating a little more here rather than fan the flames on social media. It’s important that these things are kept in perspective and don’t become a witch hunt. They say theres no smoke without fire but you can’t argue with the flames posted recently.
It’s not my place to name names, or comment on the individuals, thats best left to those involved but having read plenty of articles over the years on what is a serious issue, and having spent almost a decade shooting models, I think I have some points worth mentioning.
Firstly, models, when you first make contact with a photographer regarding booking a shoot, don’t start it off with “Hi Hun”, you wouldn’t believe how many times this happens. Darling, Babe, I’ve been called them all and you have no idea how tempting it is to throw those messages straight in the trash. Hi, or Hi Scott will do just fine, thank you.
Don’t get me wrong, We’re on the subject of dodgy photographers here, I’m not blaming models for the way they often send messages, I’m saying, lets keep it pro on both sides so there can be no misunderstanding right from the getgo. ‘Hi Hun’ has always gone right over my head, as does an ‘X’ at the end of every line, I can accept it as just being friendly, what I’m saying is, not everyone will interpret it that way.
I read a post recently that said something along the lines of “it’s disgusting that he’s abusing his position within the industry”. What position? Instagram photographers positions are perceived differently depending on who’s viewing the images, and what industry exactly? The industry of taking photos for social media? The ‘photographers’ in question arn’t actively involved in any industry that I’m aware of outside of social media. That “industry” if it exists at all has never made any sense to me. I suppose if you’re in the market of paying for images for your social media then, yes, perhaps there’s an industry. If it’s just two people coming together to collaborate is that just a hobby, or an industry, whatever, does it mean either party shouldn’t behave professionally regardless.
Whilst I rarely ever make public comment, like it or not, part of my work involves me keeping my ear to the ground. I need to know who to book, who’s new, models and photographers. Keeping half a good eye on the competition just makes good business sense. It’s not something to waste too much energy on but it needs doing.
Theres a term that I learnt, from models, a few years back. ‘GWC’ Guys With Cameras, I should at least be grateful that the term exists and that it apparently differentiates between ‘Photographers’ (pro or amateur), and……well, Guys With Cameras. The problem that exists is that many people find it hard to spot the differences until it’s too late and sadly, many more, just don’t care as long as they have new photos of themselves.
A sure fire way to spot a GWC might be the way the individual responds to your “Hey Hun” enquiry. From the screenshots posted recently, alarm bells should be ringing at that point. It doesn’t matter if the photographer is an amateur, if genuinely interested in photography, he/she will still have a professional approach.
Next up, check out their online portfolios, personally I can spot them a mile off, they usually use a bunch of washed out filters and re-create the same shot using the same props, bedroom, bath, or hot tub, over and over again with every model that walks through the door. Now we all love a bit of natural light photography, but I can’t help but find it a little coincidental that theres been a recent influx of ‘Photographers’ who on the face of it, have no clue how to balance natural light, let alone studio equipment.
So, regardless of all I’ve written above, it still comes down to, ‘Do your Research’, not only should you follow up references and ask other models about their experiences, you really should get into the habit of looking at the photos in the portfolios, I mean really looking. Not just booking a photographer because another model did. Do you really want to sell your soul re-creating the same shot someone else did just for a few likes on social media? Is this person really “Internationally Published” or did they actually give some shots to a free online magazine, are they embellishing the truth.
I realise photography is subjective, we all see things differently, and we’re all looking to get something different out of it, that’s part of the beauty. But there are people out there using a camera for nefarious purposes, I believe these people might well have behaved this way whatever their chosen equipment, they could just as easily have become the plumber who came to fix your shower, then talked you into trying it out before they left.
Choose wisely and be careful out there…
Models, Please see my references here…