Wednesday, October 31, 2012

An Open Letter to Young Amateur Models

Like most photographers nowadays it seems, I enjoy working on personal projects with models when things quiet down for me.  I dream of one day creating my own photo book or having my own art show.  I enjoy being creative and working with creative people.  I like to photograph themed shoots, fashion, sports and even artful nudes.  It alarms me though that there is this sub-culture that exists around under-age models working with photographers in ways that I'm not sure are legitimate.  

So I decided after a recent contact from a young model, that I'd write a little letter.  I've included it here.  I hope it goes out to every young model.  It isn't meant to squash your dreams.  It's meant to be some feeble attempt to keep you safe and happy.  


David said...

I have read your blog for a couple a years and have really liked your posts. However this one I must fully disagree with. A young attractive girl will always have to look out "creepy" individuals at age 13, 16, 18, 21 and even 35. So I don't see how that should matter. I would say the letter should say that if young girls should always bring their parents, boyfriends or whom ever else makes them comfortable to a photo shoot. Photographers always need extra people to hold reflectors, a light meter extra, and when put to work will be a win win for all.

I don't know you, but think that you are trust worthy and should accept to photography young models. They need the samples, and whom best to make the images. I think a possible real reason you declined is your afraid to present images that might seem provocative or explicit and you do not what a negative label.
Turn to your self and see the real reason why you would reject a model.

Neil Gaudet said...

Hey David

Thanks for the comment.

I've never said I won't photograph someone under age. I will and I have. But for me, that happens in one of two circumstances. If I'm being hired by the parents and they are present during the shoot. Or if I'm doing commercial work which requires young models, in which case the model is paid and the parent has signed off on the work. Both situations are very rare.

I'm more concerned with, and this prompted the letter, the prevalence of underage models in very provocative shoots that are so common on certain modelling websites. It seems so common to see older male photographers working for free with underage girls in ways that make me as a father and human being very uncomfortable.

As for the negative label for myself. Absolutely true, I don't want that negative label. Your point is well taken. I fear it very much. But know this, I'm not rejecting models for legitimate work just because they are under-age. I'm just choosing not to spend my un-paid free time photographing children.

I'm happy to work TFCD with models, though I'm very selective now when I do. And when I do, it's not something I want to have teen models for.

I think there are a lot of circumstances where working with younger models is totally respectful and appropriate. I wrote the blog post as more of a statement against the prevalent photos I see where it clearly isn't.