How to Deal with Unprofessional Behavior

Please see Model Mayhem’s Member Safety Page for more information.

Sometimes, despite our own professionalism and due diligence, we can end up in situations that require proper handling of a bad situation.

I’ve put together this article to provide a little direction on how to handle these situations without compromising your own reputation as a professional. Remember that these are my own opinions and my own definition of professionalism, but they serve me well and help ensure that, despite the occasional bad situation, I continue to book work and develop a good reputation among people I’ve worked with.

Keeping a good and professional attitude is incredibly important in creating opportunities, increasing possible income while traveling, and retaining a healthy local market.

To clarify before we begin: I’ve used some photos to illustrate my point with potential situations that may occur, but keep in mind that they are my modeling photos and the photographers involved were lovely and respectful, and I recommend them all highly.


The most important aspect of dealing with unprofessional behavior and uncomfortable situations is avoiding them in the first place. It is your responsibility to protect yourself.

There are a lot of things to cover, so below I categorize the preparatory “things to look for” into relevant sub-sections.

Models: Damianne, Robin Bean Photographer: Will Hollis Snider

Take the necessary precautions to avoid scams

It is worthwhile to reiterate that due diligence is incredibly important. Recognize warning signs for scams.

Model Mayhem provides an excellent resource for avoiding them: NEW MODELS; Learn about scams

Carefully check references

Check references, and don’t be afraid to ask other models for help in picking a photographer that suits you.

Check references out of the photographer’s portfolio, rather than asking for them. Seek advice from models that have the kind of portfolio you want, and the kinds of images you’re interested in doing.

Keep in mind: If you’re not willing to do nudes, a nude model may have advice you’re not willing to follow.

Ensure photographer’s preferences don’t conflict with your own

Realize that the photos a photographer shows as their best work is likely going to be the type of image they want to use you for, so if the amount of nudity or general “feel” of the images isn’t something that you’re comfortable with, it may be best to simply pass on the shoot.

Basically, if the photographer’s work feels creepy or weird to you, shooting with them will likely result in your feeling very awkward (at best).

Models: Damianne, Robin Bean Photographer: Will Hollis Snider

Be very, very clear on what you’re NOT willing to do

When discussing the shoot, if there’s any degree of nudity or eroticism, or if the photographer doesn’t already have work like they’re proposing with you in their portfolio, be incredibly clear on what the shoot will involve. Use clear, technical terms like “labia”— don’t use euphemisms; “Playboy-Style Nudes” means a hundred different things to a hundred different people, and if you don’t do open-leg nudity, you need to be clear on that.

Ensure you fully understand the photographer’s interests and expectations

Make sure you not only express your limits, but get a blatant idea of what the photographer is expecting from the shoot. Lack of clarity can lead to uncomfortable situations due to mismatched expectations, and if a photographer or other client is refusing to be clear on these aspects of the shoot, that’s your #1 warning sign of a situation where they may try to “sneak” in something you’re not comfortable doing.

To clarify: A “sexy shoot” means absolutely nothing, and agreeing to do it without figuring out what that means to the client is possibly setting yourself up for anything ranging from awkward to dangerous.

Models: Damianne, Robin Bean Photographer: Will Hollis Snider

Come to a solid, clear agreement on compensation beforehand

It is equally important to agree to compensation clearly, before you meet with them. If you’re paying for portfolio development, find out exactly what you’re paying for. If it’s a trade shoot, you need to be sure you agree on exactly what you’re trading for. If you are the one being paid, make sure the client knows what they’re getting and how much it costs. Do not assume they already “know how it works”, as different expectations will lead to conflict, and makes for bad business.

To clarify: You should not expect anything you didn’t ask for (IE clearly set up) before the shoot.

To really stress this point, I’m going to get into some specifics:

  • If you are being paid, and that is all you requested, you shouldn’t expect to see the photos, and you should be appreciative if you receive them.
  • If it is a TF* agreement, and you did not agree to a number of photos (e.g. “you’ll get three photos” or “you’ll get at least one photo per look”), you shouldn’t expect more photos to come after you’ve received a single one.
  • If you don’t like what the photographer gives you, just don’t work with them again—you won’t be able to force anyone to do something they don’t want to do, and you’ll get a bad reputation if you try to.
  • If you’re being paid and you quoted $25 an hour for a two hour shoot and never discussed travel time, but then had to drive three hours to get to the location, bringing it up after the fact MAY result in the photographer compensating you for some or all of your time, but your options have not changed for enforcing these rates. Just like before the shoot, you can either agree or not agree to the shoot (meaning you can leave and end it)—simply beginning the shoot process does not mean you can make someone pay you.

Managing your own expectations is half of handling these kinds of situations.

Following these guidelines prior to your shoots will cut out the majority of the issues you likely already face.


As I said above, “You should not expect anything you didn’t ask for (IE clearly set up) before the shoot.” Having already gone into that…. if you find yourself in a situation where you clearly set up compensation for your time, and then the other party is not following through, I want to take a moment to apologize that you’re in this situation. It is really unfortunate and definitely doesn’t feel good.

Things you can do now that this has happened:

  • In cases where the photographer didn’t pay you as agreed, you have some legal options, but most of them aren’t worth pursuing. If the photographer is a registered business, look into your state’s method of registering complaints, but the honest truth is that if you’re getting paid cash “under the table”, you probably don’t have many options here. Change your payment policies to require payment on location.
  • Politely inquire about photos with a gentle reminder about the agreement.
  • You can, if a month or two has gone by, ask more firmly—but still politely, about your images.

That’s about it. Like I stated above, you cannot force anyone to do anything, and yelling or giving this person “a piece of your mind” is not only unprofessional, but guarantees that you won’t see anything. Understand this is a risk of freelance modeling, accept that it will probably happen to you at some point or another, and just don’t work with that person again.


This is more common than anyone wants to admit. Photographers, other models, even makeup artists and stylists will sometimes try to sleep with you or date you. The best defense against this is an understanding of the environment in which you are working, having a good attitude, and respecting your own need for comfort.

Models: Damianne Photographer: Vintage Reprise

These things happen: Know this, and calmly deny the advances when they do

There are photographers and models active on this site that are married, dating, engaged, or who have hooked up in the past. Realize that many of them have met through this site, and although their intention may not have been romantic or sexual to begin with, chemistry does happen and people do sleep together. Simply arriving at a shoot in a professional context will not stop all advances.

Be friendly, but be firm that you’re not okay with it

Your main goal should be keeping the atmosphere friendly and away from things that make you uncomfortable—but it isn’t rude to firmly state a lack of interest (and a resulting feeling of discomfort at advances) when someone interprets your friendliness as something else.

If the advances are polite and nonaggressive, simply take it as a compliment and respectfully decline. Be nice, or cute or funny, but be clear that you’re not interested. Most importantly (for continuing a productive and pleasant shoot): Do not judge them. Take attraction as a compliment, not an insult; we’re all human, and given certain situations people feel the need to express their interest. Making someone feel like they are immoral or rude for expressing a positive opinion of you is going to insult them in a way that may make continuing a professional transaction unappealing to them.

It is important to you as a professional, as well, to keep things friendly since receiving photos or payment is entirely in their control (as discussed in the previous section, regarding compensation).

They’re not backing off? End the shoot

However, your limits are up to you. If a client expresses attraction to you after you’ve attempted to gracefully change the subject, be firm in declining their advances, but simply end the shoot and leave as soon as you become uncomfortable, or they become aggressive despite your disinterest.

This applies to a photographer hitting on you after the fact, as well. Politely decline, stay friendly and nonjudgmental. Follow the same guidelines, but instead of ending the shoot if it becomes too much for you to handle gracefully or even politely and firmly, just cease communication and assume you will not see photos.


I’ve been involved in perfectly comfortable shoot discussions about everything from anal sex to Obama, but sometimes the subject matter or the attitude of the other party can offend or upset me. I’ve found that learning to gracefully change the subject when I’m offended is the very best option. If you’re getting upset, avoid yelling or even debating the topic—just bring up something else. If you can’t do that gracefully, it’s fine to simply say that you are not comfortable with the discussion and ask if you can talk about something else.

Stay friendly, and avoid getting angry. If you have become upset and aren’t able to calm down after the subject has been changed, ask for a quick break, drink some water, spend a few minutes alone, and compose yourself before coming back.

Do not get into an argument.


Sometimes a photographer will begin to shoot content that you are not interested in being involved with, without asking and giving you the opportunity to decline. Sometimes this is because they shoot more graphic content with others and simply forgot your limits, and sometimes it’s because they are “slyly” attempting to gain images you didn’t agree to do.

It is important read the model release carefully; you don’t want to accidentally agree to something you’re not interested in doing.

Learn your angles to know what they’re aiming at

Learn your angles, so if the photographer starts aiming for more sexualized or blatant ones (like a shot of your vagina if you don’t do those, but are comfortable with art nudes), you can notice and say something. Attempting to get photos removed or deleted is not only a near impossible task for a model, but it’s a hassle and creates a lot of drama. Do everything in your power to simply avoid that situation in the first place.

Changing your pose to prevent shots you don’t want to be taken

If you notice just one attempt at something you may not be comfortable with, simply change your pose to match the angle in a way that you’re comfortable with; it may have been a mistake and I recommend that you assume it was. If you notice repeated attempts to catch something you don’t want to have a photo of (nip slip, or vagina shot, or whatever your limit is that the photographer is pushing), politely but firmly reiterate your limits.

Again, assume the photographer simply forgot for as long as you are comfortable doing so. If the photographer continues to push your limits, end the shoot. I’m comfortable repeating my limits as often as it is required, and I’m confident in my own ability to avoid graphic photos, so it takes a lot for me to leave, but your own comfort is what is important and you should not keep yourself in a situation that makes you uneasy.

The photographer is obviously ignoring your limits? Leave

If it has become obvious that the photographer is ignoring your limits on purpose, and you are not comfortable staying, then end the shoot and leave. Do not yell.

The only explanation that is required is, “I don’t feel like you are respecting my limits. I’m sorry, but I don’t feel comfortable and I’m going to go home”.


If something happens that would be grounds for sexual harassment at any corporate job (and makes you feel like you’ve been gravely disrespected), or seems threatening physically, but you don’t feel like it was sexual or physical assault, just leave. Don’t “chew them out”, or even feel a need to explain yourself if you’re not capable of doing so calmly. Leave the explanations for once you are safely out of the situation and have had a chance to calm down.

Models: Damianne Photographer: Will Hollis Snider

What to say after or when leaving

You do not need to explain yourself beyond a short “<thing that the individual during the shoot did> made me incredibly uncomfortable and I felt like I needed to leave”, and I would recommend avoiding speaking ill of the person, or going into the person’s character. Do not reschedule or put yourself into a situation with that person again.

If there are more people involved with the shoot, and the person that harassed you is not the one directing the shoot, immediately find the person that is directing the shoot (or whomever hired you), tell them quickly what happened, and that you are leaving. Discuss later.

You don’t have to continue afterwards—and neither do they

The individual directing the shoot may ask the person that harassed you to leave instead, but it’s up to you whether you still want to continue the shoot after that. Also, don’t demand that they do so. If you’re feeling harassed, leaving is the first option, and the only one that you can demand or control.

When you’re sexually or physically assaulted you leave and call the police

If you are sexually or physically assaulted, leave if possible and call the police. Do not stay near the person, do not threaten them—do not even speak to them. Cease all communication with the person that you feel assaulted you. Apologize to anyone else involved with the shoot after the fact, and offer a reschedule with them if you’re comfortable with it, but remove yourself first and foremost. If you feel the need, ask anyone and everyone around you for help in contacting the police or helping you leave, but do not ask them to handle the person that assaulted you (that’s the police’s job).

If you feel comfortable doing so, please contact [email protected] to report incidents of unprofessional behavior, verbal or physical abuse or sexual assault. Your report is confidential and handled by Model Mayhem staff and legal team.


I’ve already discussed details relating to when and how to leave a shoot, but I feel it’s necessary to give specific focus to the act of leaving, as a lot of thoughts, feeling, doubts, etc. pop up regarding leaving a business agreement.

You can leave whenever you want, for any reason, just know the consequences

Leaving is always an option; you are never required to stay. Understand that your relationship with that client is ended at that point, and that any agreements you made regarding photos or payment is forfeit if you don’t follow through on the shoot. Of course, these repercussions should not be enough to keep you in a bad situation.

The moment you feel disrespected, uncomfortable, or feel that someone may be dangerous, and you don’t feel capable of resolving it or doing so calmly, the most professional thing to do, and self-respectful thing to do, is to remove yourself.

Knowing that leaving is a valid option provides clarity of thought and action

Use this as a last option whenever possible, as it burns bridges, and the goal is to avoid extreme situations and handle mild ones with grace, but do not think it ever stops being an option for you.

Knowing I can leave whenever a problem escalates actually helps me handle situations better, as I do not feel the need to force the shoot to comply with my limits. This easygoing attitude can actually keep things more comfortable for all parties, and the calm but hard limits make it easier for other parties to understand and respect them.

Accept responsibility for leaving—“I was uncomfortable, I do not expect to see the pictures”

If you do leave the shoot, realize that the other party may not be impressed with your maturity and professionalism in leaving (though I promise they would if they realized that your other option was to create drama and conflict), so accept responsibility for ending the shoot.

Explain that you were uncomfortable, you do not expect to see pictures, and I would recommend giving them permission to use whatever photos were taken for their own use (unless the photos were the reason you became uncomfortable, and only if you feel ok doing so). Decline any offers for a reschedule politely, as it’s not a good idea to put yourself in the same situation twice.

The other party may not respond or act professionally, and may be upset; this does not mean it becomes a good idea for you to follow suit. Politely end contact.

How to make amends with those “Hanging to dry”

If you left a shoot and there were other parties left “hanging to dry” by your departure, explain the situation without placing blame (don’t create drama with character-attacks, just give them an explanation for why you left), and ask if they’d like to reschedule with you (for free if you were charging them), while replacing the party with whom you had an issue. If they don’t, be understanding and apologetic.


You may be tempted to seek retribution by publicly explaining what happened, or “outing” someone, but this is not a good idea. It will make you look incredibly unprofessional and overly dramatic, and lose you potential future clients.

No one else has any reason to believe you over your client, and it’s possible that some understandable situation occurred on their end that caused the problem.

Really, just don’t do this.

I don’t recommend “Do not recommend” lists

It is also tempting to put a “Do Not Recommend” list on your profile. I don’t recommend it, for all the reasons above. It’s dramatic and does more to hurt you than it does to help you.

The only option that I would recommend is networking. If you have relationships with models in your area, sharing information about the people you all work with will help you avoid these situations, and if you have experienced something already, you can help them avoid it.

Others won’t necessarily have the same experience you’ve had with a client

However, understand that your experience may not be everyone else’s experience with someone, and your word alone will not stop anyone from getting work in the future; a reputation takes lots of time and recurring instances to develop.

Do not threaten anyone with gossip.

Avoid drama in general, as you have your own reputation to concern yourself with. Drama is more toxic than a single instance of unprofessionalism, as unfair as that may seem to you.


A professional model is both friendly and complying with the shoot happily, or she/he leaves. Attempting to argue or create conflict is not in your best interest, and there are lots of ways to gracefully assert your limits without becoming aggressive. Avoid drama whenever possible, and simply refuse a shoot or leave if you are faced with a problem to the point that you feel the need to argue or yell.

Ending points to remember:

  • Avoiding uncomfortable situations in the first place is both your responsibility and the best way to handle unprofessional behavior.
  • Honesty is the best policy.
  • You can always leave a shoot if you need to in order to retain your professional attitude.
  • You cannot force anyone to do anything.
  • Avoid drama. Handle conflict calmly. Avoiding such things will get you more business.

Model: Damianne; Designer: Laura Dregger; Makeup Artist: Jenn Vatour; Photographer: Borsellino Photography


Damianne is a freelance model from Austin currently based in Edmonton. She travels for modeling but while at home loves to mess around on forums and set up creative shoots. She promises to start blogging or to eventually get her website up and running.

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117 Responses to “How to Deal with Unprofessional Behavior”

  1. June 04, 2018 at 8:19 am, Elizabeth Denise Leggin said:

    Nice article, although I don’t agree with the entirety of this.


  2. June 01, 2018 at 2:33 pm, Christopher Payne said:

    My very first shoot with a model back in 2002 I was doing a casual clothed shoot with a 16 yr old model. She was asked by me to bring a friend as a chaperone because I didn’t want any sort of accusations involving myself a 24 yr old male photographer and a 16 yr old female model.. However when I asked some neighborhood kids to leave the area of the shoot, trouble is just what we found. Leaving the wooded area behind my townhouse we ran into those kids and the mother of one of them who was on the phone talking with the police. Those little bastard kids had decided to take their revenge by telling the mother that we were shooting nudes in the woods.

    The cops came, and being a time before reliable digital photography I was shooting 35mm I offered my film rolls to the officer under the condition that my negatives were guaranteed returned. I joked that the police department was about to save me a small fortune in film processing. The officer after speaking to the model and her friend was confident that nothing out of sorts had taken place except for a couple of lying boys, and scolded and warned the mother about false police reports. A couple weeks later when meeting up with the model and her mother to deliver the promised prints, the story got brought up by my model and all of us had a good laugh about it. However when it was happening it certainly was no laughing matter. I had a model release signed by the model which was enough in my state at the time.. At the meet up I had the mom sign it as well just to be on the safe side. Always get a release signed. If anything to prove that it’s a legitimate shoot if people interrupt you or the police are called on a location.


  3. March 02, 2017 at 9:39 pm, Realphotographer said:

    headshots I agree 100%
    we have been placed on the spot a number of times by models being flexible and cheerful when the camera is pointing away from him and her and as soon as you place them in a frame, you may have packed up and gone home as they are no longer photogenic.
    Or you tell them walk to the far end of the room to get that active wow flowing shot and they may as well be pushing a shopping trolley as the spark fails to connect with the camera. If she or he is starting up 90% of the time they are open to learn as they are new and want to learn, but when you get the ones who talk about the money then you know is not the art they are interested in it’s all about the money. avoid them, as 1/2 the time they don’t think the company employing both the photographer and the model comes up with the money, and if the photographer does not get paid because the model has no glamour the model also won’t get paid for not delivering their service. we cannot do miracles with digital we can see it on the spot and fix it, but when you come from the old school you can see it before you lost the film and time I may swell shoot puppies and kittens they are always cute.


  4. August 29, 2016 at 7:55 pm, Mark Stockman said:

    This is why I don’t plan to use any Casting Calls. As a video producer doing my “apprenticeship” with other producers, I learned that happy models return and bring their friends. For example, I was lucky enough to work with the incredible Nyssa Nevers on a shoot, she got to know me, and when I started shooting I hired her for my first shoot with a professional model. I have already gotten a message from one of her model friends asking to shoot with me.
    Also, by doing my “apprenticeship” working with producers, I got excellent references.
    So, to recruit models, I find a model who has either worked with another producer who shoots what I shoot, or who is a friend of a model I have worked with. I ask them, “Hey, is (model) good to work with?” If they say yes, cool. That way, when I message them, I can say, “Hi! I have worked with (producer) and your friend (model) has shot with me. I like your work. Want to book a shoot?”
    Really looking forward to using “verified credits” on MM. “Yeah, I have shot with this guy twice. He’s totally harmless, his Lady is a great cook, and he only books paid shoots.”
    Also, as to being “creepy”, one of the producers I know was once told by a model that he “talked more like a cop or a doctor than a pornographer.” Behind the camera, he was totally businesslike. Instead of saying to the model “Turn around and show me your tits” he’d say something like “Okay, next, I want you to turn slowly toward the camera, and then pull down your top so the camera can see your breasts.” That may not sound like a big deal, but it is.


  5. July 07, 2016 at 10:18 am, abhay said:

    MM is a very good website., i hv done Good casting with its help while i understand there are many unprofessional ppl registered here many in name of fake pictures and fake models… best thing would be a filter page or option where we can report such ppl. india is a big country with thousands of models , photographer and good professionals but because of few ass holes whole system is blamed, any help from me i am always up for it.


  6. June 28, 2016 at 5:23 am, Harley said:

    Heeeelllll no. Totally disagree with the stupid and naive advice of “don’t out someone.”

    If someone in the community is abusive PEOPLE NEED TO KNOW.

    This article does not put the woman first. It puts the “community” first. What a fucking laugh.


    • December 14, 2017 at 11:50 am, Damianne Abel said:

      I honestly agree with you. This article is old.


    • July 29, 2018 at 8:07 pm, Paul Abruzzo said:

      Back to tumblr with you, snowflake.


  7. June 16, 2016 at 10:27 pm, Rob Goldsmith said:

    Some great points in there, especially for those in situations with model and shooter barely knowing each other. Fortunately, that’s never been my situation. Any problems I’ve had, like 1 in 20, literally, I’ll blame on misunderstandings and drama almost always beyond the scope of the shoot or the pics that resulted.


  8. May 25, 2016 at 3:34 pm, tekwrite said:

    SO how do you report a MODEL to MM who destroys property? NOTHING in your article about what a photographer can do when the “model” is in the wrong.! The article SHOULD be titled “How a model deals with unprofessional behaviour”.


  9. July 30, 2015 at 9:21 am, Miko=Photo+Fashion said:

    I would like to make a comment as a (straight) FEMALE photographer. One frustration I have is when glamour models (models published in glamour magazines or with sexy photos on their profiles for example) approach me wanting to shoot TF and I explain to them, very clearly stating that only they know their limitations and I want to be respectful of that, that I only shoot topless and nude glamour. I don’t just shoot lingerie and implied. I want to make that clear. And that I’m not going to ask them to take off their clothes. But every model I say that to gets SUPER offended if she does not shoot topless or nudes. I’m not saying that she “should” but I am expressing what it is that I shoot. And I’m worried that a model that’s offended might contort what I said and start trashing my reputation b/c of the kind of word of mouth you describe. It’s unfair.

    If she approaches me, why don’t I have the right to express, and I do so VERY politely and as a fellow woman that is not hitting on her, that I’m not interested in shooting clothed or implied for glamour work. I don’t want to make her feel bad, but if not, I’m not interested in shooting with her – because she doesn’t meet my expectations for a fashion/beauty model b/c of height, weight, look, lack of agency representation, as this is not just my hobby. (Of course I would never TELL HER that explicitly.)

    I thought I was being respectful by saying upfront what my expectations are for shooting glamour but models get SO SO offended if I bring this up. I’m not doing any of the things you mention in your article. Why am I getting such a hard time for being honest and upfront?


  10. July 23, 2015 at 12:28 pm, DigitalDudette said:

    Long article, but good advice. In my experience it sucks when models cancel the day of the shoot and when they take forever to answer their emails and calls. I now take that as they are not serious and immediately write them off. It is disrespectful to not give notice when you have already arranged makeup and the background props and everyone is standing around waiting for the model. Basically, treat each gig as a job and know that what you put in it is what you will get out. Be on time and ready and you won’t be wasting people’s time before and after.


  11. July 22, 2015 at 10:34 pm, Jared Ribic said:

    Very good article. Great advice on how to be professional, safe, and stay within your limits.


  12. July 22, 2015 at 9:25 pm, ManBoy said:

    I selected a photographer based on the great work she did for my friends and because of her experience in the industry. I paid her on arrival and kept a professional attitude. When working with females in the modelling industry I won’t even hug them unless we’ve met before. No touching or flirting. No sharing the same couch. I know how sleazy the industry can be. Despite all that the photographer seemed very uncomfortable with me being there. She barely spoke and when she did she was so quiet I could barely hear her. I was hoping to get some direction with the shoot as I’ve seen her do with my model friends. I’m not sure if the photographer was feeling sick that day or just felt really uncomfortable being stuck in her apartment with some other man (I was only ever in the studio or the bathroom). I felt like she was being overly cautious with me and possibly thought that if she engaged in conversation I’d take that as a sign of interest and make moves on her (or maybe I look REALLY sleazy??) So I quickly rushed the shoot to get out of there. Anyway, I wish I went to a different photographer ‘cos I didn’t get what I was expecting, even though the photos still turned out well. If she really did have a bad impression of me I wish she found some excuse to turn down the shoot in the first place.


  13. July 22, 2015 at 8:13 pm, Emily Schooley said:

    Good read overall, but the one thing I would disagree on is that if someone has endangered you (sexual, physical, whatever harassment), and especially if you have proof of it – warning other models, etc, can be a good thing to do. For example, there was recently a Toronto photog that attempted to solicit sex via FB from models. Those kind of messages SHOULD be shared to protect others from being exploited and victimized.


    • July 23, 2015 at 12:50 pm, Damianne Abel said:

      Honestly, my perspective on this has changed a lot since I wrote the article. I still don’t really recommend “do not recommend”lists on your profile, but the community of models and open information is super important to keeping others safe, and shouldn’t be silenced for fear of retribution.


      • July 24, 2015 at 1:58 am, Emily Schooley said:

        Oh for sure! I would agree that there is a huge difference between just sharing things in public without real context ie “omg I hate all these people” vs “this specific person tried to force me to do a nude shoot when we settled on this wardrobe instead”. Thanks for writing such a great article overall though, and I am glad to hear you’ve continued to learn and grow in your work. 🙂
        (Though hopefully you have been safe!!)


  14. July 22, 2015 at 5:20 pm, Gary Kilgore said:

    Compliments on this very thorough and thoughtful article. But, I would like to add a warning of a more serious nature. Models also need to be aware that, while Model Mayhem, tries to prohibit predators from the site, they have told me that they reject half of photographer applicants, there is always the possibility that a predator might slip through, or access a members account (roommate, relative, etc). I was pretty oblivious to model safety until last summer. A model friend asked me to drop her off at a shoot. As we were driving to the location, the “photographer” repeatedly texted the model that he was running a few minutes late, but would be there shortly. We drove into a nice looking apartment complex, and waited for the “photographer” to arrive. He continued to text the model, and we soon realized that the nice looking apartment complex was infested with a lot of rough young men, that didn’t seem to have anything to do, except mill around near my car, and watch us constantly. We sat there for 45 minutes, the texts continued, the model and I were becoming very alarmed. Eventually, we drove off and within a few minutes of our departure, the “photographer” called the model, saying he was now there, and asking where she was. Of course, we did not return. I will never know for certain what lay in store for my model friend, if I had dropped her off, instead of staying with her (the “photographer” knew that a friend was dropping her off). When I viewed the “photographer”s MM page, it looked quite innocent, and actually, at first, I thought the guy was gay. But, the deeper I looked, the more problems I saw: rank amateur photos mixed with very professional photos; a tag written by a traveling model, who stopped checking her MM page around the date she stated that she would be in the “photographer’s” town; a tag by another girl that read like it was written by a man, not a woman….I made a police report, through “Crime Stoppers”. In my opinion, I think there was a very good possibility that my model friend was lured to that apartment to be captured and sold. Think about it, Model Mayhem is a catalog of beautiful women, and in the wrong hands, it can be horribly abused. Be careful, be sure you know who you are meeting!


  15. July 22, 2015 at 4:04 pm, James Douglas said:

    I’ve just started shooting some models, mostly in experienced and have wanted a good relationship with them, so i tell them;
    1. I have coffee or lunch beore the shoot, showing the model what we will be shooting.
    2. They are welcome to bring some one with them, girlfriend, boy friend or rottweiler 😉 as long as they don’t interfere .
    3. They are paid at the beginning of the shoot so I can’t hold the payment over their heads.
    4. They always get prints and a CD with JPEGs, though sometimes I’m slow at getting them put together.
    5. At the beginning of the shoot they are told that if anything makes them uncomfortable, speak up and what ever is making them uncomfortable stops.

    I’ve used several waitresses at my favorite Twin Peaks, so having a model go back to work and tell their co-workers that I got out of line would be the end of any other of the girls modeling for me.

    I think a model should always expect to bring some one with them and should turn down a photographer who says no to them being escorted, especially for nude or near nude shoots


  16. July 22, 2015 at 2:40 pm, panda said:

    what do you do about smoking?
    i am a non smoker wth asthma so the photographer said they would smoke outside but just smoked in the room with door open but all the smoke just blew back in the room, they smoked every 20 minutes from 11.30 to 3.30 it was so bad i had a headache sore throat, short of breath and felt sick and still feel ill a day later.
    any advise would be greatly appreciated



    • July 23, 2015 at 12:51 pm, Damianne Abel said:

      Same as everything else.
      – Clearly state your needs, and reiterate if you feel it’s reasonable.
      – End the shoot and leave if they are not being respected.


  17. July 22, 2015 at 1:07 pm, Bobby Deal said:

    Halfway through this article I can’t finish reading it because it simply grants unprofessional photographers a carte blanche for their unprofession behavior. This attitude is as damamaging to the legitimate photographers. As photograhers we have a obligation to stand against the kind of behavior illustrated in this article rather than simply dismiss it by saying the model has no real recourse.

    Those of us who derive our living from photographry feel the repercussions of this unprofessional behavior and to simple stand by and accept it is as apathetic as it gets. Each of us is a warden to the future of this industry. As such we have a responsibility to teach others the ethics of the industry and to defend it when the need arises.


  18. July 22, 2015 at 12:59 pm, Hlpuig said:

    What I extract from this article is that women still are sexual objects, specially if you are a model so they have to pass some things that they shouldn’t in any other business because of the nature of the job. This is the most absurd and insulting thing I ever heard.

    I personally get the same excitement when taken a picture of a house or a nude woman. Is not the objects is the creative and the creation processs( how you do it and not The objects ) if you have feeling or attraction for a model during a shoot you shot be the professional and end the shoot as you are compromising her and so the profession. As a professional you should leave all this crap out off the studio and treat the model as you would like to be treated. You should give all the info,not the models been asking for it..

    We all still have the right to say no. It’s a blame to hear that reputation is based on been extra polite and for most of the woman to say yes and brake their limits a little bit more everytime.

    Respect is respect- period. Don’t make it look in to our benefict.

    A true profesional shouldn’t take advantage of their situation, nor a photographer, policeman or politician. Is the social impunity that makes everything mediocre

    If you are a model look for respect. Starting for respecting your self and avoid weirdos as you do in any other daily situation


  19. July 22, 2015 at 12:33 pm, Tori said:

    I’ve seen far more unprofessional behavior on the part of photographers than models. It doesn’t matter whose side it’s on it a falls under the heading of unacceptable. I found the article to be very helpful.


  20. July 22, 2015 at 11:58 am, Bill P said:

    Love this!! Its a great read and very insightful. I only wish that I had read more like this before I got into modeling. My first shoot was very uncomfortable to me and as a result has partially held me back a bit in my true potential. I did just stick it out as did the women involved with the shoot.


  21. July 22, 2015 at 11:52 am, Ashby_Sassafras_III said:

    It would be worth doing this again giving advice to new photographers, too. Models can be just as irresponsible as photographers. And their bad behavior does sometimes involve sexual manipulation–not just the inconveniences caused by failing to show up, or showing up filthy and smelly (which happened to me once). I once had a model make sexual advances to me and try to extort money–to take just one example of more serious, possibly criminal behavior. It’s not always the photographers that are unprofessional.


  22. July 22, 2015 at 11:29 am, Marc Esadrian said:

    This was a good article. I’d like to see a version from the perspective of the photographer, too. Believe it or no, we encounter our share of oddities, flakes, divas, and no-shows.


  23. July 22, 2015 at 11:24 am, marco a. poshar said:

    very good writing , There should be a site that alerts models , about photographers trying to exploit young and innocent models , and there are plenty of them , This industry should be cleaned , long time ago , ,,,,,,,


  24. July 22, 2015 at 11:21 am, Talya Price said:

    The same could be said for casting directors and film directors who demand that their female talent to sleep with them in order to get “casted”.


    • May 12, 2017 at 8:05 am, Peter Bliss said:

      It’s crazy that ANY casting director/photographer demand anything except professionalism from Models. Maybe that is because I was raised to respect EVERYONE and that includes models or maybe it’s because I’m old fashioned or just old. I don’t shoot nudes and I mainly shoot on the beach so most models are comfortable. I get so much flack because the OTHER photographer is hitting on the model I want to shoot and they let me know they had a “Bad” experience. Hey if you can’t be a pro and RESPECT Woman then get out of this industry.


  25. July 22, 2015 at 10:40 am, Jim Daniel said:

    I’m on MM as Daniel NorthWest.

    I understand this is strictly form the models perspective, and I am embarrassed by the goings-on with some photographers. That said, how about an article dealing with unprofessional behavior by models.

    Let’s hear about the no show, the late show, the DIva, the missing wardrobe or prop, the lack of competence and lack of interest in producing a meaningful result, the model offering my work for sale without my permission. I have rarely had any sort of misunderstanding because I shoot rather tame stuff, and I almost insist on meeting the model, face to face, a few days before the shoot.

    PAY: Clearly, I want the model to worry about other things, so I pay in cash at the beginning of the shoot.
    REFERENCES: If you’re a model, you can contact others who have photos in the photographers port.


    • July 22, 2015 at 4:59 pm, Paul said:

      Jim – you summed up the photographer’s point of view nicely!

      One problem I have seen is the model being distracted by a friend who brought her to the shoot. That presents a problem for everyone involved – the model, the photographer and the friend. In a truly professional shoot, the director of the shoot whether it be the photographer or art director needs to take charge.

      My two cents on this interesting topic.


      • July 22, 2015 at 5:24 pm, Jim Daniel said:

        “OMG, He’s like my “Escort. AND He’s like my boyfriend. He really wants to be, you know, a photographer, you know, and he has lots and lots of great ideas for you. He just wants to be so sure I’m real safe and stuff, and he’ll make sure that you get some really great shots, you know!”

        That’s the point where I quietly put my gear back in the cases, put the cases in the van, and drive off. If I know about that in advance, the shoot never comes close to happening.

        See my MM for a whole paragraph on “ESCORTS.”


  26. July 22, 2015 at 10:34 am, Cucullin said:

    This entire article is horrifying. Not only are you telling models to only advocate for themselves as a last resort, you are asking them to be complicit in the perpetuation of this cycle of violence, abuse and misogyny that is so rampant throughout this site. This site is disgusting, I am going to remove my profile and I recommend that others do too. If you choose to continue to use this site, Please know that MM does not support you and would rather keep you quiet and complicit then deal with the multitude of creeps who are exploiting.


  27. July 22, 2015 at 10:21 am, tekwrite said:

    it SHOULD have been entitled “How MODELS should deal with unprofessional behaviour” since that is what the entire article is .about. I disagree about using a photographer’s portfolio as the basis for what you will shoot. So conversely, if a MODEL posts nudes she may not wish to do anymore of them. People have photos on their portfolio because they are PROUD of them. It may not be what they are wanting to shoot.


  28. March 12, 2013 at 3:49 pm, Daniel Allen said:

    Coming from the other side of the lens (photographer) I find this article really fascinating to read! I primarily shoot erotic photography and a LOT of the problems listed here are really a surprise to me–despite that some of them (especially the sexual situations) seem like they’d directly relate to my genre! Sure I’ve had models express interest or “hope” that something more was going to happen, but if I even notice (usually I’m so focused on getting the picture) I typically just pretend I didn’t. The few times it’s happened, they usually get the hint I’m not interested.

    Still just really floored that there’s models out there who’ve gone through even HALF of these issues. Wow! Reading about all of the things that my next model may have had to go through during a shoot sure makes me want to double my efforts to make him/her as comfortable as possible while they’re shooting with me!

    Great article!


  29. March 12, 2013 at 1:21 pm, Michael Albany said:

    Models should always take an escort. I encourage all models I work with to do so. I also ask that they not be art critics but that is beside the point. Escort relax the model and while I am futzing with lights, gels or whatever it takes the conversation pressure off of me. I get the escort and the model to start goofing off and then when i bring the shoot back into focus (pun intended), I have a more relaxed, more flexible model to work with.

    Even if you are a photographer that doesn’t want to have a conversation with the escort, turn them into a VAL (Voice Activated Light stand) and your model will be more relaxed and the images you get will show it.


  30. March 06, 2013 at 5:27 am, Michael Abela said:

    A very well thought and delivered piece of article. It is load with vital knowledge that it would take a photographer months and years of work if he had to find on his own through trial and error.


  31. March 03, 2013 at 12:05 pm, Robert said:

    This is thoughtful, well-written article that has great insights not only for models, but for professional behavior in any context.


  32. March 03, 2013 at 10:49 am, Dav Ero said:

    Dear Damianne,

    As a gesture to my faith and respect in a model’s professionalism I would like to pay half a requested fee for a session but I don’t because models will, too often, cancel at the last minute. I can show you a series of E-mails from this last week where two different women were expressing eagerness to work with me and the night before, and the other the day of the shoot, they messaged me a “nocando”. That’s Spanglish for “I ain’t gonna make it”.
    Many don’t even give notice.

    Since I make CDs of my music and I feature “PG -17” ( no nipples or labia, as you term it … I had to look “Labia” up) centerfolds for their graphic art work the sometimes contemptuous aspect of nudity was involved in both of the sessions alluded to above. But, as in all cases, the elements agreed to that comprised the shoot were clearly defined and limited to those the models found acceptable.
    I understand that, due to Mr. Hefner’s achievements in making glamorized nude women a stable of American and European culture, the female’s psyche nurtures the public acknowledgement of her unadorned self. In that regard, committing to pose nude is fulfilling a fantasy but, in my experience, to often, as Hamlet would say is “More honour’d in the breach than the observance”.

    I put my nudes on MM and my more fashion oriented stuff is at One Model Place. There I’m Dav Ero, # 76550.

    Thank you



  33. March 03, 2013 at 8:06 am, RJ Photography said:

    What you posted here is almost like what I tell all the
    models I work with weather they are new or very experienced. I am glad to see
    you post this and hope a LOT of people read
    it. You are right on with your points. As a photographer I know if a shot is
    going to come out good the model needs to feel safe and comfortable. I bend
    over backwards to do just that and it all starts with the first contact. I
    encourage models and photographers to read this and learn from it.

    Great job with this article. You hit everything right on the
    head. OH and I feel hot topics that I know will get under a persons skin are
    not a good idea to talk about. Well unless I am doing a shoot where I want the
    model to look really mad lol.


  34. March 01, 2013 at 6:21 pm, Bruce Kahn said:

    This was a great article. I especially liked the advice to communicate clearly and be very specific about expectations and agreements before the shoot.
    I always meet with a perspective model before hand to make sure we both completely understand the goals of the shoot ahead of time.
    Because I do shoot nudes, being very clear and explicit, understanding expectations and boundaries, is imperative. I have had no “uncomfortable moments” in a shoot by following this process.


  35. March 01, 2013 at 4:45 pm, Vendito said:

    It needs to be pointed out that the a**holes are still in the minority and that checking references is the best policy. Not only does this give you a sense of who the person you are working with is but it also let bad actors know that you know people they know and if they misbehave it will have consequences beyond just you being pissed off.

    Well written as it is, this covers some seriously well trodden ground. I understand that we all want models to be protected and feel that they are working in a safe environment. As a photographer, I find it really counterproductive and fairly infuriating when models are either super uncomfortable and on edge while shooting or stop shooting all together because they have had a bad experience in the past. If I had my druthers, all of the bad photographers would be rounded up, have their cameras taken away and be forced to wear a t-shirt that proclaims their scumbagginess in no uncertain terms.

    That being said, I’d like to see an equivalent article about handling unprofessional model behavior. In the three years I’ve been working on my current project I’ve had a very tiny number of models who have behaved incredibly unprofessionally. Starting with showing up with the borderline psychotic roommate who wanted to be more than a roommate and chose to demonstrate his ability to “protect” the model by showing me the firearm in the waistband of his jeans while speaking in a threatening manner about how he knows that all photographers are just after one thing (he meant great art! right?). The model who thought it was okay to openly consume cocaine in the studio between shots (It is not, in fact it’s not even appropriate to consume cocaine in secret between shots. This is my place of business.). And the charming individual who assumed that because I shoot nudes she would be able to build a portfolio for her adult film career by masturbating without asking if that was appropriate (not the kind of work I want a gallery owner to see with my name attached to it, thanks. Nothing against the adult film industry, some of the most pleasant models I have worked with are adult performers looking to have something pretty to hang on their walls).

    My point is that there are plenty of people on both sides of the lens who engage in inappropriate behavior yet we only ever seem to hear about the bad photographers unless we are being subjected to yet another in the litany of screeds about models who don’t show up for shoots (I do not call them flakes because that is unfair to dandruff which serves a useful purpose int hat it tells you your scalp needs to be moisturized). Perhaps the editors could expand the range of topics covered by including some topics beyond the standard “photographers are perverts” “models are flakes” range. I believe tax time is rapidly approaching here in the US, maybe some tips on how the self employed should deduct their Model Mayhem memberships by claiming that this is a professional association…


  36. March 01, 2013 at 8:13 am, dbwalton said:

    Great advice Damianne. Your article is written from the model’s point of view. A few items from the photographer’s point of view that I’ve come across. Number 3 problem is interfering chaperones. Even though I have a chair for them where the model cannot see them, some of them just don’t get it and they continually distract the model. (I welcome chaperones, but they need to understand they are there to make the model feel safe, and they should not be involved during the shoot unless asked by the photographer.) Number 2 problem are aspiring models arriving to their appointment stoned, drunk or with a hangover. Some times this may not appear to be the case until you’ve started the shoot. Number 1 problem is arriving late. If modeling is that important to you, leave early enough that you arrive 5-10 minutes early. Plan on getting lost or not finding the address, and if that puts you there too early, stop for a coffee break.


  37. March 01, 2013 at 12:06 am, RJM said:

    A fantastic article. Your thoughts are coming from the mind of a professional model… many, if not most models are not at your level therefore unable to conduct, communicate and express their thoughts in a similar manner. As a result, they may be treated with less care than you. Meaning your sophistication commands more respect than many of your colleagues. I’m not saying that’s ‘right’… it just is.


  38. February 28, 2013 at 1:59 pm, NYMPH said:

    I heard a great piece of advice regarding inappropriate comments: repeat it back. When a photographer says something that is out of line, or in a vague uncomfortable zone, say it back to them. Oftentimes they will say something without realizing how it sounds.


  39. February 28, 2013 at 11:42 am, headshots Los Angeles said:

    I really wish MM would do more articles from the photographers’ POV.

    There is just as much or more unprofessional behavior coming from models as there is photographers. You can generally tell if a photographer is a perv just by looking at his work. It’s a lot harder to tell if a model is a flake or a diva just by looking at her photos.


    • July 22, 2015 at 11:01 am, Marilyn White said:

      I’d love to write an article for MM, from the POV of a photographer. I have done some modelling over the years since I was 18. I sometimes still do, but my main focus these days is my writing while pursuing a psychology degree. I belong to a local photography group and I’d love to interview the photographer’s of the group to get their side of the story out. I also write for the YWCA blog here in the Niagara Region. I’d even write the article on a volunteer basis. So if anyone knows how I can make this happen, please advise me. Thanks!


    • July 22, 2015 at 11:31 am, Anjel Britt said:

      Yes, there will be just about as much or more unprofessional behavior coming from models as there is photographers, although theirs causes inconvenience or mayhem it would not be as serious as assault, intimidation or be based on quite such dangerous sexual issues. They are not the ones taking and holding images that can be used for harassment after the fact either.
      You cannot possibly know if a photographer is a perv or a nightmare to work with just by looking at his work!!!!
      Asking for several personal references where you clearly state that you will not share the info they give you and that if they have a problem they can tell you in confidence is essential to meaningful checking before acceptance.

      Yes, it’s a lot harder to tell if a model is dumb as a rock, a flake, or a diva (or even had to be talked into every pose with no modeling skill whatsoever) just by looking at her photos…. But your email or phone discussions with her should be phrased to gauge her interest level, enthusiasm, experience, insight and intelligence.
      Don’t skim on the planning, re word requests and details or questions and send aback the answers re phrased if you have to, to make sure you are on the same page. Send images that show your vision for the shoot even if they are not you own … and be certain to point out they are not YOUR work.

      Maybe I should write an article: I was a Nude model internationally for many years and for the last 5 have worked as a photographer. I host many shoots or classes teaching both models and photographers and I book models via MM and other sources for serious photographers who want to shoot Fashion, Nude or Lingerie ( sharing the cost and wanting a teacher / assistant / chaperone present).

      ”Creative endeavors” can be left to run on instinct or blind luck – but they benefit from just as much communication and on paper planning as a less creative business arrangement to foster success on all sides!


      • July 23, 2015 at 12:14 pm, Michael Norris said:

        Just FYI… models are just as capable of intimidation and manipulation… and many have no trouble bringing drama into the mix.

        One thing worse than being sexually harassed, is being accused of it unjustly… and having your reputation dragged through the mud…


      • January 16, 2017 at 6:17 pm, D.M said:

        Well said, Anjel. Bravo. Unethical, creepy photogs should be banned permanently from MM. It is not a pickup site nor a place to find models that do what is basically pornography, and not art at all.


    • January 16, 2017 at 6:15 pm, D.M said:

      I believe they did when discussing payment/compensation. It is just better for everyone to discuss arrangements including the location/s and compensation, as well as an estimated time (total) which both parties agree to, and payment form: is there 50% given up front? Models must be clear that they do or do not do certain styles, and if a model does not wish to shoot erotic or nude photography, the photog has no right to even attempt to do it. I do not see any ethical reason a photographer requires a model to do ‘open leg’ nude photos. I believe these people should not be on MM – try frontpage or something. Just my 2 cents worth.


  40. November 16, 2012 at 12:53 pm, JM Howe said:

    I always recommend a model bring a friend to the shoot. They have someone there they feel comfortable with so they relax and the shoot goes much smoother. I just request the friend not interrupt the shoot by offering advice or constantly chatting. If I need to touch the model I always ask permisiion first and never go anywhere near they’re private areas.


    • March 08, 2013 at 12:05 pm, Caterina Maria said:

      This seems like a common sense measure, especially if you’ve never worked with someone before, or haven’t worked with that person very often. Since this is not an ideal world, why would I go to meet a (near-)stranger without backup?


    • July 23, 2015 at 12:23 pm, Michael Norris said:

      Totally agree… anyone, Photographer or Model who refuses an Escort should have their motives questioned. I reserve the right to put escorts to work helping carry gear, holding lights/reflectors, adjusting hair, I have had way more great experiences with escorts than bed… always nice to have an extra set of eyes to watch details.
      I take the Ask before touching a step farther… I ask before getting into the models’ “bubble”… if I have to get close for ANY reason, I always ask first… even if I’m not actually going to touch the model. It’s a respect thing, and the professional thing to do.


      • September 01, 2016 at 1:28 am, Sultan said:

        I disagree. both sides should work without escorts unless you know everyone involved on some level. what if the model’s escort tries to rob you of your expensive equipment? your white knight ass probably never considered that.


        • September 01, 2016 at 6:28 am, Michael Norris said:

          A troll is as a troll does…


          • September 01, 2016 at 12:14 pm, Sultan said:

            its a valid assertion tool

      • September 26, 2016 at 4:55 pm, Malleus Veritas said:

        That is a very ill-considered suggestion.

        If you tell the “escort” to do something, you are legally liable for their damages if they injure themselves or someone else or break something. From a liability standpoint, any harm they come to on your set leaves you open for a lawsuit. If you are renting equipment and the escort damages it, you’re on the hook for the replacement cost. Hope you have a general liability policy that covers your additional risk exposure.

        Furthermore, an untrained assistant is a hindrance, not an help. I have my own assistants who I have trained to do what I need done the way I want it to be done. I’m not giving free lessons on how to be a photographer’s assistant.

        Grown-ups go to work without babysitters. If you want to bring your babysitter to work, that means I need to hire security to supervise your babysitter to make sure s/he doesn’t cause trouble, interrupt the shoot, break or steal anything, or hurt themselves or anyone else. If you insist on it, I’m going to charge you for the additional inconvenience, risk, and expense. $100/hr fee aught to cover it. Don’t like it? Don’t let the door hit you on the ass on your way out.


        • January 10, 2017 at 12:58 pm, Sultan said:

          Well said Malleus


      • July 28, 2018 at 6:10 pm, Robert Silvers said:

        I agree that if someone refuses an escort, it is worth thinking about what that means, but there are legit reasons to not want one there. First, I know when I do any work in any field – say computer programming, or car repair – it is very distracting to have someone standing by me watching my work. Photography is no different. Second, it distracts the model. I worked with one who looked to her boyfriend for approval on each setup. It was a creative wet blanket because you have to try lots of different things and some give great results and some don’t and you decide during editing.


  41. April 13, 2012 at 10:34 pm, Mason said:

    Fantastic read. I already have my own policies to help prevent any potential unpleasantness during a shoot in place (such as bring an escort, no touching between photographer and model, etc) but I found reading about this from a model’s perspective was really insightful. 


  42. April 09, 2012 at 9:28 pm, annon said:

    quite disappointing to see the author of this article in the brig for personal attacks.


  43. March 26, 2012 at 5:30 pm, Professor_Oni said:

    I made a comment yesterday that was redacted.  Can anyone tell me what the policy is that decides which comments are allowed to stay.  It was, I feel, a very relevant concern regarding the author and the way she presents herself on MM juxtaposed to her being recognized as an expert on professionalism in the context of publishing this article.


    • March 26, 2012 at 7:19 pm, Professor_Oni said:

       Seems to be there now.  Thanks


  44. March 26, 2012 at 4:50 am, Professor_Oni said:

    I find it very interesting, and quite ironic that when I click the link to the author’s port, I see a model named “Filthy McNipples”

    Great example of professionalism!


  45. March 17, 2012 at 6:56 pm, Riyalight said:

    I find it terribly sad that mm has to censor comments so that opinions can’t be freely expressed unless they agree with the article and the poster.  Why even bother allowing comments if you are only fishing for compliments and will not allow criticism of the article or poster which in this case clearly has no business giving out advice that she herself never takes on this site.  


    • March 24, 2012 at 2:50 am, Damianne said:

      MM is censoring comments? Yours seems to have made it through, and it’s hardly complimentary.


  46. March 05, 2012 at 10:14 am, Artphoto said:

    Wonderful post. Thank you.
    Can I translate your article into Polish language and place it on the Polish Model-website?


  47. March 05, 2012 at 5:47 am, Waltmorton said:

    It is often assumed that the photographer will be the “problem” that the model needs to deal with. You regularly hear that the evil photographer is in the employer/power position and may exploit the model in any of a number of ways. He will want to date her or cross boundaries and take some kind of photograph the model is not comfortable with. I find that the solution in 99% of the cases is clarity BEFORE the shoot. You have to read between the lines. Don’t hire a model for a nude shoot if she has no nudes in her portfolio. You KNOW she won’t be comfortable — why push it? There are plenty of other models who are comfortable with what you want. I always email extensively to be SURE models to know exactly what they are getting into, what kind of poses, what style, what level of nudity, etc. This solves many problems. What it does not solve is the improper (even criminal) behavior on the part of some models. I have worked with models who were total professionals — AMAZING — a joy to work with who were creative and collaborative and added so much to the results. I have also worked with unenthused models who were just there for the money — like photographing dead fish at the market (but you always take risks when you hire a model you have not worked with before.) The models who watch the clock and just want cash that’s a creative wet blanket . And worse — I have worked with models who were there for their own good times, doing drugs while I tried to get the photos I needed. What’s a photographer to do? I’ve already paid the models and I need to get my shots. Do I “fire” the employee I’ve already paid because they are a coke-head? Or do I try to muddle through an unfocused mess of a shoot? It’s just too easy to always cast the photographer as the “bad guy” and I am sure there are many creepy guys out there calling themselves photographers. But the behavior of many – MANY – of the models out there is not snow white perfection. There are just as many screwy fallible human models out there as photographers. It’s important to realize that there are many kinds of unprofessional behavior and you can find it in models, photographers, even the pizza delivery guy who shows up two hours late. These are the challenges that make creative life interesting. If you can’t handle it, you can always go work at a Starbucks.


  48. March 04, 2012 at 2:40 pm, Vic said:

    Well written, and helpful for both models and photographers. Thank you!


  49. March 04, 2012 at 12:16 am, Not Unprofessional to be Blunt said:

    I don’t entirely agree with how to respond as far as their rights to photos if they’ve been unprofessional. Even if it was not the photos that were against a model’s agreement or comfort, but if there is inappropriate touching or threats, sure as all hell I would not tell them they can “Certainly use any photos taken for personal use and I don’t expect to see the results of the shoot.” Abuse is not part of an agreement, and it is entirely professional to tell them they’ve violated an agreement in an obviously inappropriate way, and are thereby not permitted to use the photos. It’s not unprofessional to call someone out for effectively using a “casting couch,” and saving face/taking the fault is not the only way to maintain professionalism when someone has blatantly disrespected their position in a photoshoot. This post applies to the unambiguously sexual indecency encounters.


    • March 04, 2012 at 5:51 pm, Damianne said:

      I was referring to say, if you had a problem with the MUA and had to leave and the photographer was just SOL from the whole situation. I’ll request an edit for clarity.


      • March 04, 2012 at 5:55 pm, Damianne said:

        Oh, edit to my edit, that’s in the part before that… if the situation isn’t sexual, and you’re comfortable with the photos, I see no problem with giving permission to use them. I’ll edit that section to be absolutely clear that should be an option to keep it from being a blown up drama as long as the model is 100% comfortable with doing so.


  50. March 03, 2012 at 3:56 pm, Treats Threads said:

    Well written and informing. I love that she shares both sides of the industry.


  51. March 02, 2012 at 6:21 am, Chandlerimages said:

    great article! Bravo, well said! ~Gary


  52. March 02, 2012 at 1:07 am, New York Attorney said:

    Why the hell tell a moderator at a web site anything?! If it is a real criminal offense, tell law enforcement. If it isn’t, it’s your word and what the hell should a moderator do? The only reason moderators ask for this kind of stuff is an overinflated sense of authority or power trip.

    If it is a criminal offense and you get someone brought up on charges or convicted, bypass the moderators and tell the site’s administration directly so they can do something based on court documents that they can verify.


    • March 02, 2012 at 5:05 am, Eleanor R said:

      We tell the moderators because they can often take steps to get a predator removed from the site. They are the people whom the administrators put in power to handle these situations, and therefore it is more professional to approach them than the administrators.

      Of course it is best to contact law enforcement first. Unfortunately however, many models have had issues with law enforcement not believing them, or thinking that because they do internet modeling (especially when shooting nudes) that they somehow asked for or deserved the assault. The moderators on this site have two distinct advantages. They have a bearing on the industry that law enforcement may not, and are more likely to listen to the model rather than viewing her as having asked to be victimized. They also allow for the possibility that accusations may be false, and look for repeated patterns in order to remove a member. If you report someone to a moderator, that pattern will either be initialized or repeated, getting them member booted more quickly. The police may have only heard about this person once, while the mods have had several complaints of issues small enough that the model felt uncomfortable going to the police but still thought warranted attention.


      • March 02, 2012 at 10:47 pm, New York Attorney said:

        If a moderator can remove someone based just on an accusation without any proof or even the involvement of law enforcement, there’s a big problem. If, on the other hand, law enforcement is involved, a moderator is the wrong person to tell. Administration should be told. That would be Internet Brands. So in no case should a moderator ever be involved. Either they’re acting on an unproven accusation, or they’re being involved in an ongoing criminal case. Neither situation is appropriate.


        • July 22, 2015 at 11:26 am, Marc Esadrian said:

          I fully agree. We had a long, drawn-out conversation like this over on Fetlife, too, about arbitrarily “naming abusers.” The premise behind the idea was well-intentioned, of course, but the potential for abuse was much too high.


  53. March 02, 2012 at 12:32 am, Julian Wilde said:

    Exceedingly well written! And by a model who clearly knows the ropes. -JULIAN


  54. March 01, 2012 at 9:38 pm, After1938 said:

    Really an excellent article, beautiful said and could prevent a lot of misunderstandings if followed.


  55. March 01, 2012 at 7:11 pm, A Random Art Model said:

    Most of this is sound advice, however I wish more attention was paid to how to conduct oneself as a “professional”. How do you properly word an email? Is it polite to cold-call/message people, leave tags saying “I will be in your area” when looking for work? In the case of assault or sexual harassment, it is always best to get to a safe place and call the police ASAP, and go to a hospital in case of rape to do a rape kit. You should NOT concern yourself with maintaining professionalism if someone is truly attacking you. Your life is more important than getting pictures or your day rate, so do whatever is necessary to get out of that situation. I have worked with hundreds of people over the past 5 years, and honestly the instances where I even had to concern myself with this were few and far between; however, knowing how to conduct oneself comes up on a daily basis. A good way to know how to conduct oneself is to take pointers from established models, artists, and photographers. Even though I am experienced, I still take pointers and advice from more knowledgeable people; it takes a community, not one person, to know what is “professional”.


  56. March 01, 2012 at 4:57 pm, Billsutherland said:

    She lives in Edmonton? Canada? Does she even have a green card?


    • March 02, 2012 at 12:40 am, Damianne said:

      I totally would, if Canada had green cards.


  57. March 01, 2012 at 4:54 pm, Carlos David said:

    Excellent, you display a level of maturity rarely seen.


  58. March 01, 2012 at 4:21 pm, Kgphoto said:

    I think this is a great and well though out and well presented article. I am going to make it recommended reading for all models. Excellent Job.

    @JT – while I think we can all agree that professionalism is the watchword on all professional shoots, and photographers should not hit on models, I think that we have to leave some room for the fact that ALL sessions on MM or others are not entirely professional. Some models like to hit on photographers and if you ignore them, they are insulted. Certainly this happened more in my youth than today, but it did happen.

    Nowadays, just keeping it light and fun, with the flirting going on from a distance and ending with the session, is the method I get people, including couples that I am shooting for their engagement portraits, to relax and not think about the camera.

    All women appreciate sincere flattery, and that is all I mean by flirting. That and making jokes or humorous comments. NO touching, except where required and professionally directed at improving the shot. I.E. adjusting garments, moving hair, adjusting limbs, and ALL with permission.


  59. March 01, 2012 at 2:34 pm, Rdavis7085 said:

    Kudos…I applaud the time you spent on a common (to MM especially) subject.


  60. March 01, 2012 at 11:46 am, Eli said:

    Contract, contract, contract. Can’t express this enough.

    Knowing when, where, what you’re doing and what you get saves you so much time. Anyone who refuses usually has something to hide!


  61. March 01, 2012 at 5:58 am, reuben dixon said:

    Love this article. Clearly written and great advice


  62. March 01, 2012 at 4:54 am, Iona said:

    It would help if the author is an experienced professional traveling model before submitting this sort of article, I am aware that the issue of the full time traveling models rarely have time to submit these sorts of articles but this is just a one eyed jack leading the blind. Try getting people with real experience to write for you.


    • March 01, 2012 at 3:03 pm, Mike Robison said:

      Best I can tell, she IS an “experienced professional traveling model.” As in, she’s been doing this a while, she gets paid, and she travels.

      But, the article doesn’t appear to be directed at “traveling models.” Just models.


    • March 02, 2012 at 5:09 am, Eleanor R said:

      Damianne is an experienced professional traveling model. She has real experience, and is a very respected member of the Model Mayhem community.


  63. March 01, 2012 at 1:31 am, Guest said:

    The only thing I saw that I didn’t really agree with was about how you shouldn’t shoot clothed stuff with someone who has nudes in his portfolio.


    • March 01, 2012 at 1:49 am, Brian Diaz said:

      I don’t think that was said at all. Can you quote where that is stated?


      • March 01, 2012 at 3:21 am, Artphoto1 said:

        Brian; I got the impression she said that it’s not wise to shoot with someone who has ONLY nudes if you aren’t interested in nudes. I’m sure the same would apply to bondage, or head shots.

        I don’t think Damianne is saying that it’s bad for a model who doesn’t do nudes to work with a photographer who has nudes as part of a broad portfolio, as long as they’re clear about limits.


        • March 01, 2012 at 4:17 am, Damianne said:

          Not even that far, just that extra care should be taken if you are only comfortable with headshots and a photographer usually (or even only) shoots nudes, as far as setting limits goes. Also that if you want to do parka modeling you probably shouldn’t ask a Playmate for references on who to work with.

          If you’re referring to the part before that:
          It’s not about working with people with the same portfolio as you’re looking for (although that’s wise), it’s that if you get creeped out by a portfolio (I assume art nudes are typically not creepy, although to some they might be), it might not be a good idea to force a shoot. In the end no one is walking out of it happy unless the photographer is 100% comfortable changing the direction of their photography. It boils down to “don’t work with people if you don’t like their work.”


    • April 04, 2012 at 4:42 pm, Leannnleah said:

      wow u gave that your own interpretation lol


  64. March 01, 2012 at 12:48 am, Vala said:

    Great article. And some of that applies for photographers too. Although if it’s your studio, leaving isn’t always an option. If I’m working with a male client that I’m not familiar with, I’ll make sure he knows how easy it is to call my husband 😉


  65. February 29, 2012 at 11:17 pm, Sbuecreative said:

    This is an excellent article and advise well taken. A must read for all models and others in the biz.


  66. February 29, 2012 at 11:14 pm, Aaron Matthew Kaiser said:

    As a photographer, I found this to be an excellent read. Not that I set out to disrespect any of my models (nor have I had any problems, nor intend to), this helps me to understand the model’s perspective in potentially uncomfortable situations and, more importantly, what can lead to them. I will take this article to heart as a way to ensure that no uncomfortable situations do ever occur between myself and my models.


    • March 01, 2012 at 12:12 am, Damianne said:

      Aw! Thanks. It’s all about clarity.


    • January 16, 2017 at 6:19 pm, D.M said:

      I agree Aaron: I am actually about to change my MM profile text so it is very specific about my personal ethics and what I am not interested in shooting (erotic/nude) and write that I will explain everything before there is an agreement made between model and photog.


  67. February 29, 2012 at 10:12 pm, Photog said:

    Great job, Damianne! This is solid advice.


  68. February 29, 2012 at 8:43 pm, Keithdewey3 said:

    Another very good article with sound advice. Thank you for taking the time to do this.


  69. February 29, 2012 at 6:41 pm, NionVox said:

    Some good advice here, I would add some things though:
    With regards to telling mods about physical or sexual assault, If they have reported it to local law enforcement, it’s best not to say anything until the case is over, because it can make things harder for you (Slander, libel, etc)

    Do not recommend lists: I just leave people off my reference lists, and briefly say at the top ‘If a particular person is not on the list, I do not recommend working with them, or they have since stopped working.’


  70. February 29, 2012 at 6:40 pm, Williamspear2 said:

    Outstanding advice! I’ve forwarded this to several new models I know wanting to break in the business. Great!


  71. February 29, 2012 at 6:40 pm, Jose Luis said:

    One thing you may want to try to avoid getting hit on … dont send mixed signals. Photographers are as human as anyone. If you act very flirty when setting up the shoot to get the photographers attention, dont be surprised when he or she assumes you actually like them. Be friendly sure. Be enthusiastic. You dont have to treat it like a date where sometimes mind games are the norms to get attention. I only say this b/c a lot of new models take the approach of attracting photographers of the opposite genders in the same way they commonly deal with folks of the opposite gender in a non professional, social situation. Instead, treat it like work- but a job you love and are very enthusiastic and passionate about. That is not to say you need to be an iceman or ice queen when talking to folks you want to work with. Instead, just be happy and excited without being flirty. Flirty may of course be important during the course of an actual shoot. Maybe even to establish a good rapport but make sure you send clear signals- dont refer to your photographer as a friend or hot stuff or baby. Call him or her your photographer. When you start blurring lines and move in to the flirting and friendship with the opposite sex realm- you may get hit on more often.


    • February 29, 2012 at 9:21 pm, Jtphotos said:

      I’m afraid I don’t agree with your point or find it acceptable, part of a photographers professional conduct is to not ‘mix business with pleasure’ and to avoid making advances towards clients, models etc. I think it is important to treat everyone involved with respect and this most definitely involves respecting personal boundaries regardless of whether you felt ‘led on’. If someone were to make unwelcome advances at a shoot then they would surely send off creepy signals?
      I guess to summarise regardless of whether you are a model, photographer or any member of a team it is not advisable to push boundaries and especially not advisable to make advances towards anybody… if anything to not open yourself up to the possibility of a sexual harassment charge! Sorry if anyone disagrees but I found your comment to be very primitive and ‘men have uncontrollable urges’ themed…


      • February 29, 2012 at 9:31 pm, Jose Luis said:

        Hi JT- actually I wasnt saying anything about men or women. And I agree that its not a good idea to act professionally. Please reread my post. Thanks!


        • February 29, 2012 at 9:32 pm, Jose Luis said:

          lol typo- I mean- its a good idea to act professionally. My original post was an encouragement to models (male or female) to start off their approach that way and do exactly as you say- not mix.


      • February 29, 2012 at 11:22 pm, Aaron Matthew Kaiser said:

        I’m actually going to have to agree with Jose here, but to an extent. During the course of a shoot is never an appropriate place to discover if the relationship is flirty-professional or flirty-personal, but some people (I know myself included) have trouble properly interpreting signals. It’s not a “men have uncontrollable urges” issue, but rather a “I can’t tell if she’s really interested in me or not” issue. Which can lead to confusion.

        Don’t forget Damianne’s comment near the beginning of her article: “There are photographers and models active on this site that are married, dating, engaged, or who have hooked up in the past. Realize that many of them have met through this site, and although their intention may not have been romantic or sexual to begin with, chemistry does happen and people do sleep together.”

        My contention is this: keep the shoot professional, even if the other party seems genuinely interested in you. If they are, then that can be explored outside of the realm of the professional shoot setting. And for models that are not interested in something more, do not send those flirty vibes (as Jose said). Also, don’t approach photo shoots as if you are going to find your soul mate.

        Is my response fair?


        • March 01, 2012 at 12:25 am, Jtphotos said:

          It was never really my intention to argue with anyone (especially in a professionalism article, the irony!) and I’m really not in any position to say anyones opinion is wrong, I just mean that whether someone is flirty or sends out those signals surely in a professional environment (even if it is a hobby or TFP, each participant relies on a end product to be traded) the last thing on someones mind should be ‘am I in here?’.

          Perhaps I’m wrong and am very open to that possibility but surely ‘ “I can’t tell if she’s really interested in me or not” issue’ shouldn’t arise in this environment.

          I think we have many points we agree on such as professional conduct on the photographer AND models behalf, I just disagree that because someone feels impelled to flirt that the other party should rise to the bait?

          someone who is flirty isn’t asking to be hit on, I think mixed signals can be sent even if someone isn’t intending to flirt…


    • March 14, 2013 at 5:25 pm, Tala Tundra said:

      I have one comment i feel i need to add and that’s the issue of flirting. If a model is doing a shoot that requires a ‘sexy’ or ‘cute’ look whether in clothes or not, perhaps flirting with the camera brings out good work? I don’t mean to imply mixed signals are appropriate i just simply figure that the model is basically acting in a still format and some poses are, well, flirtatious. In this respect i agree with everyone saying if you think the model may be flirting with you, address it outside the shoot. Perhaps she’s flirting with the camera, perhaps she’s generally flirtatious, or he/she may even like you, however it should not be addressed during a shoot.
      In the opposite spectrum i don’t see it being as imperative to photographers photo’s for one to be flirtatious but in that case i think it depends on experience and the boundaries. A good photographer will try to compliment when a great shot is happening and perhaps some are very passionate about what they do and can be misconstrued.

      All in all it’s best to assume the flirting is for the shot and not for you.
      If you think otherwise, meet for a coffee to discuss at a later date!


      • July 22, 2015 at 6:32 pm, Truth Serum said:

        I completely agree with you. Many people have a naturally flirtatious personality. Some people use different terms of endearment/affection without thinking about how others interpret them. “Hon”, “Babe”, and “Dear” for example to address somebody and “sexy”, “handsome” and “hot” to describe someone’s appearance. Just because I might use those terms warmly as a photographer to tell my model how great he/she looks or how well they are coming across on camera does not mean that I have sexual feelings for them.

        I do understand that men tend to be more visually oriented versus verbal, however, especially in the photography business, if a man is at all interested in a woman, then he needs to use verbal communication and say something rather than make a physical advance and risk violating her boundaries. Something as simple as, I’m attracted to you, do you mind if I get a little closer?


      • July 23, 2015 at 12:42 pm, Michael Norris said:

        lol… I actually commented nearly the same thing… but would add this….

        Just because a girl is flirting with you… and just because she likes you…. doesn’t mean she wants to have sex with you…

        I agree with the statement.. discuss outside of the photoshoot… in situations like this.. well defined boundaries are great.


    • July 23, 2015 at 12:34 pm, Michael Norris said:

      Hmmm… I’m going to toss a different perspective in here… sort of devils advocate.. but also some of my own experiences… ymmv…

      I have found… if a sexy shoot is what I’m after… and by sexy I mean the gamut that Sexy defines from glamour nudes to outright provocative… a little flirtiness helps ease the tension and put the model (and photographer) at ease. We are creating sexy stuff… that happens better when both are feeling comfortable and sexy. We ARE human after all.

      I think professionalism comes into play when you can recognize the difference between… “he/she’s really into me” flirting… and “flirting for atmosphere”…. think of it as the photographer who makes goofy faces and noises to get a kid to smile…. sort of the same thing to some extent… you’re creating a mood. A good photographer will never take advantage of this situation, at least not on the set.


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