Shifts in the Model & Photographer Community



Social media has led to a lot of very interesting trends and I think it’s affected the model and photographer community quite a bit, too. I think it may also be the reason for this very unfortunate shift in terms of freelance models and how they operate. I’ll get to that second bit in a moment.

Social media gives us a voice that can be heard much further than used to be the case and unfortunately sometimes we use that voice for very negative, self-serving purposes. If you’re part of the model/photographer community and you’re active on Facebook, you’ve probably seen someone outing someone else. Sometimes I do feel these cases are just (particularly when they relate to safety), but other times they seem like a thinly veiled attempt to shame someone to make the poster look better. Photographers talking down about those who shoot different styles, models shaming other models for posing nude or scantily clad, etc. These are things that are NOT bad, just different. Yes, of course anyone will get a few people who will agree with anything they say, but in the end I feel it just exposes their insecurities. Overall the community can seem very hostile with models constantly being warned about this photographer or that photographer, rarely for a solid reason (particularly when it’s another photographer doing the warning) and photographers speaking badly about models because the model wants to be paid.

And I think these hostilities are strongly affecting our community. I see new models abruptly stop because of mean-spirited unsolicited critiques, because of the few bad apple photographers who can’t respect limits or who aren’t really photographers at all but just guys looking to be around nude models, or because they’re fed unrealistic expectations about being paid or getting published or becoming famous. I’ve been seeing more and more experienced models who no longer travel or who travel much less or who end up leaving modeling altogether because they’re treated with such hostility when they try to speak up, or they’re low-balled on their rates by photographers, or they’re told they’re not worth being paid. These things make me sad because eventually there may be far fewer freelance models pursuing this creation of art and that will eventually affect those photographers who shoot art nudes and glamour, especially.

This negativity spreads to photographers too. I’ve seen photographers who seclude themselves from the community because they’re accused of awful things if they shoot nudes or lingerie (even though these are often some of the sweetest, most respectful people I’ve worked with), because they can’t afford a ton of equipment or multiple cameras and high dollar lenses, or because every time they share a photo it’s picked apart even though they didn’t ask for critique. I find it saddening that there are so many photographers out there who can’t just sit back and enjoy an image without picking apart technical details.

I’ve stuck with this because I love it. I cherish the friendships I’ve made through my modeling and what I create makes me happy. Of course I always strive to improve, and I feel we all should, but I also feel that it should be okay to feel good about something you create. And if you’re going to critique someone, I feel you need to do your research first: what are their goals, how much experience do they have, what are they working with, what are their challenges and strengths. I rarely speak this strongly, but I feel that if you don’t know these things you have no business giving someone your unsolicited critique. If you can’t be constructive and helpful, than it’s not a critique, it’s just you picking at someone and that’s a lot like bullying. It’s ugly and it makes you look bad.

I need your help, the community needs your help to change this negative shift. We all need to work on being more positive. Share about the great shoots you have instead of only posting about the negative. Instead of feeling threatened by others and trying to bring them down, push those thoughts aside and focus on your own creativity. If you see an image you don’t like, move on without making some negative comment. If someone asks for critique, offer helpful, constructive thoughts, don’t just point out what you don’t like. And if you like an image, say so! You may think it’s no big deal to push that like button or to leave a nice comments, but people do notice and it’s a good way to get a positive association instead of a negative one.

Do you have tips for how we can be more positive? Share them below! And please share this blog post if you agree with the message ^_^

  • Mike Robison

    As always, great thoughts. I try to do pretty much what you suggest. In particular, focus on the positive aspects of my own experience, and on the rare occasions when I critique something, to offer thoughts that might help them improve, rather than just “that’s crap”.

  • Yes… Unsolicited “critiques” are annoying to me as well… Especially when little to no tact is used when they give it….. I love to say, and thoroughly believe that, “A critique is only a critique if it’s asked for – otherwise it’s just unwanted criticism.”

    • I absolutely agree. I only ask for and give weight to critiques from those I have asked for a critique from and usually it’s on something pretty specific.

  • Great, discussion. Thank you for posting. I am a photographer in the Detroit area. Social media has exposed me to a new audience. a new audience, who does not want to pay for my work. At least weekly, I get messages from people on my “friend” list, who tell me how much they like my work, then attempt to use the fact that we’re “FRIENDS” to either slash my prices, or get a free session, or, if we’re talking about an aspiring model, a TFP. This has been a tough, road. I’m not sure people understand what they’re hiring when they book a photographer. You aren’t just marking the calendar of a human being with a camera. You’re hiring a person who saved for that camera (or didn’t) has worked hard to perfect their craft, has a life, and needs to be compensated in order to support that life. My message is always the same: “Thanks so much for your compliments. My rate for that particular type of session is $_____. Let me know if or when you’d like to book!” I used to bend like soft, wire on my pricing, and at this point, I refuse to do that anymore. This is my talent, my time, my gift. All apologies –none of that came free for me, and it isn’t free for you.

    • I feel much the same way as a model. I had absolutely no issues getting my rates and more when I lived in another state, but once I moved to Michigan, it’s like no one here sees the value of a model who is not only comfortable posing nude or clothed, but also knows how to pose herself, understands lighting, and is a professional to work with.

      I have no issues with trade or TFP when it benefits both/all parties. But if not, then it really isn’t a trade it’s a freebie. And if that’s something someone wants to do, that’s fine. But, as you stated, it should NOT be expected and certainly shouldn’t be demanded. Learning to say no has been a challenge for, but after a couple years I figured it out. I still have people who totally flip out on me when I politely decline. I’m sure photographers experience that as well.

      Oh, but, random side note, if you happen to want some tips on social media promotion for businesses (not sure if that’s something you want or even need, but still offering), I’ve got a ton of them saved. Send me a PM on Facebook and I’ll link you ^_^

  • Cosimo A. D’Aleo

    I feel the same. I very recently lost a friend of a few years because he not only started critiquing my work, unsolicited of course, but he then started to do so on my Instagram feed under the photo. Not only was in unsolicited to begin with, then he did it in such a way as to make me look amateurish. On top of that, he told my first nude model, who he was just starting to become friends with, that he “got hard” from her photos and “like to jack off” looking at them. This is a guy with a long-term girlfriend too. So, not only is he dissing my work, but he made me lose a model, who no longer feels comfortable with any type of nude modeling (semi or full). I called him out on it, and not only do I no longer speak to him, but I no longer speak with most of the friends we shared in common. I said it in June when this was happening and I’ll say it now: Fill your life with people who support your endeavors and TRULY want to see you succeed. Many people will wear the guise of friendship and give critiques or “constructive criticism (completely unsolicited of course),” but really only want to see you fail, because they haven’t taken the initiative to start their own thing. Be imaginative. Be daring. Be bold. And let NO motherfucker make you doubt yourself, your abilities, or your creativeness! 🎤👋🏽

    • I would be absolutely horrified if one of my friends did that. I mean, I have friends who joke around with each other, but something like that… no. And I wouldn’t likely be the first one to step in because the people I associate with are generally very serious about that sort of thing. I think you made the right decision in distancing yourself from him.

      • Cosimo A. D’Aleo

        Thank you, I agree. Just sucks that not only did I lose a model, but. Ow she doesn’t want to at all.