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Ensuring a Safe and Respectful Environment in Beauty and Portrait Photography

In the realm of beauty and portrait photography, where creating stunning imagery is the goal, it's vital to maintain an atmosphere of professionalism, respect, and, above all, safety. A recent incident brought to my attention the importance of addressing an issue that affects both male and female photographers, ultimately tarnishing the reputation of our entire community.


two women looking at the back for a camera wearing all black one is wearing glasses
Erin Holmstead Photography

The Uncomfortable Reality


I recently heard a disheartening account from a young model who had a distressing encounter with a male photographer during a photoshoot. Let's be clear from the outset - inappropriate behavior is not confined to one gender; both male and female photographers can be guilty of it. However, the sad truth is that we often hear more stories about male photographers crossing boundaries.

Before we delve deeper into this subject, it's essential to recognize that not all photographers are disrespectful or invasive. In fact, most are dedicated professionals who prioritize the comfort and well-being of their subjects. It's the exceptions that give our community a bad name.


A Message to Fellow Photographers


With this in mind, let's address this issue, focusing on male photographers, but acknowledging that it applies to all. Here are some helpful tips to ensure that every photoshoot is a positive experience for everyone involved:


1. Communicate via Email:

  • Email should be the primary mode of communication. Only share your phone number if the model requests it. Respect their boundaries.

2. Bring an Assistant:

  • If you usually work alone, suggest that the model brings a friend or their significant other to the shoot. If the model is under 18, always involve their legal guardian.

  • If possible, have a female assistant or another photographer present, especially when working with female models. This not only creates a more comfortable environment but also reduces the risk of misinterpretation.

3. Limit Physical Contact:

  • Never be alone with a model in situations that could be misinterpreted. Avoid unnecessary physical contact.

  • If minor adjustments are needed, always ask the model's permission and provide them with a private space to make changes.

  • Use clear and respectful language when discussing poses.


Paul Mitchell Caper Show 2019
Erin Holmstead Photography

The Role of Female Assistants


Having a female assistant on set is particularly beneficial. It can help models feel more at ease, especially young or less experienced individuals who might feel uncomfortable in a room full of the opposite sex. It's essential to choose assistants wisely and not risk your career by involving someone unprofessional.


Proper Communication


Inappropriate language is another issue that can arise on set. While posing guidance can be challenging, some directions are clearly inappropriate. Always choose your words carefully and be respectful. If you wouldn't say it to your mother, don't say it at all.


an african american women wearing a nightgown leaning on the side of a bed holding a hot beverage
Erin Holmstead Photography

Advice for Models


To our models, male and female, do your due diligence before any photoshoot. Investigate the photographer's reputation, ask for feedback from past models, and check their website and social media for signs of professionalism. Discuss your boundaries in advance and remember that "no" is a valid answer that must be respected.


In conclusion, this issue affects our community on multiple levels. It's not about blaming an entire gender; it's about fostering a safe and respectful environment for everyone. Let's keep the conversation going and work together to eliminate inappropriate behavior from our field, making beauty and portrait photography a welcoming and safe space for all.

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