Every now and then some real asshole "guy-with-a-camera" makes the news, wannabe Roman Polanskis I suppose. Anyway, the latest is a celebrity photographer down in New York, Terry Richardson.There's a write-up of him at the New York Times, and I hope anyone considering modeling- especially for the self-described portfolio photographers one finds in the digital media - read it carefully, and for two specific reasons.
The first reason to read it is to become familiar with the sort of abuse that one can encounter in a studio without proper safeguards; the other is the extent to which the art establishment will go to protect the abuser and blame the abused. If you are a model and are reading this I hope it brings home the fact that if you encounter these kinds of situations, you may well be left to hang and dry on your own.
Certainly the primary defence against this sort of abuse is to know your rights and enforce them. But that's very easy to say, but hard to put into practice, particularly as predators by nature tend to be very good at figuring out who, and who is not, vulnerable, and using that to their advantage.
Another defence though is to make sure the ground rules are clear from the start, and to make sure the model has significant enough leverage to discourage Richardson's type of abuse. You do that through a proper Artist/Model agreement that guarantees the rights of models, and a much larger degree of control over images than is normally the case (as it is, models don't rate much higher in standard agreements than the can of beans in a still life).
Now I have currently an Artist/Model agreement that covers a good deal of this, but it's rather ad hoc; it was drawn up in discussions with the models I have worked with, and I am certainly no lawyer. I am currently working with a lawyer to make something more formal. If anyone reading this would like a copy of the former, or the latter when it is completed, just get in touch with me via this blog, or via email at email@example.com .