For those who’ve never heard the term out of the context of ‘paying women to go on a date’, escorts are people, animals, teddy bears (etc) that models bring along to photo shoots. Models may feel the need to have an escort for security, creative directive ability, or simply to feel more at ease. Escorts have been quite the debate in this industry and I’m going to try and cover it from all sides and give my personal opinion as well.
While this is a job, career for most, there are still a lot of ‘iffy’ situations that happen and continue to occur in the industry and that’s enough to make someone quit modeling. Instead, these models have escorts. Some clients and photographers encourage it as they know it will give the model a sense of ease during the shoot and therefore get better photos than from a model who is terrified. Some will allow escorts for the first shoot, and then none there after. Some will not allow escorts period.
Unfortunately, there are some models who have had bad experiences and then require an escort for their sense of sanity. They still want to model, but have trust issues and this should be respected. In the words of Bambi Cantrell at her ‘Focus on Fabulous’ workshop ‘The last model brought her boyfriend to the shoot. There’s probably a reason why someone who has been modeling for 4 years still brings her boyfriend.’
Some nude models bring escorts as again security. Anyone can seem professional over email or the phone but in person could be a different case. Being nude is not only giving up your body but every single insecurity and making yourself 100% vulnerable. This has to be respected. Some models cannot speak up for themselves, but an outside source can if they sense something is going downhill.
…And then, there are some models who do not take this industry seriously and model for fun (which should be stated on their profile/portfolio) and bring escorts (a.k.a FRIENDS) to shoots to goof around and do nothing but laugh and can’t control it as they are not necessarily professional models.
Escorts can be: Friends, mutual friends, parents, other family members, someone you hired, pets (some models will bring a security dog!) boyfriends etc
Escorts shouldn’t be: friends who will interrupt the art of shooting, jealous or otherwise ill-supportive boyfriends, parents who are iffy on you modeling, anyone who is negative or will interrupt period, a T-rex.
There are some clients and photographers who WILL NOT allow or HIRE you based on your need to bring an escort. Why? They’ve probably had a bad experience in the past or have heard of bad experiences from other photographers. As much as a model’s need or request for an escort should be respected, so should the denial of an escort from the photographer and either party should come to an agreement, or simply not work together (without hard feelings, business is business).
Jealous boyfriends make terrible escorts for more reasons than I can explain and I shouldn’t really need to explain. I have heard too many stories about models who bring boyfriends/fiances/husbands to shoots who have totally ruined the whole bit and wasted too much time and money. Interrupting, denying certain poses, disallowing the photographer to ‘get too close’, giving the model looks and trying to communicate through jealous eyes and angry faces (interrupting again), making the model feel uncomfortable during the shoot from these feats, and literally ending the shoot simply because HE didn’t like it. I’ve even heard of jealous boyfriends threatening photographers for no reason at all (simply from jealousy).
THIS IS MY PERSONAL OPINION:
I have never seen a relationship between a model and a jealous boyfriend work out, unless the jealous boyfriend calms down and allows the model to go to shoots on her own. There are two routes; give up modeling and make your boyfriend happy by respecting his boundaries, or leave him and continue modeling. This is my opinion based on the ‘pure coincidence’ that every model I have heard to bring a jealous boyfriend to a shoot (who has made a negative impact or ended the shoot period) has simply fallen off the face of the industry.
These again are reasons enough to deter a photographer from shooting another female model who even mentions she has a boyfriend let alone bringing one as an escort.
Some parents have the same negative vibe coming into photo shoots. Instead of jealousy, they’re seeing their baby in a vulnerable position and some just don’t like seeing their baby all grown up. I’ve heard of parents ripping their child from photo shoots, runway shows, promos and just about everything else just because they think it’s ‘too grown up’ for them.
Friends can also prove to be terrible escorts and cause huge distractions. Talking too much, giggling, interrupting… Any one of these escorts can prove to do the same, they can all be a negative impact on the shoot, and in the end, ruin contacts and leave a sour taste. Remember, it’s your business you’re trying to build, not theirs. How your escort acts in a shoot will only affect your business.
A model friend of mine brought her boyfriend to every single shoot regardless. This WAS a good business decision for her. While she was a tiny little thing, her boyfriend was a big guy who worked great as a security guard. He also understood the industry very well (he modeled himself a bit) and became a great aspect to shoots. He knew lighting, posing, composition… He knew how to be a great photographer assistant and could help at shoots if needed. He was insanely supportive and gave no negative feedback but only positive and helped the shoot along.
Did she lose jobs because of this? Yes. Was that fair? Not really. Even with excellent working references, some clients and photographers are dead set in their rules and ways and it should still be respected with no hard feelings (again, business is business).
That is a good example of how escorts can actually be a GREAT asset to a photo shoot.
While this is an occasion, photographers should look into and research escorts rather than simply and flat out denying their presence at the shoot (this is again my personal opinion). Not all escorts are terrible and you could be loosing out on a great model/shooting opportunity. Remember, a model could have had worse experience NOT having an escort than you might have had with another model bringing as escort. That goes without saying, models: a photographer could have had a worse experience with someone bringing an escort than you have had without one. Respect is the theme here.
This is my personal opinion over all:
I do not bring escorts, nor will I ever. This is my job, my business. I don’t bring friends, family members or my boyfriend to my full-time job, why would I bring them to a photo shoot? I have had people and passer-bys watch outdoor photo shoots, families of photographers watch the process in an at home studio (etc) and this does not bug me or distract me. I know bringing someone I know personally outside of this industry WOULD distract me and it would be a bad business decision to do so. I have been blessed with a boyfriend who is not jealous and supports the HECK out of my modeling career. He trusts my judgement on who I work with and knows I have no problem ending a shoot before it happens if I don’t feel comfortable (and so should all of you!). I do my research on every client and photographer I work with to make sure it’s a good business decision to work with them and try to communicate as much as possible beforehand to ex-nay any insecurities I might have. If need be (and sometimes it’s just better to do so, especially for creative ideas) I will meet with the client/photographer for coffee to mull over ideas and to make sure we’re both on the same page. These little things will only help build your business in a positive way before anything negative or possibly scarring will happen.
In the above photo:
The photographer/artist used his friend’s home for the creative design of this shoot (basement for make-up application, garage for creative set). They too (the family) were all members of this industry and had respect for the process. Their girls came downstairs to check out how make-up was going and building-up of the wardrobe (they were all adorable!) their father (Scott) had great ideas and was there to help and the mother (Marny) not only helped with my hair but during the shoot as well!
In this particular shot, the girls were watching from across the garage and helping whenever needed without fault, Marny was holding a reflector in front of me extremely still and Scott was holding a heater for me (bless him, I was freezing!) to get rid of the goosebumps/shivers. Without this team, achieving these awesome photos would have been impossible or extremely difficult!
Photography, wardrobe, make-up, creative design: Jeremy Ransom
Hair/Assistant: Marney Williams
Base make-up; Myself
Assistants; The remainder of the Williams family