At my core, I’m a street and travel photographer. But over time, I’ve been prone to doing the odd portrait shoot as well. I like shooting portraits because, unlike street photography, it feels more like a creative collaboration between two people. I don’t claim to be the best at them. but I’m happy to show my work to others, confident I can do a good job. But after a recent lingerie shoot, I found I wasn’t so keen to share the finished product with the world.
Why a Lingerie Shoot?
I was recently contacted by a young woman via my Instagram. She asked if I would be interested in doing a photoshoot with her. Before committing, I ensured I was fully clear on what kind of aesthetic she was looking for. “I want sexy photos,” she told me. “Sexy” is very vague. So I asked her to send me a mood board of images so I could fully connect to her concept.
“I trusted my ethics and knew I would be able to make her comfortable in what could potentially be a vulnerable situation.”
She sent me numerous images from nude, lingerie, and boudoir shoots. Having never worked with this kind of brief before, I first wanted to take the time to think if it was the right shoot for me. Never one to shy away from a challenge, I agreed to the shoot. Because of the style of shoot, and the fact it would be in my very tiny studio apartment, I asked her to bring a friend with her — both for her comfort and my peace of mind. Unfortunately, she couldn’t do that, stating, “I’m not bothered about coming alone.”
I was happy to go ahead. I trusted my ethics and knew I would be able to make her comfortable in what could potentially be a vulnerable situation. The shoot itself went fine. We had a lot of fun and spent most of it laughing and just being creative. I think I had gotten into my head that these kinds of shoots, especially in today’s culture, are tense affairs where everyone is worried about saying or doing the wrong thing. From my experience, I was wrong.
“I like shooting portraits because, unlike street photography, it feels more like a creative collaboration between two people.”
I Couldn’t Share the Images
I edited the final stills and sent them off to the model. She’s happy with them and got what she wanted — great! Now, with every shoot I do, I’ll share at least one image on social media. I loaded one of the frames onto Instagram, wrote the caption, and added the hashtags, but I couldn’t share it. I had a mental barrier in my mind that prevented me from showing the public an image from the shoot. “What if they think I’m a pervert,” and, “maybe they think I was asking her to do certain poses for my own sexual gratification,” were just some of the thoughts preventing me from sharing the photo.
I started to become paranoid: doubting my own behavior and ethical standards. Concerned, I reached out to the model (which isn’t unusual for me) to debrief and see how she felt about the shoot. I felt we had developed enough chemistry for me to ask her straight, “Considering the style of shoot, did you at any point feel uncomfortable or felt I acted inappropriately?” I knew I hadn’t, and she was quick to confirm this. However, I just had general anxiety about the whole situation.
Some of you may think my paranoia was unjust. Some of you may relate. Did it stem from doubting my own actions? Possibly. It could also be my own biased outlook on such shoots, that men must be doing it for some form of pleasure. I know it’s unfair to say that, even if there are cases of sexual misconduct during shoots. Whatever my barrier was, it was there.
I’m now happy to share the images; I think they’re technically sound (I’m opening the door for some slating). But would I do such a shoot again? It’s something I would have to think about.