Must-See Dramatization of Sexual Harassment During a Photoshoot

Note: Video contains NSFW language.

We've all heard the horror stories by now. Reports of sexual harassment in the industry continue to flood our news feeds daily, but have you ever actually seen it? This extremely well-made dramatization based on a real-life incident is a must see.

It can be hard to imagine that this actually happens as often as it does. If you haven't witnessed this with your own eyes, I know it can be difficult to comprehend how common these situations are. This incredible video is one of six made to show what this unacceptable behavior looks like, it will show you an example of what sexual harassment actually appears as during a photoshoot. The dramatization is hard to watch but sadly it is actually fairly mild compared to some stories I've personally heard from models. 

Ad Council has partnered with Directors Sigal Avin and Mazdack Rassi, and Actor David Schwimmer for an anti-sexual harassment awareness campaign called "That's Harassment." The project started as a film campaign to raise awareness. It is now blowing up nationally as three of the six videos will be aired this week on major media networks including CBS, The CW, Fox Networks Group, Freedom, Hulu, Amazon Prime, STARZ, and SHOWTIME. 

The goal is to giving harassment a face, to erase the gray areas surrounding sexual harassment, and to give everyone strength to say and do something about it. These videos are a huge step towards shedding light and eventually preventing harassment in professional settings as a visual is need nowadays for many to believe it even exists.

For more information on the campaign and recourses for victims of sexual harassment, including the 24/7 national call and text hotline, as well as information on the process of reporting to law enforcement, visit RAINN.

Gabrielle Colton's picture

Gabrielle Colton is a portrait and editorial photographer with a passion for change. She is from Oregon and is currently in Louisville, Kentucky. She focuses on empowering women with her vivid metaphysical portraits. She often uses ordinary everyday places as her backdrop and transforms them into magical spaces to show how beautiful life truly is.

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I wish you had real video instead of made-up video. I like real stuff. I have shot nude models before and would never talk to a model like that. Respect is critical for proper social interaction.

Photographers who sexually harass women don't record it.... would you record yourself doing something illegal and disgusting? I have heard horror stories from SO many models, some of the same photographers, it happens, and sadly it happens when cameras aren't rolling, hence the reason the support of the industry and trust is important to these women

I will do some research and see if I can find some real videos for you though, I am curious myself.

I haven't looked yet, I'll do my best tomorrow to find some things for you all.

I guess he meant video recorded by the victim (hidden camera)

He told her to... And he's in a position of a form of power over her so

beeeehhhh he's being sarcastic. :/

That comment makes no sense. The young girl was coerced and put on the spot as he made the request.

The purpose of the video is good but what a stupid premise and execution. There are about 20 people in the background acting as art directors, stylists, cilents and even a digi tech working hard in the background even though he's not hooked up to tether. Then he wraps by saying "I got it" meaning he got the shot that the creative brief called for. So besides the comment about "being hard" where is the misconduct? If they were shooting a sexually suggestive ad (like many brands do) then the model would have known before hand and it would have been part of the creative brief. And if it was going way off the brief the art directors and/or client would have corrected that. So is it now sexual assault to shoot sexually suggestive advertising? I have work published in Playboy that is more suggestive than this, did i commit a crime? If this was a model test shoot i could see how it crosses the line but showing that it's a client campaign shoot it loses all credibility.

The people in the background represent the industry and other bystanders watching/letting it happen. It's what's happened for decades, it's symbolic of this.

ok but just for the sake of argument. Since it is portrayed as a large scale shoot with that many people and the photographer ends by saying he has the shot... how do you know that wasn't the exact shot that was meant to be shot and was on the creative brief? Unless you're talking about his dialog to the model which was out of line. But if the campaign for some reason (like American Apparel ads, Joes Jeans, Calvin Klein ads in the past) called for a sexual type of vibe he wouldn't be out of line telling her to put her hand down her pants if that was what he was hired to shoot, right? I just think it is a cheap shot to try to portray every photographer that shoots edgier content as a predator, myself includes since i shoot for worldwide magazines that include nudity and have shot several jewelry campaigns with full nudity. Now if the claim is only what he is verbalizing is out of line i agree, but if the message is that it's never appropriate to shoot sexually suggestive content than i disagree.

Well...normally I might agree to have some reservations as you do. But at the same time, first, it was made clear that this was based on actual comments/experiences. And I'd take that more or less at face value (no reason not to...and you know things like this have happened...and worse). But also, I think it's pretty clear the model in this re-enactment was not at all ready or prepared or expecting this to come out of the shoot. It was pretty clearly not part of some discussion or understanding they had beforehand of some creative brief. She didn't take it and own it and start doing what was directed right away, etc. She was more or less berated into it by the photographer (and then even IF it was part of the brief, the photographer's comments about his own arousal were even more obviously out of if the rest wasn't enough). She's in front of (presumably) some pretty powerful execs, art directors, magazine editors, etc....all people you don't want to disappoint because of their respective positions to yours...if you're the model. That's a lot of pressure alongside some pretty terrible comments in that environment...

No, it clearly states this is based on a "real incident"

Steve. . .I have to be honest, your take and response to the video is basically the fundamental problem of harassment and where to draw the line that people face within the industry.

The video is clearly meant to make you uncomfortable. It should.

The model is very clearly portrayed as having issue with the sexually suggestive and inappropriate way that that photographer is talking to her as well as the "direction" that he is giving. He is the one in the position of power and he is the one using said power to cross that line.

Further more, when the camera pans to reveal the "creative team" who just sits and watches is meant to show that far too often people witness some form of harassment and don't say anything. "Getting the shot" should never involve sexual harassment.

While the video is staged, it's stated that it is based on an actual incident. The fact that an aspiring or veteran model would have to weigh either losing a job or calling out the photographer for making them uncomfortable is absurd.

I don't care if it's portraits, fashion, or even glamour (which by nature is intended to have a strong sexual element to it), we've all heard the horror stories before. Nothing gives a person the right to cross these lines.

Thank you, Evan.

You are absolutely right, it happens in all genres, in front of people, one on one, in public etc. The people standing by in real life as this happens also do not often know when the line is being crossed, or like you said want to lose their job or reputation by saying something about it, hence why videos like this are important. The industry has to know what it looks like, know when it's too far, and know they won't lose a job for calling these people out.

It is hard to watch, but this and so much more actually happens sadly.. We have to know what it looks like to get this sick stuff out of our industry. It happens in all types of photography, I just read an article about a school photographer getting arrested for sexual misconduct, happened two days ago.

Right, I think it's mostly of the time a case of "photographers" using the camera for their personal pleasure, it's a tool to lour women in with photos and make it something else, you know?

I lasted about 80 seconds. That was horrific enough, I got the point. The entertainment industry (including modelling) has been rife with this, and worse, for a very long time. Every sector has its scumbags but yhe thing that really gets me is all those who support such perpetrators of that behaviour with their silent encouragement. No way I'd want my kids anywhere near this industry.

While I understand what many are saying about inaccuracies, the thing that always makes me sick is the thought of all the people posing as “photographers” preying on young models and creating highly sexualized shoots. I think it’s fair to say that most true commercial photographers would never act this way. What’s scary is the swaths of fake lurking on Facebook model group. It hurts me to see a medium I love so much used for such predatory agendas.....

This was very hard to watch. More than once I had to stop the video, take a deep breath and remember that it is a re-enactment. What bothers me is that it is based on actual events. I've heard some stories from models I've shot with, and while they aren't like this, they have had some interesting experiences. Mainly weird stuff that has absolutely nothing to do with the photoshoot. One guy asked a model if he could smell her shoes. Thankfully she told him where to go.
I have always respected women, even before I got into photography and would never speak to a woman like this. I don't see my position as a position of power. I am a human being first of all and so are the others working on a shot with me. If I, or anyone, says or does something inappropriate you can bet it gets dealt with. I want a happy experience when shooting for everyone involved.

I watched a minute of this and almost immediately started getting uncomfortable. Within a few seconds I couldn't even look at the video and within about 30 seconds, I had turned it off. I'm sure it got worse. And the sad fact is, this is real life for some people. It made me nauseous just watching/listening to it. Imagine being HER

I get shivers every time I watch this video!

Me too, it's awful.

Wow, that really was difficult to watch. I can't imagine ever treating someone like that, much less how it must feel to actually be treated in such a way. I kept hoping for a cut, an edit of some sort to break the tension, but that long single take really, REALLY drives the point home.

A truly powerful video. I was legitimately impressed with the production value while simultaneously being 105% creeped out.

Explain why she is part of the problem and not a result of it. Yes, there are women out there who are strong and will most definitely tell him he's out of line. However there are also women (I should also say men too) who are easily intimidated.
How do you empower the model when they feel a lot of pressure to get the image? You are right, Harassment festers in the dark and the people in the background, whether there physically or not, need to listen when the model speaks up about issues like this. Yes, we all need to learn to listen. We also need to stop this from happening in the first place. Prevention is better than cure.

I'm not so naiive that I will ever think this problem will stop. It wont. If there is more than one person in the world, one will always think they have more power or authority over the other. Just saying no can be one of the hardest things to do. Especially if you *believe* you have no power.
Have you ever been in a situation where you had to do a job you didn't like simply because you needed the money?
This started out being a 'fairly simple' discussion about sexual harassment and now I find I'm wondering what it is that drove people to make the decisions they made on the day.
I agree with the political correctness and indeed 'social justice warriors'. I'm not saying I want to be able to insult who I like, I'm saying that I feel like I can't do anything without someone finding fault.

It is the important difference between power and authority. "That woman" was a little girl compared to the strong alpha male photographer in the video. He used the authority of his position mercilessly and very effectively.

Some of us with children of our own have seen enough already in real life that we don't feel the need to see more of it, particularly in the time we set aside to look at photography websites. That's not being "sensitive and easily traumatized", that's being deliberate about what we feed our brains with.

Unfortunately, many children are not brought up "properly". So they remain children even after the law says they are adults. The fact that this makes them easy prey does not excuse either the predator or those who support the predator.

I agree with that. We do our children a great disservice by increasingly encouraging families to break apart, and by encouraging situations where children are raised by anyone other than both their biological parents.

I don’t agree with abusing power in any setting, but at the same time everyone has the power to not roll over and play dead even skinny young “innocent” girls. I find anyone trying to create a video for “awareness” or to “educate ” people suspect myself, won’t be susprised to find out in a few months the lady writing these was into some hardcore stuff herself. I give the video 2/5 stars for fantasy fetish content, I’ve seen plenty with intros just like it. When the video started I found the cheese factor a bit high from the photographer, #bandwagon content.

I have heard story after story of behavior like this and a lot worse. I shoot a lot of various styles, when I am shooting nudes or lingerie or really anything sexualized and I can tell that my client or subject is nervous I start talking to them and acting like a flamboyant gay man, this makes it more relaxed and fun for them and lets them know thats not why I'm here.

I started a facebook group for the Mid West to promote safe networking between models and photographers. Its primarily a TFP platform but it helps with amateurs. I wish I knew more about the professional world so I could try to help there as well.

This is awesome and a good idea, women feel much more comfortable for the most part around men who are more in touch with the feminine side. Starting random fun convo helps too

Is that Bobby Cannavale? Someone please teach the man how to hold a gripped body correctly in portrait orientation.

haha, i hold mine weirdly like this sometimes without even noticing

Ok, I couldn't even continue watching that! OMG! I feel soiled!

Or... the model could have just said "NO!". And then, when he said "are we done?", she could have said "Yes!", then talked to the agency etc.

Nope, photographers are in a position of power, it is very hard for models, especially young new ones to say no........

Bob Bob Bob

haha HI

I wonder how long a model could keep on working if she kept saying "no". The top models are a different story. I know that was just a dramatization. But, every direction the photographer gave her could have been cleaned up. He sounded like a over/under-sexed pervert.

Huge perv

No, they're not in a position of power. It is just that the model is prepared to sacrifice dignity in the fear that she will lose work if she stands up for what she believes. How can that not be true? This whole 'power' thing is a cop-out. As individuals, we all have to assert ourselves at times, sometimes in the face of possible consequences that are frightening to us - but that's what character is - standing your ground in the face of potential loss. Stop making excuses for people with lame excuses like 'power' - no one is holding a gun to their head. Instead, start telling 'the sisterhood' to stop being compliant in such situations and just say no.

I'm sorry but which one is it then, reenactment of a specific incident or a fictional story full of symbolism!? I'm referring to the crew behind the photographer that many here label as symbolism. Its either one or the other, it cannot be both. The moment you add symbolism to a reenactment of a real story, you will change the story completely. As accurate as the symbolism might be, it will no longer be a real story. At the best its a sum of many real stories, but not an actual incident.
If you add fictional elements but serve it as a real incident, isn't that called fake news these days!? This video is so creepy that one couldn't finish watching it in one sitting, there are lessons to be learned for everyone, but it really needs to be labelled correctly, is it real or not, otherwise it is a mess that will heavily damage the people in the industry that have nothing to do with this type of behaviour.
So, which one is it then?

A dramatization but a real representation of the lack of diversity in the industry. Smh

Absolutely Aaron