Allowing escorts at photoshoots

Allowing escorts at photoshoots

As as photographer looking to pull together a photoshoot, you've more than likely had a fair amount of contact and negotiations with models to make sure the terms of the photoshoot work for both parties. Sometimes, a model will request to bring an escort to the photoshoot. This can be for a number of reasons. Maybe she is new to modeling and is not yet comfortable meeting strangers alone, especially if the photoshoot is in an isolated location or not in a public setting. Maybe she's had a negative experience in the past while on a shoot, and now she no longer goes on shoots alone. Whatever the situation is, a model is well within her right to request to bring an escort on a photoshoot. It's not inherently wrong to want to ensure that she is protected throughout the process. Just remember, as a photographer you also have every right to decline said request, even if that means moving on and finding another model to work with (which is probably a wise decisions at that point).

So what are some reasons why a photographer wouldn't want to book a model who wants to brig along an escort? Here's my take on the subject.

Why photographers hate working with models who bring escorts to photoshoots

To start, I'd like to point out that when I refer to an escort being present at a shoot, I mean that person is literally within the area where the photoshoot is being conducted. I am not referring to a friend who is waiting in the car outside or a boyfriend who is down the street at a nearby Starbucks, waiting until he gets a text letting him know the shoot has ended. I am talking about someone who is so close in proximity to the shoot that this person can (and more likely will) become an obstacle or distraction. 

An escort can come in many forms. A friend, sister, boyfriend, uncle, hired security (less likely). They are basically there to make sure the model makes it to and from the photoshoot safely and without incident.

So why would a photographer object?

Reason #1 - Theft

Unfortunately, people in general can be untrustworthy. As a photographer, you put a lot of time, energy and money into a photoshoot and you need to make all 3 count. Especially if the location you are shooting at is being rented. The last thing a photographer wants is to get a phone call from the owner of the rented location letting you know that items came up missing. This can result in you as the photographer being held responsible for replacing said item(s), and if you are using a website like Peerspace or Airbnb, that can also result in a negative review being left on your profile, which can prevent you from easily finding a location for future shoots.

Reason #2 - Distraction

Having an extra person on the shoot can change the whole vibe of the shoot. Having someone standing by, even silently, is bound to draw the model's attention and focus away from the shoot and toward that person, who for all intents and purposes, provides no real value to the shoot at all. Whether she (the model) continuously looks to her friend or boyfriend for approval or disapproval, it can become a huge issue. Not to mention if the escort is the type to chime in and offer suggestions concerning poses, concepts, clothing, hair, or just cracking jokes or making funny faces, it is not the ideal situation for a photographer. It can turn into a huge money burn, and what should have been a 3 hour shoot quickly ends up being a 5 hour shoot.

Reason #3 - Jealousy

This mostly concerns models who request to bring their boyfriend or husband to a photoshoot. This is most certainly the request that I would 100% refuse if asked. You're basically asking for an issue if you allow a significant other to sit in on your photoshoot, especially if you are doing swimsuit, nude, implied nude, boudoir or erotic photography. If she absolutely has to have her significant other along with her, my advise would be to make sure he is situated far outside of the location with absolutely no way of seeing what you are doing inside during the photoshoot. If that is not acceptable to the model, I suggest you walk and look to book someone else.

In my experience, the vast majority of professional models do not bring or ask to bring an escort to a photoshoot. Especially if you first contacted them on a modeling website where you have reviews from models you've worked with in the past. If a model does request to bring an escort, I simply tell her that I do not allow escorts of any kind inside of the location and advise them to contact past models that I have worked with if they have any concerns. It's usually not an issue and 90% of the time this will not come up, although when posting casting calls I do make a point to add "No escorts will be allowed on the premises" within the description for the shoot. This is to clear up any misunderstandings and let them know up front.

Putting together a photoshoot, booking the perfect model and having the whole process work from start to finish is a very rewarding thing. It feels amazing to know you are able to pull the whole project together and make it a reality, and come away with amazing photos after the fact. But as a photographer, it's on you to protect yourself and the viability of your project. And making sure your shoot is limited to what is absolutely needed to complete the shoot is a good first step in doing so.

Happy shooting!