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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

It's About Sexy, Not Sex

If you want to have the respect of your models, give them the respect they deserve—and leave the rose at home



Benefits Of Beauty

Going out to bars and clubs with models is a scream. You rarely wait in line, drinks tend to be free and watching the phalanx of men try to pick up your friends is priceless entertainment.

“You're the most beautiful woman....” “Your eyes are incredible.” “Have you ever thought about modeling?” Eventually some unlucky fool will try, “You know, I'm a photographer....”

Owning a Canon EOS Rebel and accidentally taking a fabulous picture of your sister's gorgeous best friend doesn't make you a fashion photographer. If you're going to throw down the “I'm a photographer” line, you had better be the real deal. Everyone in this business can smell a fake from 10 blocks away. I've seen my model friends let the supposed photographer walk his way into a web of untruths. And just as he thinks he's on easy street to the bedroom, she'll start tripping him up with his own fabricated story. It's like watching a cat play with a wounded mouse. The poor guy ends up walking away abjectly humiliated, destined for years of therapy.

Entertaining as this all was, I was running into a heap of trouble with the girl I was dating who was outside the industry.

“Don't all photographers sleep with their models?” she asked.

“No!” I defended myself.

“You must have some attraction to these girls?” Her eyes narrowed.

“Not all of them.” (Note: The proper response here is, “Not at all.”)

“Don't you see these girls naked sometimes?”

“Um....”

Now Take Off Your Shirt

People outside of my industry are always busting my chops about nudity. Apparently, there's a preconceived notion that there's a lot of skin in the fashion world. Well, I'm here to tell you that there is. Fashion is a provocative genre by its nature. Some models are shy on the set and some aren't. My best friend, Andrea, a model turned writer, called me up once to ask if I thought she was still beautiful. I figured she had lost her mind. She told me that she had just finished a shoot where she was pretty much walking around topless the whole time. No one really noticed. That's the type of atmosphere that exists on the set. If you ever find yourself noticing a model changing, believe me, everyone else is going to notice you noticing and rumors will fly.

There are rules and protocols that exist when it comes to skin. Wherever you're shooting, especially on a commercial shoot, you need to have a viable changing area, which is defined as a 10x10 enclosed space. This sometimes can be tricky when you're on a location in the middle of nowhere. Most models are fine changing in an SUV or under a towel, but make sure before you reach the location. Ask! If you're working with a model who indicates that she's remotely uncomfortable or if the model is a minor, you better figure out a changing room. The absolute most important thing to remember is that you always respect the model's dignity and comfort level. This means being a gentleman and turning your back if she's changing in front of you.

Inevitably, some of the shots in your career will involve nudity, so how do you talk a girl into taking off her clothes on the set? You don't. Start with her agent. Every agency knows which one of its models is willing to do lingerie or nudity. The agent will check with the model and get back to you. If you have lots of model friends and you know them well enough to do a test shoot that involves nudity, talk to them about it ahead of time. Never put anyone on the spot and pressure them. Also, if you're shooting and you sense that the model is uncomfortable doing a provocative shot, kill the shoot. It doesn't matter what she said when you talked to her yesterday—today she's not having it, and it's your job to recognize that. Understandably, you need to avoid this scenario if it's a commercial shoot. The best way to do that is through communication; never try to bait and switch or pull the wool over anyone's eyes. Your reputation is the most important thing you possess, it's the easiest thing to destroy, and the most impossible thing to fix once it has been trashed.



 

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