Recording Your Shoots
Models and photographers have different feelings about the need for escorts. Escorts are an unfortunate solution that must be tolerated to promote model safety. It is true that photographers must also be careful when dealing with strangers found on the internet or models that they are not familiar with, because photographers are often victimized.
Types of victimization can be as trifling as a model stuffing a loose garment from the photography wardrobe into her bag, to the loss or damage of photography equipment, to damage of real property, or to unwarranted legal maneuvers claiming inappropriate conduct by the photographer up to and including molestation or rape. In hindsight when confronted with these types of occurrences, it may be very useful to the photographer to have the ability to review video footage from the photo shoot. If you are a photographer, then I stress that the placement of the video surveillance camera is strategic for your defense and protection during a shoot. I follow a few simple rules that I will briefly summarize here:
1. Use the widest angle that is practical for the conditions and for the particular equipment utilized. This will maximize coverage and provide flexible space for your movements without the bother of having to adjust the angle of the camera. Depending on your particular equipment, it may be better to maintain auto focus or disable auto focus. If a model escort disrupts your surveillance camera focus by continually walking in front of it, then you should instruct them to sit down and stop interfering with your shoot.
2. Make sure that your video includes your pointing out the presence of the surveillance camera to the model and that she fully acknowledges its existence.
3. During your shoot, most of your expensive photographic equipment should be in your bag, even if you utilize multiple camera bodies and lenses during the shoot. You should make sure that your bag is in plain sight of the surveillance camera lens. The same is true for most of your other high end electronic equipment utilized for photography. This also makes it easier for you to check that the equipment is where you placed it and easier to detect when someone approaches your equipment location.
4. Make sure that the surveillance camera is capable of picking up audible sound from you and the model and is not drowned out by mood music, outdoor traffic, construction activities, and any other environmental interference.
5. Make sure that a model release form has been signed and that it grants permission to you to record media of the model for the applicable time period. This is in case someone challenges your right to record or seeks to invalidate your recording as evidence.
6. My Sony Handycam will record continuously in 30 minute intervals without any actions required by me. I will therefor utilize an 8 hour battery and a 32GB SD card that is good for over 6 hours of recording time. That will cover even a marathon photo shoot. Slight adjustments to the camera angle may be required during a marathon shoot to maintain surveillance.
7. If your model brings a model’s escort with her to a shoot, then you will need to keep the escort in full view of the surveillance camera. Make it clear that the escort is not to have free movement to any position within your set. If you are in a multi room area like a home or a hotel suite, make sure that your valuable property is not accessible to an escort that is moving around. Lock doors to restrict access if possible. The escort should sit, look at TV, browse the Net on their phone in silent mode, or go to the rest room. Any other escort activity is distracting and should be prohibited. Make sure that for the set that you are utilizing that you have the authority to ask the model escort to leave. A model escort is not a creative consultant! If you are shooting in an open area like a beach or wooded area or park when the model escort is not visible to your camera, it can be assumed that they have less ability to observe the happenings on your set than the video camera as well as having a less reliable record.
8. If your photo shoot ends and your activities and the model’s activities change to include physical contact or even sexual contact, it is imperative that you are able to capture proof positive that you and the model are absolutely acting with mutual consent and that you or the model are not exchanging money for sexual activity. Sexual activity between consenting models and photographers is not uncommon, not illegal, and not immoral or taboo. It is simply not professional, but personal. In most cases the photographer will be seen as the dominant person in any case, especially when the photographer is older than the model. Photographers and models should not make it their habit to engage in sexual activities during photo shoots. If I have had 100 photo shoots in the past 5 years, then I have had sexual contact with a Model less than 5 times. A Model does not want to be perceived as having sex with all of her photographers for obvious reasons.
9. It is not unusual for models and photographers to consume alcohol or use controlled substances and drugs during a photo shoot. In this case it is important that your actions are completely legal at all times during the recording. If you are drinking alcohol, then there should be no minors present including the model. You should not videotape yourself smoking marijuana, or otherwise using illegal drugs. If your model is using drugs or alcohol, I would advise that you not partake in any sexual activity whatsoever. If the model begins to loose control, then I would suggest that you stop all activity including the photo shoot and allow the model to recover fully. It would be very good if your video evidence supports those actions by you. Here, drink this water, sit down, take a break, …
Follow a few simple rules and maintain professional conduct at all times. In some cases your surveillance video will be of value to you as you review your conduct and management of the photo shoot. The archiving of video files may get out of hand as you seek storage space for multiple files approaching 32GB in size. In most cases, you will be able to reduce the size of the file with the use of your video editing software. I would advise that you allow a few months to transpire without any noise from the model prior to archiving the video file in a reduced size.
As always, Happy Shooting!