Another of those questions that I get asked is, “How likely will my image be seen on the Internet?” People who ask me this are often glamour nude and nude models who are hiding their work from their family, work, and close friends. This post applies to models of any type.
The long and short is that it is unlikely if you take steps, but the possibility of someone seeing it is fairly high if you don’t take those steps to keep it from being seen or keep it from being associated with your modeling work. The sheer size of the Internet is huge and the amount of content in the form of photographs is huge. Obfuscation is not really security, but it will help keep honest people honest. The technique below is just obfuscation and checking.
1) Always use a fake name when modeling. This is the biggest thing you can do. Part of this is safety. If you are in the industry for more than two years, you will run into people who are creepers. By using an alternate name, it makes it more difficult to track you down under your real name. As a general rule, you want to keep your modeling life separate from your personal life. The two shouldn’t mix (although you will find it does to some extent because some people who you work with will become close friends). You will want to use a neighboring town a little distance away from your actual location, too. Make sure releases are amended to not use your real name and photographers never post images using your real name.
2) Create a “public” profile for your modeling. Always use your fake name and keep your public modeling profile, work, and images modeling under that fake name.
3) Search the Internet for images of you under both your real and fake name – make sure that they are kept in their correct places. For instance, you don’t want someone to tag you in images (or credit you in images) under both your real and modeling name on the same profile. In addition to Google, you may find http://tineye.com/, http://www.picsearch.com/, and the “find similar images” on Bing useful, too. If you find something that shouldn’t be, contact the person who posted it (if it isn’t you), and get them to correct the tagging.
4) Restrict compromising photos to only a trusted group. Never make them public for the whole world to see even on your modeling profile. At the very least, restrict them to only the people you friend. If the service allows you to restrict them further to a more trusted group, do so. As image recognition gets better, companies who do background checks are finding they can link public image accounts between two different names based solely on the images they find. While this technology isn’t 100%, it is getting better every day.
5) Avoid services and contests that sell the images you submit to them. Some of the social network services and contests require you to relinquish all rights to an image when you submit them. While photographers may not give you the rights to those images, rarely do they come back at you for submitting the images (a couple I know have – and all get really upset when it does happen). Worse is when those images show up on some adult product in a store or dating site advertisement on the web. Be sure you are aware of what you are giving up when you submit images to any social networking site or contest.