By: Olena Luchko
As a model you should be careful and always think about your safety before anything else. We all have heard different stories that do not have a happy ending. You never know what situation you might be in while on set, so below are a few ways to keep yourself safe starting off in this industry.
If you are new to the industry, and would like to get yourself started in modeling, I would recommend starting with group meetings. That’s how I started my modeling path, and it meant I had other people to watch and learn poses from while also meeting new people who made me feel comfortable. Since it was a group of people I never felt that there was a weird situation. There is a very popular app called “Meetup” where you can find groups of people with common interests who organize different group events. That’s how I found my first photoshoot. Little by little, you will get to know people, which will make it easier for you in the future.
If you are asked to attend a one on one photoshoot, just you and a photographer, make sure you can trust the person and that you feel comfortable. Do a little research before: ask other models about their experience with a particular photographer/agency, see their profile and check their work, reviews, etc. Also, it is always ok to bring a friend with you to the set, and if a photographer is acting weird and insisting that you come alone, I would probably be concerned and refuse to meet with them.
Most responsible photographers will encourage you to bring someone else to ensure their models feel comfortable and can therefore perform their best during the shoot. Sometimes, even the photographer will bring an extra friend to feel safe going to meet people they don’t really know as well. Do everything to make sure the photoshoot is fun, safe, and comfortable for everyone involved.
If you do decide to bring a friend, make sure that they don’t end up being a distraction on set – have them bring homework, a book, headphones, anything they like, but make sure they don’t interrupt the shoot. You want everyone to have fun but you are also working with a photographer for a reason, so make sure that everyone can do their job.
When meeting up with people, always bring something that you would carry if you were riding the subway by yourself, whether a friend comes or not. You should carry pepper spray, your keys, a metal water bottle, something small that can help you escape if you end up needing to use it and keep yourself safe in a situation.
Always share your location with a friend, a family member, a roommate, etc. so that you can feel safe knowing that someone knows where you are. Let them know the time frame you are going to be there and to call if you are past your time. Also, ask for frequent water breaks to be able to text and update the person you shared your location with. You can never be too safe!
Photographer: Christian Gill
If it would also make you feel more comfortable, there are self defense classes you can take that will help show you the basics when in a pinch. I have done boxing, and it makes me feel stronger and like I can handle a situation if I had to. Britney, our founder, does kickboxing and definitely feels confident in being able to handle herself. Do what you need to keep yourself safe.
Be careful on sets because the person who betrays you might not always be who you think. Photographers are notorious for having bad reputations, but it could be the art director, stylist, or even a third party passing by. You always need to have your guard up while also being professional. Remember, not all situations happen the first time you meet someone – it could be the second, or fifth, so always pay attention and never let anyone make you feel like you’re the one who’s done something wrong. Keep yourself professional, and you will never have to question yourself.
Most responsible photographers will encourage you to bring someone else to ensure their models feel comfortable and can therefore perform their best during the shoot.
If you aren’t shooting in a studio, you have to be aware that there are people around you that are not a part of your photoshoot. Sometimes, someone may not like what you are doing, or shooting, or who you’re doing it with, or what you’re wearing. The list goes on and on. You have a few options; you can ignore them and keep being amazing, you can choose to engage and call them out, you can choose to make yourself safe and move from the situation, or even call 911 if you feel your safety might be in danger (you can also fake call 911, a lot of times it will get someone to stop bothering you if they think you’re going to call). But don’t keep yourself in a situation that could escalate. Grab the photographer and relocate to a more populated area like a coffee shop and just take a breather before hitting a new spot to continue your day.
Lastly, if you are a signed model, make sure you have a good enough rapport with your agent that you feel comfortable enough going to them. If something happens on a set they sent you to, they need to be made aware so they can rectify the situation if possible or make sure it does not happen again. If you do not have an agent that you feel safe enough to share this information with or you do not feel that they have your back, you are with the wrong agent/ agency. Even if something happens on a set they did not send you on, make sure to notify them. Agents/ agencies have a big network and can spread the word about a rogue photographer quicker than a wildfire. However, be careful about
about spreading illegitimate claims –
don’t be the boy who cried wolf because someone hurt your feelings.
Don’t be afraid to speak up. It can be scary and there is a reason why this industry drills fear into us. They want to be able to control us, and that fear that we are all replaceable or they will blacklist us is scary, but it shouldn’t keep you from doing the right thing and potentially saving another model.
Lastly – always trust your gut feelings. If you don’t feel comfortable or fully sure – just don’t do it and don’t regret it. There are a lot of wonderful people you can work with to create amazing art. You will find who you like working with in time.
Photographer: Alina Gofman