When a photoshoot…isn’t

Posted: 28/04/2016 in General, safety

As some of you know, I co-run Safe Model, a resource for people in the industry to come for help and advice. Weekly, we receive reports of unsavoury behaviour in one form or another and we always do our very best to help as much as we can, even if it’s just an ear to listen. Every now and then something that truly horrifies us gets brought to our attention.

This week we had two of those…

The first of these has now been made public and you’ll find it makes for very uncomfortable reading. This was not a photoshoot. This was a guy luring models in with paying ‘work’ offers, whereby he then physically assaults them for his own gratification. And it WAS assault. There is no question of that.

The ‘breath play’ set, for example. This can be alluded to photographically by insinuation, you don’t actually need to stop your model from being able to breathe. That was purely done for his own purposes.

I have seen the checklist this ‘photographer’ provides, with very little explanation of what these very niche terms are, and it includes “sex without protection”. Take a moment to absorb that.

Now, as has been pointed out numerous times over the last few days, once this young lady had endured the first ‘set’, she should have fled. You NEVER stay on a shoot where this happens without your express consent. BUT, that’s often easier said than done. You’re alone with a guy who’s just hurt you. What will happen if you try to leave?! This is something that all the ‘tutters’ fail to understand. What did go wrong, from the outset, was that the model did not do her due diligence. Before agreeing to any shoot of this nature you need to make damned sure you know what you’re getting yourself into. You need to speak, personally, with models who have shot with this person before; you search their name, email address, phone number…everything you have, online and find out all you can. As it turns out, other models have now come forward, saying they had the same experience with the same guy.

However, none of that detracts from the fact that it is the photographer who is to blame. Not the model. She made an error in judgement, he set out to mislead her and then assault her. That is a fact. The saddest fact is that it is necessary to have to do the research, to not be able to trust online references, because we all know that they tell half a story a lot of the time.

Which leads into the second story, also in the public domain… A young model, in financial difficulty is offered a golden opportunity to shoot some fetish/BDSM work. Great. Only during the pre-shoot communications, the photographer starts to change the boundaries. What starts as a staged scenario for the purposes of photos turns into the model being dominated by another party, and then another – the photographer. Reality, not staged. Then the photographer starts demanding the model is now his play thing, a toy. He bombards her with messages, constantly reminding her that he’s going to make her a lot of money, if she just does ‘as she is told’. That he is starting her training before the shoot, making the demands that a Master makes to his submissive. I’ve personally seen many screenshots of this conversation, it makes your skin crawl so far it leaves the building, and I’ve been involved in the scene for 21 years, so I don’t shock easily.

These are NOT photoshoots. They were manipulation, power play and control. Photographs would just have been a bonus. This is unacceptable. Had the models been wanting to fulfill a reality role of that kind, that would be a totally different story, as it would be their informed choice and as grown women they are entitled to that choice. Whilst some would frown upon it, because it crosses the professional boundaries, it would still be consenting adults doing as they wish. I have no issue whatsoever with the BDSM lifestyle, I encourage it, but you have to be honest at all times with your intentions. If it’s a photoshoot, then make it that and leave it at that! The codes of conduct exist for a reason.

In closing, my advice to anyone who wishes to undertake a BDSM/Fetish photoshoot is this:

  1. Research. Always.
  2. Insurance – Ask your photographer whether they have it.
  3. 3rd Party – If your shoot will entail you being restrained in such a way that you will be unable to free yourself or move, a 3rd party is absolutely necessary. What if the photographer dropped dead of a heart attack, or had an accident that rendered them unconscious?
  4. Training/Experience – Ask if they have relevant training, especially in health & safety/first aid. If not, then they will need a rigger. That can be your 3rd party.
  5. Content – Make sure from the outset that you are very clear what will be happening. Do not agree to anything you are unsure of. Remember that anything depicting harm or danger to breasts, anus or genitals is illegal in the UK.
  6. Limits – Set your own limits, do not deviate from them.
  7. Safe words/signals – Ensure that all parties are aware before the shoot begins what your safe words are, or signals if you will be gagged.
  8. Do not advertise yourself as a bondage/fetish model if your experience is being handcuffed, or dangling from some chains. Actual BDSM/fetish shoots are often to a much higher level, especially those that are paying.
  9. Safety – No safe rigger will tie you without first asking a set of basic questions about your health.

Please remember that you are ultimately responsible for your own safety, inexperience and lack of knowledge are the most common ways models find themselves in these situations. Learn to spot the dangers, because they are out there!


  1. Gavin says:

    Biggest problem is you run a Facebook page and group with a large database of names.

    I see no proof that you are registered with the data protection registrar

    I see no proof that you check the accuracy of the data you hold

    I see no proof that you contact each and every photographer on that database to inform them

    You need to close down your database now

    • TwistedPix says:

      What you’ll actually find is we hold no database, as under the DPA, you cannot do so without legally having to provide anyone on said database with any information you record on them, other than a name. So we don’t do that, any information told to us is done so in confidence. You’ll, in fact, find that there are numerous places that do actually hold a lot of information in closed groups, whereby no checks are done. We aren’t one of them.

      We are an advice and education service. There’s no need to shut that down. Our policies are very transparent, we do not allow ‘naming and shaming’. We will only share details when already in the public domain. We require screenshots of any online activity told to us before we will advise anything specific, and we research any information given to us.

      I find the fact that your main concern seems to be what we are doing to help, not what others are doing to hinder…interesting.

      Anything else?

  2. fotodano says:

    You’ve covered all the vital ground here yet something inspires me to chime in.

    Thank you for calling this situation what is in a plain and simple manner: assault.

    The touchstones of a healthy BDSM experience are Safety, Sanity and Consent. Without those three elements this was not a photographer we are discussing. This is a criminal; a type of criminal that could likely display a frightening pattern of increasing violence until they are stopped.

    This photographer isn’t looking for a play partner to do a scene with, he’s not looking for a subject to photograph a depict a scene with. The fact that he has a camera is secondary. This is a predator seeking victims.

    Also, I truly hope that this model does go to the police. The victim takes back their power when they pursue a remedy. It will take a tremendous amount of courage and it could save a life. There’s no question this man broke the law. She says: “I want to go to the police but I don’t know his address and he’s got a form all ticked that I consent to these things, when actually when I wanted to stop he didn’t listen and kept shooting me when I couldn’t breathe”!! The consent that she gave was based on good faith that the photographer would look after her well being while engaging in the activities to which she consented. Her consent was withdrawn when he violated the terms of their agreement and refused to look after her. From that point on this was an assault.

    The models we see engaged in BDSM, intricate ropework and suspension are like athletes. They train for this. One model I spoke with said “No matter who I work with, it’s not a question of IF i will fall but, when. There’s always a crash pad down below”.

    Photographers and models; educate yourself before you go down the road of shooting BDSM. For instance, there is a beginners rope workshop tonight in Peckham. Fetlife.com has all the details. I’m sure there will be valuable information there for everyone. Also, I highly recommend the documentary “Kink”. If nothing else, pay attention to how many people it takes to safely create a BDSM scene.


    Finally, acknowledge to yourself that shooting any kind of erotica can begin to feel…erotic. Compartmentalize those feelings and be a pro. If you are a photographer you’re there to make photographs. If you are a model you are there to model. There is a word for the photoshoot that ends with two strangers spontaneously engaging in some kind of hot sweaty sex. It’s called FICTION. If you want to indulge those feelings do so in a proper manner with the right individual(s).

    I hope that the authorities catch this criminal before he can hurt someone else.

    Ciao Bella,


    “A kink is an unwanted or defective bend in a piece of rope. I like my rope just the way it is, thank you”. DG

    • TwistedPix says:

      Thank you for your input, it’s highly appreciated!

      If more people were to take the time to learn how this all should be, there would be no room for the scenarios in the article.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s