I regularly get asked for references regarding other photographers. Because I don’t know many of my peers, I often give some common sense advice I’ve picked up over the years. That advice is listed below.

Please use the points below as a check-list to make sure the shoot you may have booked is safe.

Featured Model – Holly Bricken

A few simple practices when considering hiring a photographer, or agreeing to work with one.

  1. Do they have a website? Not just a WWW, but a full site with contact info, galleries with samples of their work?  A “Coming Soon”, or no page doesn’t count. In this day and age, you can’t call yourself a professional without one. Be weary of ‘professional’ photographers that keep their information private, or social media pages private. If they’re not advertising in some capacity or another and are only reaching out to models to shoot, be suspicious as to why.
  2. Google their name, if there have been any sexual or other legal charges against them, you’ll find them. Make yourself aware before deciding.
  3. Obtain in writing exactly what you’re going to shoot, what the purpose of the shoot is and what promises are being made. ANYONE with a camera on their phone can submit to magazines, test for Playboy, and promise to get you seen by the right people. You need to be certain they can deliver what they are promising and more importantly, what you are paying for. I have heard stories where photographers promise to get models into magazines or even win contests, if hired. This is illegal. Wikipedia says the following on the subject: Misrepresentation is a contract law concept. It means a false statement of fact made by one party to another party, which has the effect of inducing that party into the contract. For example, under certain circumstances, false statements or promises made by a seller of goods regarding the quality or nature of the product that the seller has may constitute misrepresentation. A finding of misrepresentation allows for a remedy of rescission and sometimes damages depending on the type of misrepresentation. If you feel, you’ve been a victim of this, obtain legal advice.
  4. Be a big girl. If a photographer asks to see nude pics of you before shooting, use your head. Unless you are doing a nude shoot, there is no reason for it.
  5. If you are unsure, or even want to take a chaperone with you, do so.  RUN from any photographer that doesn’t allow it.
  6. Write a review about your experience. Good or bad. This way others can see what to expect. Trends will show after a while. Don’t let the photographer write the review for you – if offered, while difficult to do, decline it. Don’t be a tool. Write your own. (See next point)
  7. Don’t be fooled by online testimonials. Contact the models the photographer has worked with and talk to them personally.  Even ask them how the photographer stacks up to their peers. You might find yourself a better one.
  8. Don’t be afraid to leave. Walk away from the shoot if you feel compromised in any way.
  9. Be careful of lofty promises, hard sales, and PLEASE, follow your gut. Most models I have spoken with which have had bad experiences all share the same feeling of, “I should have listened to my gut”
  10. SHARE! If a photographer steps out of line, and by this I mean crosses the boundaries of your rights. Make it known. We are all in this together and are all responsible to ensure we maintain the credibility of our professions. We have a moral obligation to each other to prevent this behavior from continuing.
  11. Unless a photographer is paying or offering something in exchange for exclusivity, it is unprofessional for them to ask, or expect you NOT to work with other photographers or companies.  Exclusivity means you can’t work with others thus removing you from opportunities and as such you need to be compensated.
  12. Watch out for the ‘Bait and Switch‘. This is where a photographer reaches out to you mentioning you have the perfect look for a magazine, advertiser, or (insert awesome opportunity here).  It’s not until they have peaked your interest they send you their rates to shoot. If you’re the perfect model for the shoot it should be the other way around – YOU should get paid. At this point they have lost credibility and you should cancel immediately. ANOTHER form of the ‘Bait and Switch’ is when you book with one photographer and they send another in their place. I’ve herd of this happening, so in your correspondence make sure to state that you’re booking with them and them only and are not interested in paying for someone else to do their job.
  13. Make sure the product you are going to shoot for actually exists. I have heard of models shooting for supplements and magazines that don’t actually exist. It should be pretty easy to find out. A little research is all it takes. If you can’t buy the product online, that should tell you something.
  14. I know this happens from time to time, but just in the first three weeks of January alone, I have had 7 people impersonate me, reaching out to models on various social media platforms. Please be cautious when receiving messages from photographers on there. If they only have a few friends and the account isn’t very old, that should be a good warning sign.
  15. Be weary of those that speak of other photographers negatively as a way to encourage you to work with them. Business reasons aside, it shows a lack of integrity and simple human courtesy.
  16. If you have SERIOUS concerns, please feel free to contact me for advice. I’ve been at this for a while now and might be able to help. Please keep in mind, I get numerous emails per day so expect some delayed responses.

This was a quick list off the top of my head. Check back regularly as I will update with current info as I get it. If you have other ideas, please feel free to comment below.

Here’s another post I wrote to help fitness models (And photographers as well) – I Feel Sorry for Fitness Models Today.

Since I wrote this, Stacy Rinella, Oxygen’s Editor-In-Chief had followed up with an article in Oxygen referencing this post. You can read her Editor’s letter here.

I would be remiss if I didn’t add a link to my own photography services here. Want to shoot?

This post is for everyone’s well-being – It’s in all our best interests. Share it on Facebook, Tweet it, forward it to models and photographers you may know. Let’s help make our community a safe and reputable one – It’s our moral obligation to do so.


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