There is a problem in photo shoots today, sexual harassment. While most photographers out there may not realize it, or even know when it happens, it does. As a shoot promoter I hear about it. Not nearly as often as it happens, but I do hear about it. Models now perhaps will not stand for things they used to ignore.

No matter why, recently some good models have been lost. This is bad for everyone. Models never should have put up the sexual harassment in the first place. When they may have in the past, some photographers may have wrongly assumed their comments and behaviors are acceptable. They were not and are not acceptable.

I know that many of our photographers have had to take classes in the prevention of sexual harassment at their place of employment. What you have learned there does not just apply at work. It applies everywhere.

Guys, this is one part of work you should take with you everywhere. And I have a secret to tell you, women like it. You catch more flies with honey than vinegar.

It you want to engage in behaviors that are potentially harassing, please don't do it at a photo shoot. I don't want to put your name on my blacklist. Take yourself into a strip club or nude bar and do your hooting, hollering, cat whistles, ogles, and other things. At least there the women expect it, and are hopefully being paid enough to put up with it.


Some of you may not be aware of exactly what sexual harassment is. Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature ... when the submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individuals employment, (2) submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting the individual, or (3) such conduct has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with an individual's work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive working environment. [29 CFR 1604 et. seq., see also Title VII 42 USC 2000 et. seq.] Through court cases and rulings of the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC) this has been interrupted to mean any unwanted behavior, action, words by a member of one sex that makes a member of the opposite sex feel uncomfortable, may be sexual harassment. However, the EEOC's enforcement manual has an example of harassment where both parties are the same sex.

That is a very broad definition for sexual harassment. It has to be, because so many things can be harassment. The keys are that it is unwanted and it makes the other person feel uncomfortable. The same thing can either be harassment or not. The key is in how it is perceived. If you do not engage in anything that could be perceived as unwanted you won't be guilty. There are many interesting cases cited, several of which may apply to the model, photographer relationship. Other rulings might apply to the sponsor, model, photographer relationship.

I believe that about 80% of the harassment at shoots is unintentional. Words come out wrong, or there are misunderstandings as to the type of event, or other things. As for the other 20%, about half of that is simply the photographer getting carried away with the flow. Things that would embarrass yourself if you heard yourself saying them elsewhere. It happens. The other half unfortunately I believe is straight out intentional harassment. I refuse to put up with that kind of abusive "photographer." That is why I have a blacklist.


At a recent photo event a photographer asked the model to pose with him while another photographer took their picture. Is this sexual harassment? It is. Certainly, the model is not there to pose with the photographers. She may be willing, but she wasn't hired for that and she may resent being asked. She may feel as if she is just a sex object. She may not want the photographer to have his hands on her body, but she might feel, even if it is not true, that if she does not submit that she won't be paid, or get a vote. For this reason it is harassment.

Another problem is photographers who sneak shots. If the model has been hired for a certain kind of work, be that fashion or playboy style nudes, that is what she is there for. She hasn't been hired to do crotch shots. If you want that, get yourself to one the shoots that guarantee that type of shooting opportunity. Yes, there are some and they do cost more, but you get what you pay for. Don't sneak the shots; it simply makes the model feel that all photographers are only perverts.

All the time photographers are making, rude, crud, or lewd comments and remarks to the models. It is stupid! I have heard some real blunders. I know most of the photographers are joking, or have gotten lost in a head trip, but the model doesn't. Let's listen in on one hypothetical photographer.

"Just a little more to the right." click, click, click, "Great!" click, click, click, "Beautiful!" click, click, click, "Fantastic!" click, click, click, "Move your arm just a bit to the left." click, click, "When you do that it makes me horny." She freezes, an icy stare comes over her face, and it is the end of any good photography.

Yes, things like this and much worse have been said. Even much milder things can make a model feel like trash. Substitute, "God, the guys will go crazy" and it is still harassment. The model is not posing for "the guys" to ogle her photos or body. Even if she is posing for a photo set that will be in a skin magazine it is unacceptable. In this instance, something like, "That's great, the editor will love these." is a much more appropriate comment to make. Or simply stick to the one word adjectives. "Great," "beautiful," "good," and "fantastic" covers a lot of ground.

At a recent contest photo event a photographer asked a model for her name and number. Then I asked him if he was voting for her. His response was she hadn't sucked up to him enough yet, but the day was still young. His comment made it clear to me, and I am sure the model who was standing next to me, that "sucking up" wasn't just being the best model at the event. Yes, the contests are popularity contests, not modeling contests, but his comments are not acceptable.

Unacceptable Behavior

Other unacceptable comments are asking about what she is doing that night. If you know her, she may assume it is innocent. If you don't know her, she could assume you are asking her out on a date or more! The same thing applies for questions about boyfriends, husbands, and other subjects. You may be genuinely interested, but make sure she knows it before you ask anything that isn't germane to the photography at hand.

Certain words are also unacceptable at any time. If the model was to ask you if you thought she has a cute ass, your reply should be that you like her derri're too. She may refer to her buttocks as her ass. You don't. Slang words are out. Models do not have tits they have breasts. I don't think you need to be so formal as to call them mammary glands, but you won't go wrong doing it. There are polite conversation terms for all the other areas of the body as well. Use them. Don't use slang. Of course, if a model specifically asks you to use slang, go ahead. It may be part of her head trip in modeling, but it is her trip, not every models' and not even hers on every day.

A particularly odious harasser is the clothing adjuster. I think we have all seen this photographer. He is directing the model from pose to pose and at almost every pose he finds something out of place with her clothing. Instead of having the model fix it he does so without asking her permission first. To the model this "photographer" looks as if he is using every excuse in the book to get his hands all over her body! At a shoot no photographer should be adjusting any models outfit without her asking him to do it. Not just for the sexual harassment standpoint but also because he is not the subject of every other photographers' picture.

Asking For More

Another major problem is photographers who try to con the models into doing more than they have been hired to do. This is totally unacceptable. At the photo shoots, the promoter has to tell the modes exactly what the event is, and what she will be doing. We also tell you photographers in our advertising what the style of event is. If you want more, then go to an event that offers more. Don't harass the models trying to get them to do more than they have been hired to do. If you succeeded, she goes home and feels like trash or that she has been cheated.
If you don't succeed she has every reason to believe that all photographers are simply dirty old men. Either way you lose in the long run. She will never work for you or maybe even attend a photo shoot again!

If you are hiring a model, be completely up front with her about exactly what it is you want her to do. If she is willing she will quote you a price. If not, you wouldn't have gotten it anyway. If by some miracle you do get her to do more, the photos will look forced. Most of us are real photographers, and I think most of us would agree that no photos are better than wasting time and money on rotten photos. Of course, if you are into self abuse - just let everyone know.

Of course there are people who are not real photographers too. Models, please, please, tell us promoters who they are. None of us promoters need any registration fee enough for another problem like Cypress College. Please don't assume we know who they are. They are slick. Very, very, slick. We don't know who they are until we get complaints. We want complaints. Sponsors are the most isolated people of all. Compliments and suggestions are nice too, but we need complaints. We are the last to know what is going on!

This last item doesn't deal with sexual harassment, but even if you know she is willing and is being paid enough to do more, please don't ask. There are restrictions that property owners' place on what can happen on their property. I think by now most photographers would be sensitive enough about the loss of locations to shoot. We have lost some good ones recently and are in danger of losing at least one more.

Model's top Peeve's

In talking to a few models they all have their own pet peeves. At the top of the list is the photographer who wants more than photography. This can be either expressed in words, or actions. Usually the words are in the form of an indecent proposal or solicitation. As for actions, it is likely to be the clothing adjuster or an octopus photographer. Photographers, please wake up! She is a model. Nothing more, nothing less. Treat her professionally and you will get some great photos. Keep your solicitations to yourself. Keep your hands off her.

Finally, photographers, the shoots are not a boys' club environment, where the girls are there for your pleasure. They are models, many of them professional quality. Treat them as professional models. Show them courtesy and respect. They appreciate it and it will show in your pictures. Treat them as a boys' club and you will chase away all the good ones, and give us all a black eye in the process. Please, engage brain before mouth!

by Gary W. Charpentier