image via shutterstock / MilanMarkovic78
Alarming criminal acts by individuals purporting to be photographers or casting professionals have been in the news of late. A glamour photographer from Sydney by the name of Sydney Lopes will stand trial over a rape of a woman in country Victoria after she responded to a social media call-out for promotional models. Also, in Sydney, fashion designer Shardz Horuani has been arrested and charged with five counts of sexual assault following allegations he groped, harassed and exploited young female models.
These shocking scenarios are worst-case examples of what can go wrong in the industry. However, they go to show that safety is always priority and that you should always err on the side of caution when accepting modelling and other related work. So, what are the most important security measures that a model/actor or other individual that responds to castings must undertake at all times?
Number one would be to communicate as much as possible during the initial stages of responding to interest from a photographer or casting professional. Ask the photographer a lot of questions such as the exact location of the shoot, how many hours it will be etc. Ask if you can bring a chaperone. Find out exactly what type of shoot is required and what will be required of you. You need to make sure you are clear about what you are happy to do and what you won’t do. Ask what the expectations are of you as a model and what the state of dress will be.
This also goes for actors. Is nudity required? What sort of content are you required to perform? Search for any issues that might arise concerning your morality, religion, ethical or political persuasions. If you are a promotional model or brand ambassador it pays to know exactly what you are getting into before you confirm. Always get the brief – this means the document/s-stating job description, rate of pay, attire, parking availability and any other particulars that you will need to know. Make sure that you will be paid the industry standards. Ascertain that the company is legitimate. You can conduct and ABN search on the government website to ensure that it is registered.
It would seem that those that are most likely to be at risk in the industry are those that are looking to build a portfolio/show reel and are willing to undertake work for “exposure” to get their “foot in the door”. If you are one of these individuals you need to be aware that you are particularly vulnerable. You need to be aware of such an individual who is colloquially referred to as “Guy with Camera” or GWC. Young, naïve and primarily female hopefuls are prime bait for these opportunistic predators who masquerade as professionals. They have no real experience and sinister motives.
How to spot GWCs? They usually have dodgy looking facebook pages or websites, or they might not have anything to show you at all. Sometimes they may steal content or images from others. You can always conduct a “reverse image check” on Google if you feel that something may not add up. You need to always check a photographer’s or a director’s previous work. Ask for their portfolio. If you feel that something is possibly not right you can always contact other models and actors that they have worked with for their feedback.
The most important thing that you should always do is to let someone you trust know where you are going before you go to a shoot, an audition, a promotional gig, or similar. Give them the address of where you will be and an estimation of how long it will likely take. Never overlook your gut instinct. Never feel you are being too paranoid. If you feel uncomfortable there is a reason. For example, if a photographer is forcing a change of the parameters of a pre-agreed upon shoot, then you have every right to leave immediately. Do not let a photographer touch you. A true professional should always be able to direct you verbally. If you feel scared or threatened always walk, and do it immediately.