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 ^_^