Something I tell models to always have with them are escorts. To me, this is key to their safety and to make sure they don’t end up with problem situations. As a photographer, I find I am more at ease with models who bring escorts with them. Amazingly, only a very few models bring escorts with them, even on the first time working with a photographer. Many models tell me it is because they are told by so many photographers to not bring someone with them or locking the escort out from the shoot even if they are there. I always tell models that if the photographer doesn’t allow escorts, then it is a red flag to not work with them. Always send a private message to them and request nicely to have an escort, and most who say no to escorts will allow them to come to a shoot. Let me explain some of the reasons I have and what I have heard why photographers don’t like escorts.
First, for me, the only person who I have reservations attending a shoot is the father of the model if the model is a female. There is just something about the father’s view of the model that gets in the way – and the father won’t let the model be who she is. Instead, you end up with the father being in the way and the model wants to be that person (image) who she is to her father. The other part is that many of the shoots where the father have been have also been really weird. I won’t go into these here but frequently there is “special attention” given to the model. The only other problem that I have had with escorts has been with jealous significant others – a lot more with boyfriends. In these cases, almost all are people who a large part start dating the model because they are a model, and then try to get the model to stop modeling. In one recent shoot, I had a problem with an escort who expected to be shoot just like the model and then walked off with clothing used in the shoot. When found out, the escort refused to give the clothing back. Beyond this, I really haven’t had a problem with shooting with escorts. From the model’s perspectives when we review the shoot afterwards, the biggest thing that the model finds uncomfortable with an escort at my shoot is when the escort tries to tell the model something or coach the model (even if the coach is saying the same thing that I am saying). In one situation, the model was actually uncomfortable being the “model” in front of the escort. What you should take away from my experiences are that escorts should be someone who you trust and who you don’t mind being who you need to be as a model. You need to also choose someone who you know won’t get involved in the shoot to the point that you are uncomfortable as a model. Finally, there are those escorts who are photographers who want to “learn” from watching a shoot with that model – they think they can gather some kind of information how images are taken. This has happened to me and other photographers that I know – the escort thinks it is a way to get free photography lessons. In reality, without knowing exactly what is going on, it doesn’t help. There are settings and things that need to be known in addition to the lighting placement. Escorts aren’t there to learn to be better photographers, and if someone does ask to go for this reason, don’t take them.
Next, let me tell you some of the things I have heard from other photographers. Let me start with friends, usually best friends. With them, the biggest problem is the giggles or conversations between the two of you that is distracting from the photo session. Know that most photographers work on a time basis – this is their job and livelihood. These distractions keep you from getting good images and delay shoots. With parents or boyfriends, there is a lot of issues. The biggest is that you as a model are reserved or don’t want to be the model you need to be. Frequently, I hear where parents or boyfriends think the model are porn stars or similar because of doing a single edgy pose at a shoot. By edgy, it may be as simple as a bra showing or even too much leg. If you bring any of them along to a shoot, you should explain what to expect and the poses you expect to do, and how much will be showing during that shoot. Limits of what you will do should also be discussed and code words exchanged so that you can signal to your escort that you want out of there, or that you are going past your expressed limits prior to the shoot. If the person has problems while you discuss this, then they are probably not the best person to bring as an escort. Another problem is that some escorts want to be the director and photographer to you the model. I personally have only had this happen only once, but I am told this is frequent. The person who escorts you has seen a few “reality TV” modeling shows, and thinks they are the expert. In my case, this has only been the parents of the model. This keeps the photographer from getting the work done that was intended and often makes you the model more self conscious. Make sure when you discuss being an escort, you let them know they may be put to work holding or carrying things, but they aren’t there to be directing or telling you how to do the work you do. They may be asked to adjust a piece of clothing, brush a piece of hair, help you change, maybe hold a reflector or flash, or similar, but they aren’t there to direct or guide the shoot in any way, shape, or form. Beyond this, they really shouldn’t be interacting unless it is to get you out of a bad situation.
This should give you an idea why people should or should not be an escort for you. If you have questions or comments, feel free to send them my way.