My only rule in shooting models – no set rules

I often see an us vs them attitude when it comes to certain hot button issues in the photographer-model relationship. I find such inflexible stances counter productive and ultimately creates an environment of hostility between various team members, especially when such positions are boldly stated on internet modeling site profiles and forum postings.

I often see an us vs them attitude when it comes to certain hot button issues in the photographer-model relationship. I find such inflexible stances counter productive and ultimately creates an environment of hostility between various team members, especially when such positions are boldly stated on internet modeling site profiles and forum postings.

Flexibility is a great attribute when working with people and I have never had firm rules on these issues when so many insist on drawing a line in the sand.

Escorts

I have shot with and without escorts. While I generally discourage the use of escorts to make things easier on set, I have also been in situations where an escort was put to work driving, picking up wardrobe, and assisting on set. I’m perfectly capable of shooting with or without an escort present and the presence of an escort does not hinder my creativity one bit. Just as a model can stop a shoot if something happens she does not approve of, I too can stop a shoot if the escort does something I don’t approve of.

Shooting minors

Some photographers have a policy of never shooting minors or shooting minors only with a parent present. I don’t really care. If I get to point of scheduling a shoot with a minor, I am reasonably comfortable with her professionalism to trust her to carry out the job. At this point, someone is saying “but what if she accuses you of rape?” Well I generally don’t shoot minors in a skid row motel in the middle of the night after she snuck out of the house. If she wants to accuse me of rape while shooting her in public or at the designers studio in front of a full team, she’ll have to accuse everyone else too. “But what about a model release? A minor can’t sign a model release.” True. But a model release is not a permission slip and the presence of a model release is not going to protect the photographer one bit if something illegal happens. So generally, I ask for a parent to sign a limited model release but it’s not a deal killer if I don’t get one under the right circumstances.

Model Release

I never ask for a full commercial model release for test or TF* shoots. I use a limited release that authorizes portfolio use. I’ve also done shoots where no model releases were signed. I would guess over 95% of my images are shot without a model release and that includes 100% of all runway images. I am more likely to ask for a model release from an inexperienced model and I never ask for a model release from an agency model coordinated through the agency. That would just be a waste of time and make me look like a total noob.

Un-retouched images

You hear photographers say all the time “NEVER give out unretouched images!”. Why? Most of my images are unretouched with the exception of technical adjustments such as lighting, color balance, and cropping. If the model can pull it off, there’s no reason unretouched images cannot be the final product. Unretouched images are especially important to makeup artists who must represent the quality of their work rather than the quality of the photographer’s Photoshop skills.

Allowing others to retouch my images

Sure, contingent on my approval of the final results.

Giving out all images

I’ve done this as well. It was a paid “shoot n scoot” shoot. Get the job done and get the hell out of there. I was not creating the Sistine Chapel so Jpeg images right out of the camera are good enough.

Copyright transfer

Some photographers artificially proclaim they will never assign copyright unless it’s for tens of thousands of dollars. I guess I’m a cheap whore because I’ve done it for far less. How much it takes depends on my perceived value of the images. Am I going to do a copyright transfer for $1,000 if the image is for a Procter & Gamble product label? Of course not. But if I’m shooting a bunch of nobodies having dinner, the value of that copyright is zero so name a price and let’s make a deal.

  • Guest

    After reading many of your articles here I have come to the firm belief that you, Pat Yuen, are a narcissist.