It should be that it goes without saying not to be a creepy photographer. Sadly, there are creeps out there and our profession is a "good fit" for a pervert trying to look at young women. That being said, we need to be extra careful to make sure we maintain our good reputation.
This is a disturbing story about a photographer who was spying on underage girls via dressing room in his home studio. "Home studio" sets off alarms for some folks right away, but there are many good photographers who have home studios. Commercial space is expensive, and with the massive influx of new photographers in most cities each day, it's become tougher to maintain a studio space. So it's OK to have a home studio, just be sure you pay some extra attention to some things that may be perceived as creepy.
Here are some helpful tips to make sure that you maintain a good image and as a whole, that keeps the entire industry from being lumped into a stereotype. A few bad seeds really can spoil the entire crop.
- Don't work alone with a female client/subject, especially if you are a man. Also never deny a girl being able to bring someone to a session. I've heard many photographers don't particularly like boyfriends on set as they are often quite distracting to a model. That's fair. The way to approach that is to explain why boyfriends aren't a great idea, and ask them to please bring someone else, but insist they still bring someone. Always insist on this.
- Be mindful of girls changing, especially on location shoots. Try and offer as much privacy and comfort as possible.
- While complimenting your subjects is good for their confidence, especially during a shoot, make sure to think about how your compliment may be take. Even if you had no creepy intent you could still be taken wrong, and it could come off totally different than how you meant it, especially from a young girl's perspective. This is one area where a female photographer shooting a female subject has a lot more flexibility and can get away with saying things that coming from a man would be inappropriate. You can still make appropriate comments, just take an extra second to think how they may be perceived.
- This one should go without saying, but don't ask a model to shoot and then suggest nudes or something different than what was discussed beforehand. I have had many girls come to me and say "xyz photographer did that" and really creeped them out.
I find it really disturbing for a man to be spying on underage girls like that, not that spying on any girl's dressing room is OK, but the creep factor is multiplied in this case. If you see or know of someone doing this, absolutely be sure to contact proper authorities as these type of "no physical harm to them" type of crimes often escalate into full-blown attacks or abuse. I really hate seeing this type of thing in our industry, let's all do our part to keep things above board.