Archive for the ‘safety’ Category

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!