On the second day of an amazing photography expo and convention, I was sharing lunch with a new friend and chatting about our upcoming photo shoot. Suddenly, we were interrupted with an onslaught of “oh baby”, “that’s it”, “you got it, baby girl”, “give me that pout”, and the most awesome of them all: “I know you’re only 18 and moody, but I need you to pop! I need you to shine! Shine for me, baby!”
The man responsible for this was obviously a photographer… by looking at his holster full of lenses and his portable octabox. The model he was shooting was young, inexperienced, and from the look on her face, mortified.
He then asked my friend and I to move over 3 feet because we were “crowding his scene.” Neither I nor my friend moved an inch. He then said “Never mind, ladies. I tell you what, I’ll adapt. I’ll f**king adapt. Because that’s what professionals do, don’t we ladies. I’ll just be the one to move over, because it was that difficult for you.”
What I did next, I am not proud of… but as photographer who shoots primarily women — and seeing the disgust on the poor model’s face — I had to say something.
So I said “No, you are annoying.” But with some extra bad words that I doubt can be printed here.
Guys. This is for you.
DO. NOT. BE. THAT. GUY.
Like I said, I am also a photographer. Almost all of my clients are women. I have helped many women see themselves as strong, beautiful, and fearless, often when they have such a hard time doing so.
I am also a woman, one who doesn’t like to be photographed because I hate my nose and no longer have the body I once did. One who does not deserve to be talked to like that… especially during the nerve-wracking vulnerability of a photo shoot. I mean, it is always nice to give a model/client feedback during a photo shoot. While a “You have a great smile” or a “You are doing great” go a long way to help them feel comfortable and safe, barking sleazy clichés at them will not.
I know many male photographers in my community who are amazingly talented and have mostly female clientele. These men are successful because they respect women and would never say those types of things to them.
If you, as a male photographer, have said any of the aforementioned statements or anything similar to those, please reconsider your hobby/career. You are not impressing anyone. You are not making yourself look good. You are making women all around you cringe and want to take a shower with bleach.
And even worse, if you just bought a camera to get girls to pose in their skivvies for you, please do not call yourself a professional photographer. Please advertise yourself as a GWC (Guy With Camera), so that you won’t scare away the clientele of a really talented photographer.
I hope I did not come off as an angry man-hater. I am not. I am a regular, 40-something old woman who loves photography and men! Unfortunately, I have experienced the GWC problem many, many times. It is an ugly thing. And it needs to end.
So guys… if you want to succeed as a photographer, especially one who photographs women: Please don’t be that guy!
About the author: Amy Ellis is a portrait photographer based in Evansville, Indiana. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. When she is not doing portraits, she is hiking somewhere waiting for the sunset or shooting live bands. You can find more of her work on her website, Facebook, and Instagram.