As a model, you have limits and part of pre-shoot communication is clarifying those limits so that you and the photographer are on the same page. This sounds simple, but I’m often surprised at how many models misinterpret questions about limits as “inappropriate” or “pushy” on the part of the photographer. I’m hoping this article will help you understand why photographers ask some questions as well as how to recognize what is probably normal and what might be an indicator of issues.
Before we really dig into this, I do want to say that this is just my advice based on my experience and what I’ve seen and been told by others. As a model, you always need to make sure you are comfortable with whatever you are shooting. In regards to advice, always take what serves you and leave what doesn’t. This is just information.
Why do photographers ask about limits?
In general, a photographer asking you about your limits is a good thing. It means they are communicating with you and that’s great! Here are some of the most common reasons a photographer might ask about your limits:
- To determine your comfort level
- To find out if you are a good fit for a project they have in mind.
- To clarify because they may be unsure based on your portfolio.
- To find out if you shoot things that you might not share publicly (this is more common than you might think).
What if they ask about nudes or fetish stuff?
I think most models start to feel a little put off when they’re asked if they shoot nudes or fetish content. In many cases the photographer probably doesn’t mean to be off-putting. If they are just asking, take it as them communicating with you about your limits and answer appropriately. A simple “No, I don’t shoot nudes” is absolutely fine.
The important point I want to make here is that if they simply ask, that usually is not a red flag. Plenty of models and photographers do shoot those things. Some of them don’t advertise it or share it in their public portfolio, though. That’s why many photographers ask to be sure.
What if they keep asking after I say no?
If you say you do not shoot something and the photographer continues to ask, that’s a red flag. Here are some examples of that:
- “I know you said no to nudes, but what if I pay you $1,000?” – Don’t let money sway you. This is a type of pressuring and it’s not okay.
- “You said no, but what if I let you pick through the photos after we shoot and delete them?” – Photographers who let you control if photos you don’t like are deleted are fine, but if they’re using it to convince you after you said no, that’s no good.
- “Well, you said no fetish, but does that really mean no fetish or you just don’t do like BDSM and stuff?” – This one can be iffy, but if you said no, they should respect you. Personally, I would avoid anyone who continues to ask after you’ve said no.
Generally, a “no” should be an end of discussion. Some photographers may follow up months later, especially if you are new. That’s not necessarily a red flag, but they still shouldn’t push it if you again say no. I’d also say that unless you’ve indicated that you now shoot up to a different limit, they really should only follow up to ask again once.
I’m being asked about stuff I don’t understand. Help!
There are a lot of terms regarding limits used in different subsets of models of photographers and you aren’t going to pick them all up overnight. Additionally, some of them vary regionally and some might be used more by newer or more experienced people as well. If you aren’t clear about what something means, just ask or clarify.
Photographer: “Do you shoot full nudes?”
Model: “I do shoot some nudes, but I’m not sure exactly what you mean by ‘full nudes’. Could you clarify or show me some photo examples?”
Photographer: “Do you shoot bondage?”
Model: “I do shoot some bondage like handcuffs. What kind of bondage did you want to shoot?”
Most photographers are happy to explain what they mean or show you photos. You just need to let them know that you need clarification. Also, please don’t ever feel asking questions like this makes you seem dumb. Smart models always clarify shoots up front and even experienced models often ask the photographer to specify exactly what they mean so we can plan appropriately.
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