With the Harvey Weinstein and Terry Richardson cases making headlines I fee the need to say something about how I work. The problem is that young women and men are not prepared to understand or handle a situation like this. An older man with power and influence carrying on, saying this is the way its done in the business. That is the concern I have about expecting young models to think through all the ramification of posing nude. The problem I have is thinking these “kids” as fully grown adults. That they should be treated with all respects at any age is a given. Early twenties they are still kids in so many ways. I haven’t wanted to take advantage of them, I do run the risk of being seen as patriarchal, I feel that is well worth the risk. Yes I will shoot women who have reached the age of eighteen if they are willing, However my preference is twenty-four, I feel that by this time they can make a more informed decisions. Yes I do get a release, but that does not give me the right to ruin anyone’s life because they agreed to shoot with me. It doesn’t mean I can use the images indiscriminately, I ask the women who are in contact with me if I can use their images for whatever I am trying to accomplish. Those that decide to not keep in contact are still deserving of privacy, and should be kept from their lives harmed. Noting the developed my own brain has given me an appreciation of the not yet fully developed brains. I know a lot of photographers who say “well I have a release!” To my way of thinking, yeah you do, but you should ask first…, maybe she has a reasons (like kids) not to want to be exposed like that, or to use identifying information with an image.
I had a model who was twenty-four at the time, but a young very naive twenty-four. She came from a farming background, wanting to make up for lost time. I could see that she was testing herself, testing her limits. We’d been shooting nudes for quite sometime
, she was bored with that, not a challenge any more So I said, partly in jest why not masturbate? NO she said, but I could see she was thinking about it, was she brave enough. Now don’t go jumping to conclusions, I knew she was ripe for someone to take advantage of her. I also knew the way I worked, knew that I would be willing to protect her and her images. She said yeah but I have to get comfortable. So I got some really lovely images mainly because she didn’t know any better than to fake it, when she left she was happy as a clam. Only after she had second thoughts, asked her friends, they told her she was nuts, that her job was in jeopardy. I told her not to worry, I wasn’t going to do anything without asking first. I kept my word, but still her concern was what did I think of her.., what kind of girl did I think she was. Finally a few summers ago we had the chance to really talk. Told her that I didn’t think that she was that kind of girl either, that I respected her, that I was still protecting her and her images. She was relived that I didn’t think poorly of her. We went though the images again, told her how proud of was of her, that she needed an outlet at the time that wouldn’t harm her. That I had thought of all the ramifications before we actually shot, that I was willing to protect her, while someone else might not. I still have hopes she will come for another shoot, but she has other priorities now.
Not everyone works the way I do, with my past mistakes of my own, made when my brain wasn’t fully developed. I have learned a hard lesson, and would really hate to be held accountable for mistakes in judgement I made in my twenties. I think of a shoot as having the features of the Stockholm syndrome; a model gets so comfortable with a photographer so she wants to please him or her. Then has second thought, but by that point, the damage has been done if she has signed that release. I don’t want to be that photographer…, ever! I want to do the right thing by my models then and now. I think that’s the reason I haven’t had problems. I do the right thing, even if it cost me money. I have found that the rewards far outweigh any monetary harm.