This post is not about a session I have shot but rather the culmination of a number of things that I have seen or experienced in the last six months. I have titled it “Respect” because this is to be is central to how I deal with people when I am shooting them. Please bear with me as I hope this will not turn into too much of a ramble.
The first instance that sparked this post occurred back in February when I did a shoot with Maly. For at least half of the session all she had on was wearing was a length of fabric, some of which was very sheer. During a break in the shooting she asked me how it was that I could concentrate on the photography when she was dressed in so little. I explained that I was so focused on getting the shots that I was not actually looking at the fact that she had very little on. In fact I have done sessions where at the end as I have reviewed the images I have not remembered taking them. I also explained that the purpose of the shoot was to produce art and not simply to let me see her naked.
The second discussion occurred during my shoot with Aleks. We were discussing a reasonable successful photographer (in terms of awards) that we both had done shots with. Aleks did not have a very positive impression of his mainly because he wanted to shoot more erotic style images with her when all she had agreed to was a nude shoot. When she refused he ended the shoot.
Now I always tell my nude models that I am going to produce shots where shadows will play a concealing part and that they will resemble early “Playboy”, and definitely not modern day “Penthouse”. In reality the difference is posing between the two can be as little as 3 inches in terms of where the model is relative to the camera. In doing this I am respecting their right to a level of privacy. The only time I have ever done a shot where literally everything was on full display was one at the specific request of the subject.
I always tell them that if I ask them to go into a pose and they are not comfortable doing it then they can say “no” and we will try something else. I do not believe that it is right to push anyone past their own comfort zone (unless they are getting paid for it). That is the way I would like it, therefore the way I treat others.
Producing a great image, especially concept shots, actually involves a collaboration between the photographer and the model. If you as a photographer do not respect the model then the chances of producing great work just got a lot harder.