In Defense of Glamour Models or Why I'm Mad as Hell About Many Model Photographers

The fact of the matter is, my vlog installment today is discussing absolutely nothing new. It's the same stuff everyone in glamour photography knows about, and has known about for decades, but few from the photographer camp ever say anything about. Female models are far too often manipulated, insulted, used, abused and sometimes assaulted, and enough is enough. And before you get uppity about the fact that glamour models shoot sexualized photos and somehow or another deserve the harassment or attacks, you may want to check yourself.

For one thing, models being manipulated, abused, threatened, cheated and even raped is hardly a new subject in the public consciousness. Louis CK said it best when he said "There is no greater threat to women than men. We're in the #1 threat to women. Globally and historically, we're the #1 cause of injury and mayhem to women. We're the worst thing that's ever happened to them. It's true."

Louis CK was discussing the dating world, but everything he states in that stand up bit can be modified a bit to apply to "a male photographer shooting a female model". Remove the comedic exaggerations, and you find profound truth in what he is saying and how it relates to the relationship between a woman putting her trust in a man despite there being a very long list of reasons why perhaps she shouldn't.

Obviously, in fairness, not all male model photographers fit this unfortunate archetype of a manipulative abuser. In fact, I would argue most don't. However, the figure is far too high, as I hear the stories every single day from models and other industry folks. I see the blog posts, I see the social media posts, the screen captures of abusive chats, the stories in the mainstream news, the stories not in the mainstream news that should be, etc.

But what then happens? When a news story breaks about this sort of thing, the mainstream media loses their shit and goes all puritanical on the matter, going so far as trying to casually place blame, or partial blame, on these women who get harassed or assaulted simply because they "take sexualized photos". Well, I had something to say about what glamour photography means to me, what it should mean, and a message to either the photographers who keep the stigma alive or anyone else who perpetuates the simian behavior that sullies the modeling industry.

For what it's worth, do watch my vlog post above and spread the word. Talking about a problem is the only real way to begin the process of eradicating it.

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Tim Caisley's picture

Even if its just one photographer, then the figure is far too high.

Any time I've done a shoot with a model, there has always been at least 3 other people present & agreed upon beforehand. Whilst I certainly don't fall in the Glamour or Beauty genre, its common sense & a matter of good practice that we comport ourselves in a professional manner at all times.

Be it shooting in the studio or on location, heck, even when off the clock & hanging out in a bar or club. Then again, I may be overly paranoid about maintaining a solid professional reputation.

Savi You's picture

Sorry, couldn't resist.

Nino Batista's picture


Michael Comeau's picture

"And before you get uppity about the fact that glamour models shoot sexualized photos and somehow or another deserve the harassment or attacks, you may want to check yourself."

Who is actually arguing that models deserve harassment or attacks? Seriously, I think this article could use a few examples of this.

Eric Lefebvre's picture

I don't think anyone HERE is arguing that but I've spoken with young models just starting who do nudes and some of the stories they've told me ... wow.

Then look at Terry Richardson ... it is currently all hearsay since he's never been convicted of anything (couple of out of court settlements but no details so still in the dark) but even by his own admission his shoots quite often turn into full blown orgys (I can;t find the article where he admits this again ... will edit if I do) and photographers doing self insertion into is bad enough but he takes it even another 10 steps further (nude and erect and interacting) ...

You might claim that the models are consenting but there is a power imbalance in those situations.

Nino Batista's picture

The internet. Mostly social media comments, which are often a window into certain members' of society's mindset / values.

Mariusz Garlacz's picture

There is many jealous people out there hiding behind social media accounts which would like to have yours talent as a photographer or have that amazing figure like your models. Unfortunately it's not offered for everyone and that why they write such a bad comments. You do great job and your models are fantastic.

Savi You's picture

Nino is probably referring to the Fstoppers FB group.

Nino Batista's picture

Actually, I'm not. However, I've seen questionable behavior in there of multiple varieties.

Savi You's picture

Majority of Fstoppers FB group are a bunch of trolls. I know, probably over generalizing :)

joel germain's picture

Well, you know, and most of all people know it. Internet is a great door, and an opportunity for everything and everyone... uncluding Ahole to speak. I've shoot a few time new comers to modeling universe and each time, I meet them in a public place to discuss the projet and everything, and also to give them a good hint on what is supposed to be acceptable, and not.

But for the duchbag out there, I wish that photography would have kept its ''glamour'' of the 70's. When people were shooting film and doing photo was hard and a time investment. Things would have probably gone differently by now..... or not... who knows!

Chris Pickrell's picture

A few examples? Do you even internet bro?

Brian Reed's picture

Thank You Nino. SPOT ON, as usual. As Tim mentioned below, "Even if its just one photographer, then the figure is far too high."

In my own experience, two fields that have been absolutely ABSURD with "GWCs" (Guys with Camera) or "Creeps" is both Body Paint Artwork and Cosplay. I have heard from so many cosplayers over the past seven or eight years I have been following the trend about how they are just like what you say about the Glamour Models. Abused both verbally and physically. And lately I have heard about friends of mine that are male that are now getting the same treatment at the various conventions the women have been experiencing all these years.

I fear Body Paint Artwork is even worse, as you can imagine. As Nino points out, the Body Paint Models, like the Glamour Models, are all in various stages of undressed. They are told to strip down as far as they are comfortable with. Many of them go fully nude, as you can expect, and I have borne witness to so many male photographers wanting to be "ALL HANDS ON DECK" with the models during the painting process and ESPECIALLY afterward when trying to photograph them. I have seen too much of that sort of thing and it just makes me sick. That's why I am so adamant following and preaching my own Number One Golden Rule ... The Photographer Will NEVER Touch a Model ... EVER!!!!! There is ABSOLUTELY NO REASON WHATSOEVER in my opinion that a photographer should touch a model. Period. Even when I am showing the images on the back of the camera. If a model touches me, that's okay. I try to give the models more than amble "personal space." I will NEVER, EVER touch a model. And that's not JUST Body Paint either. That's my attitude for working with models ... PERIOD. No matter what the genre of photography we are doing.

Again, THANK YOU Nino for your article and video. AWESOME STUFF!!! Passing it on to as many folks as I can think of. :-)

Nino Batista's picture

Thank you!

Eric Lefebvre's picture

I shot some nudes with a young woman who wanted to submit some images to a newly formed site along the lines of Suicide Girls ... I looked at the site and their proposed business model and told her it would't be up for more than 3 months (I was right, the site is looong gone) but she still wanted to shoot so off we go.

The shoot went well and at the end as I'm packing my gear away she started telling me about her experiences with other "photographer" ... guys wanting to be in the shots with the model, touching her, being nude, making all kinds of inappropriate comments ... no names were given so she wasn't doing this to bad mouth them, just wanted to talk about how different her experience with me had been.

It just blows me away that someone would act like that ... I don't even adjust a models hair without getting her permission first.

I remember reading an interview with Terry Richardson where he said that some of his shoots decended into pure orgy's ... I can't fathom that as a business person ... then again, he's the one working for major brands and magazines while I'm lucky if I get to a dozen weddings a year and book a handful of shoots for small local designers or businesses so maybe I've got it all wrong after all.

F K's picture

You do realise that Suicide Girls is now an international brand.

Eric Lefebvre's picture

Sure ... not sure why you are pointing this out.

I simply said that she wanted to apply to a site that was SIMILAR in style to SG but with a worse business model ...

It wasn't a SG shoot, a shoot for a SG wanabe clone site that quickly vanished.

The name of the site was Anti-BArbie Dolls ...

I'd pointed out that they would probably get shut right down by hasbro right quick for trademark violation just to start and they were offering some weird convoluted profit sharing scheme that made no sense ... there was no room for growth in talent with the way the contract was worded. On top of that it was a share of PROFITS and we all know how the term PROFITs can be interpreted ...

Couple all of those and it was bound to fail sooner than later.

Robert Bejil's picture

And it's not JUST photographers that creep on naive girls. Earlier this year I had to deal with a creeper who was posing as a "model mayhem talent scout" who was using my name and work to legitimize his scheme. Basically he was preying on young girls and telling them they are beautiful and they have what it takes to be a model. He would then say he is booking a shoot, usually for a big company like Target or hot topic, and then link them to MY website to say I was the one doing the photography. He would get them to send him nudes or sexy photos of themselves as an "audition" for the shoot. He even went as far as trying to book them for "Adult Work". He actually messaged one of my models and she told me everything. Luckily she was able to play into his game and met up with him to do Porn...he got a rude awakening when he met up with her... and about 10 of her boyfriend's motorcycle gang members LOL! But its just crap like this that makes it hard for us all, especially those of us who have worked so hard to build up our name and business.

Eric Lefebvre's picture

What the hell is a "model mayhem talent scout"?!?!

LOL do these models not understand that Model Mayhem is a social site like FB and not a modeling agency?

"Earlier this year I had to deal with a creeper who was posing as a "model mayhem talent scout" who was using my name and work to legitimize his scheme ... and then link them to MY website to say I was the one doing the photography."

I'd have contacted the cops and laid identity theft charges.

John Sheehan's picture

Thank you Nino for posting this. The immature jerks with a camera give all of us a bad name, and only by continuing to shine a light on it can we try and minimized it. I'm so tired of hearing the horror stories from models about nightmare assignments, because every model I know has at least three or four. A lot of these guys want to like the Terry Richardson persona that they've read about and idolize.

Jaime Townsend's picture

The first line is education! Many women get into modeling not knowing this kind of behavior is NOT ok! This is in addition to all the scams out there that many fall prey to. I know I'm constantly redirecting some of my family away from those vultures. Women also need to learn to listen to their gut. If it doesn't feel right for ANY reason, get out of the situation ASAP!! Better safe than sorry!

M L's picture

such a soapbox post, this has been going on in the modeling industry since it began, Gérald Marie the head of Elite Paris and Linda Evangelistas ex tried to pay models for sex, MC2 agency supplying billionaire Jeffrey Epstein models as prostitutes. I lived in Italy in the 90's and model agents encouraged models that weren't working so much to go on "dirty weekends" with rich italian playboys agents that suggested that the models sleep with the photographers to get better editorials. Nothing new here its just with digital photography the barrier of entry to the access of pretty girls is much easier than when you actually had to be a good photographer. And I have to say that male models really have it tough with gay photographers as they are much less apt to report sexual harassment.

Nino Batista's picture

A new problem, an old problem - makes no difference. A problem is a problem, and trying to address a problem is not a bad thing.

Tim Caisley's picture

Doesn't matter if its been going on for an age, it shouldn't be happening period & needs to be stamped out. Now if there was a means for the industry leaders to band together & address the situation & formulate a a means to tackle this.

Personally I wouldn't be opposed to a form of vetting, I mean, we do it for youth & social workers, why not do something similar. Yes its more red tape, but if it helps combat a widely acknowledged problem, then personally I don't see an issue.

Whats with singling out gay photographers?

Male models have potential risks from Gay & straight female photographers. Female models have the potential from Lesbian & straight male photographers, all have the exact same potential to experience harassment, be it verbal or physical.

Sexual Orientation is moot, the problem is there, it needs to be addressed.

M L's picture

I'm just saying that no matter how much you preach here its not going to change, and I brought up the guys since this was pretty much talking about girls so I gave a different viewpoint that I have seen. And when you have the agents actually condoning this treatment well good luck…

Lis Beattie's picture

To the people who say that this is old news: One of the things that makes this so disturbing is the fact that we keep having to talk about it.

Yes, it has been happening for a long time. Does that make it okay? Are we really going to react by shrugging and saying, "Meh - that's how it's always been"? The fact that it keeps happening is part of the scandal. Speaking up about it - loudly and repeatedly, until enough people take the issue seriously - is the only way we will ever change this.

Thank you, Nino Batista, for being angry about this.

PJ Gangitino's picture

Thank you for this Nino, every time I talk to a model for a shoot. I always to explain to them that I'm not like that and that I've heard all the crazy stores. To help put them at ease

M L's picture

telling them that you aren't like that just makes it seem like you are, just be nice and professional on the shoot.

David Vaughn's picture

This seems applicable:

While there are working photographers who abuse their authority to harass or manipulate young models, many offenders come from local camera groups. I've met a few hobbyist photographers who all try and peddle their own brand of "I'm going to see how naked I can get you" to models with very little compensation or transparency about what they're doing with the photos.. They are legitimized in the eyes of the model by the fact that they're part of a group. It gives me the creeps.

Chris Adval's picture

How about model's who overreact or have an overly sensitive creepy radar? I know I've been accused by 1 out of 100+ models and when I share the story people laugh cause that model was obviously wrong. Do you or have you worked with these type models? As you are just doing your job in a shoot and they get offended from doing your job? I understand I'd need to adjust my normal processes sometimes to certain models though, but how do you know until you did it, like how do you know you're "crossing their line" as your normal line is at X spot. I had no issues with the professional models of course but the inspiring models its where there are models just not used to be on camera for such type photos, which understandably are more sensitive.

Al Borrelli's picture

Oh hey there Chris!

Chris Adval's picture

What's up! lol long time dPS pal!

Eric Lefebvre's picture

That has been a concern of mine for some time so I normally have a audio recorder running during the shoot for those types of shoots.

Al Borrelli's picture

Heya Nino. For the record I agree with you, but can you support the claim that "the mainstream media loses their shit and goes all puritanical on the matter, going so far as trying to casually place blame, or partial blame, on these women who get harassed or assaulted simply because they "take sexualized photos". ?
Links please. You're making sound as if that's the norm so there must be lots of examples?
I fear you're being hyperbolic?

Lauchlan Toal's picture

Hey Al, it's a DPS party over here. Good to see you. Anyway, good point. Hopefully the balance doesn't swing too far, and we end up painting all photographers as evildoers because of one or two well known photographers with poor judgement.

Al Borrelli's picture

Sup! Sorry for late reply, I don't seem to get notifications of comments.. :)

Deleted Account's picture

There are scammers(and predators) everywhere in every industry. Just because some douchebag will buy camera and try to undress some girls, it doesn't make him a photographer. He is the same douchebag he was before buying the camera. On other hand girls need to get some common sense or they will get hurt by fake photographers or other scumbags.
One thing I know for sure. None of this guys will be watching this vlog or read similar articles because photography is a last thing they are interested in.

James Ham's picture

This is not just a photographers issue - this is a sad statement on the morals and standards or our society.

Until we ( society in general) can respect people whoever they are, how can we have self respect and pride.

Doc Pixel's picture

I agree with every single word you said... however...

Do you really believe that this rant and preaching to the choir will make any of those "immoral, indecent, inhumane, insensitive, incredible-lack-of-intelligence and basic scum sexual-assualt-wanna-bes-with-a-camera".... ever reconsider their actions, quest and desires?

Will this rant be seen by Terry Richardson and will he change his attitude? Or any of those that want to be just like him as "an artist"?

Many will say if you can stop just ONE you've been a success. I do believe this is a very painful societal epidemic you're attempting to cure though.

In this case, you're not only fighting against misogynists and many that only see a 2-dimensional "fantasy" AKA object of what a woman should be.... but also the Christian moralists that hold 50% of the opinion in your country that say that what you... and they do... is wrong because their "book" says so.

Regardless, your rant is a good one and IMHO "the good fight". Also, it's nice to put out there for your fans, models, and assorted businesses you work with so they know who they're working with.

And speaking of things that "tick me off"... WHY and HOW has a feminine sanitary and cleaning aid (douche or douche bag) become the defacto word and description for a (many times) MALE jerk and asocial human being? Why are they not called Prostate Probes, Jock Itch Powder, Toe-Jam Remover... or some other male-oriented pharma aid? Why a feminine device that projects "dirty and it should be cleaned"?

Now. Try to get people to stop using just that word alone, and see how effective you will be, let alone trying to get people to quit putting labels on people and abusing their male power over females.

You might start with some of the posters here at FStoppers (see above)... AH.... but I forgot. Free Speech. Forget it.

Geoffrey Badner's picture

All of this is spot on. I personally go far, far out of my way to make sure every interaction – from initial contact to delivery of final images – is professional and business-like. Experienced models often comment on this to me with great appreciation.

Whenever I shoot with someone new – nude or otherwise – I always tell the model that she can bring a friend/chaperone. Ironically, they almost never do. I guess that my saying they have the option puts them at ease.

That said, you never know how people (models) are going to react... especially in NYC. Because of this, for some shoots where there's nudity or I don't know the model or I just get a weird vibe from her, I've been setting up a GoPro in the corner to capture everything that happens on set. I let her know that it's there to record BTS video... which is true, but it also serves to document on set interactions and more or less cover my ass incase she says I touched hers inappropriately.

Michael Shawn's picture

My take on the whole thing is that we need to stop referring to people who rape and molest models as photographers. They are not, they are rapists and molesters. These rapist and molester have just decided to use a photography scam to rape and molest women. This does not make them photographers. When these type of people use the "Let me help fix your car ploy." We don't call them mechanics. You don't see posts about how "Teachers need to stop molesting our children" when we know for a fact that some molesters have gone into the teaching career field. Please call them what they are, and stop associating them with us. Our jobs are tough enough

M L's picture

can be both in the same person, shoots for vogue and rapes a girl in the same day...

Connor Moriarty's picture

Unfortunately there are glamour photographers out there who make it so that this video needs to be made. If you think for a second there aren't men out there who go into the business for the beautiful women and sex, you're naive.

That being said, I agree with your overall argument, but I think you went about proving it the wrong way. When I look at a stunning glamour shot I see a story within a fantasy world. You left out the whole "message behind a photo" part. You got the fantasy part. If I see a shot of a sexy girl and that's it, unless it's for an advertisement, I have no respect for it. But if there is an elaborate set that tells a story and leaves you wondering how that moment began and ended, that is when you have made a great photo.

Jeff Colburn's picture

Yes Nino, I too have been hearing stories of bad photographers. In my case, for over 40 years. And I find this whole topic very unsettling. I make it very clear to other photographers, and in my ebook, that models are people, and should be treated with respect, and to keep your damn hands off the model.

Have Fun,

Guillermo de la Maza's picture

Never heard horror stories from models down here in MX, where it is not uncommon to shoot inside motel rooms with no other people present but the model and the photog.
Yet, the very first time I was about to do a nude shoot, I requested technical advice from some knowledgeable photographers I knew back then and it surprised me that each and everyone of them came back with etiquette guidelines on the expected behavior of the photog during the shoot as replies (something that never crossed my mind before, btw). That way I learned that the most important aspect of a shoot is to make your model feel safe and comfortable if you really strive to achieve the best result together. Working against this logic is non-sense to me!

Mr Hogwallop's picture

A sixteen minute video to make the valid argument of don;t be a jerk photographer? To be honest you lost me with the spinning chair and waving arms. Rule one in shooting an spinning or rocking chairs. :)
People choose the field they like for various reasons. Many car shooters like cars or working with large productions and lighting shiny things. I know a guy who shoots watches and jewelry, something I don;t have the patience for.but he enjoys the intricate design and fine workmanship. Another friend shoots food, she loves the colors and shapes and textures. I think wedding photographers like money.
Many photogs choose their specialty at a young age (or it chooses them) probably the same with glam shooters I imagine glamour shooters like glamorous props and locations and photographing beautiful women (women 90% and men 10% of the time) but to say there is no sexual undertone begs credulity. A glamour photo with no sex appeal is probably a failed image....If its just light and shapes and colors, you can get that by shooting peppers
You keep mentioning there are alot of glamour photogs who do it for the wrong reasons, I think you are right.
If the wrong reasons are going beyond taking the photos my guess is that it would be a large percentage.

Kornel Gyorgyei's picture

Spot on, I've heard quite a lot of horror stories myself. We need another rant about photographers, who only vote 4/5 stars on images with naked beautiful models on them, regardless of the phorography.