By: Amy Cooper, ACRONYM
If you follow some of my artful opinion blogs from over the years, you know that I am a person who's always urging women to be comfortable while shooting, but also, to guard themselves when it comes to who they take their clothes off for.
First thing's first: Women empower themselves in different ways. I shared a meme on my personal media the other day that had the sentiment that women can empower themselves with nudity, or they can be modest, and it's not your job to tell her which is okay. This is completely true, and there's no space for slut shaming here.
People have called my thoughts or "preaching" on guarding yourselves against male photographers in the past a little overboard, and some have gotten very defensive in regards to it, the whole "I'm not a creep," "you make male photographers look dangerous," that whole thing. And it's true - some male photographers are great, and super professional, but some are not. And some will make you feel like you're in danger.
This news report from FOX 2 about Anthony Raphael Perales, who claims to have a modeling agency to people, as well as runs his photography studio. Some of the accounts are very chilling, including women who have taken nudes with him, and that now he's labeling his company as "Latin Mass Society" and many women he's photographed have been asked to wear white veils.
Dubbing his page the "Michigan's #1 Premier Exclusive Modeling Agency," some of the women that have come forward have noted that some of his practices seemed fetish based, and his "studio" was actually a storage barn at his house.
The report notes that one of the women that came forward said he wanted to do a Nazi inspired shoot. She initially thought he was kidding, according to the article. No such luck, he's been posting anti-Semitic messages and photos of Adolph Hitler, and him with guns. When contacted by FOX 2, he referred to himself as a National Socialist, as in Nazi Germany, but in America.
Now, obviously, this is an extreme case. But here are a few things to consider, and what you should look out for when you are booking a photographer, or agreeing to work with someone on a "time for pictures," AKA "TFP" shoot:
1. Their Social Media Footprint:
Do they have a page? How many followers do they have? Do they have any fans that are your friends? If the models (who I'm totally not blaming for their lack of research) would have looked up his pages, he has 19 fans on Seroptics Models Incorporated. His second, however, has 2,000+ as The Order of Saint Mary Magdalene, however does show political and religious rhetoric.
2. Their Website:
Does it look reputable? Once again, using Perlas as an example, no, it does not. It sends up many red flags, including saying that he's an award winner, but no awards noted on seropticsmodels.com.
3. View their work:
Does their portfolio exude what you'd hope to be portrayed as? Do you like their editing style? Their concepts? If you're finding that they support or photograph things a certain way, like for example, poorly shot nudes, raunchy photos that you wouldn't dare post on social media, or views of hatred, you should probably not work with them.
As I said, this was a special case, in which things went completely in a different direction, but it's not the first time that a guy has used photography as a front for his own agenda. And I'm not trying to bad mouth the male photographers out there, but as a woman, it's in your best interest to research, and even reach out to friends who may have worked with the photographer to see how they behave.
Exhibit B: Model Testimonials
So far, some of the upsets I've heard in confidence include:
- Telling the model that in their mind, they are pretending they are their girlfriend to produce content that is passionate.
- Pressuring a model to take off their clothes when they did not desire that type of shoot.
- Not giving them a clear indicator of what they wanted out of a shoot, and then becoming enraged when they don't follow through on a plan you're not comfortable with.
- Requesting to meet privately and holding a stipulation that you cannot bring another person with you to the shoot or meeting.
- Requesting to pick you up at your residence.
- Hitting on you, making sexual comments, or asking for sex in exchange for pictures.
Now, some photographers request if they are doing "sexy shoots," "boudoir shoots" etc that you do not bring your significant other, but honestly, if you're not comfortable shooting with a male photographer without your significant other present, and that's the "photographer's rules," then find another photographer. A photographer's job is to make you feel comfortable while shooting.
Never put yourself in a situation where you are in private with a complete stranger that you don't have knowledge about. If you are to meet with a photographer, meet them in public. Get to know them. Make sure that your gut checks out and that they aren't exuding any creepy behavior before you shoot.
And ladies, please: If a male photographer is hitting on you, put an end to it right then and there. Even if you want the shoot - your self respect is way more important, and find someone who respects you, your body, and your work.