Street Photographer Joe Aguirre Is Now on a Sexual Misconduct List

An Instagram account dedicated to calling out sexual predators in the Bay Area has added street photographer Joe Aguirre to its list.

Several allegations have been made against street and portrait photographer Joe Aguirre. While rumors have circled for several years relating to Aguirre, they’ve finally come to fruition after brave women came forward to speak out about their experience. The sad reality is, what we’re seeing is nothing new. Too many male photographers act in an overly aggressive, sexual manner when photographing women. Joe is yet another name added to the list. And it’s a sign that, even in 2020, female models have to worry about their safety during shoots.

Editor’s Note: We’ve deleted all content that we’ve done with Joe over the years. I’ve known him personally and always felt what he did was a bit creepy.

Keeping Female Models Safe

An anonymous group set up an account to flag dangerous and unprofessional creatives. All of the people currently added to its feed are men — most of them work as photographers. While it’s not a legal service, it’s a protection service. The account encourages people to come forward and share any negative experience (pertaining to safety) with a photographer in the hope it will keep others safe in the future.

In one of the statements made by Aguirre’s alleged victims, a person wrote:

“…he invited me back inside to his room and he continued to take pictures of me topless. The shoot progressed and he got on top of me and started taking pictures of me. I was super uncomfortable and scared. He then exposed himself to me and asked me to hold it while he took pictures.”

Another woman told the @bayareaopelist:

“He tried to touch me during a shoot and slapped my ass. He encouraged me to do sexually explicit things while filming. I was a cam girl so I tried to brush it off but he continued to be inappropriate. He asked if I wanted to do a POV blowjob photoshoot with him and after I declined he continued to harass me about shooting (often late at night which felt like a strange booty call) and would offer me large amounts of cash. I eventually blocked him.”

We reached out to Aguirre for comment but unfortunately, we were unsuccessful.

Photographer Cancelled

Since the allegations, several collectives have moved to distance themselves from Aguirre. Most notably, Burn My Eye collective released a statement saying it will no longer be supporting Aguirre until further investigations are complete. NYC-SPC also released a statement, quickly disassociating itself from the alleged sexual predator.

Are IG Pages Like This a Good Idea?

There will no doubt be a section of the internet that disagrees with IG pages such as @bayareaopelist. Some people are not fans of “cancel culture” in which people can make allegations against a person, who then suffer the consequences without evidence and legal trial. But what’s the alternative?

If women do not have a platform to share their experience, then there’s a great risk that other women could be attacked just like the ones before them. Public platforms, although not an ideal way to convict someone, are a necessary tool to keep people safe.

We cannot confirm if Joe Aguirre is guilty. But these accusations are not new and they came from more than one woman. The photo industry has a duty to ensure people are free from harm, and if that includes publicly calling out those with a history of sexual predatory, then so be it.

Potential Red Flags

If you’re new to the industry, or still building your experience, you may not be able to spot when a photographer has the potential to be a predator.

While we’ve previously spoken to models, asking them to provide tips for keeping safe, we want to give you our perspective on potential red flags.

If a photographer does any of the following, we strongly advise you not to do/or leave the shoot.

  • Pushes the idea of a nude shoot even after you’ve declined
  • Declines your request to bring a chaperone
  • Asks you questions of a sexual nature when emailing to discuss a shoot
  • Asks you to send photos that are not already displayed in your portfolio
  • Makes comments about your appearance that are not related to your work
  • Isn’t able to provide references from other models
  • Asks questions about your personal life including, relationship status, where you live, etc.
  • Instantly suggests graphic nude poses when arriving on the set of a shoot (unless otherwise pre-agreed)
  • Touches you without asking permission (even when helping to pose, a professional photographer should always ask if physical contact is okay)
  • Offers drugs and alcohol during a shoot (yes alcohol is big in the creative industry, but it should never be offered in a photographer/model dynamic – it’s unprofessional)

For any shoot, especially in someone’s home, it’s a good idea to let a friend know you’re going to shoot. Agree that you will call them within 30 minutes of your arrival to notify them that you’re okay. And provide the address of where you’re shooting.

Investigations into the accusations against Joe Aguirre will continue. The Phoblographer is committed to keeping the photo industry informed, ensuring we do our part in keeping models, photographers, and the rest of our community safe.