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Some Thoughts on Ethics, Sex, Sexual Identity, Modeling, Acting, Fashion and Fitness*
 

I have some strong ideas on this whole set of issues, as I'll explain. I added this page to my site as helpful advice for aspiring actors and models, and to clarify how I do photography.

On behalf of the photography profession, I regret that some models have bad experiences. Using photography as a way to pressure anyone to do anything they're not comfortable with is just plain wrong.

I've photographed quite a few very attractive women and men and have a strong policy not to mix sex and business. I believe most photographers share these ethics.

However, if someone has delicate sensibilities and wants to work in acting, fashion or fitness modeling, they may run into problems. For example, a percentage of people who work in these industries are gay. I think that's nobody's business but their own, and who they choose to tell about it.

Sexual harassment?
In my opinion there's nothing wrong with gay people taking pictures of their own sex, any more than straight people taking pictures of the opposite sex. In any of these cases, models could receive unfair pressure.

Whatever their sexuality, many photographers are tempted to use the power and seductiveness of their role to try and (so they hope) "score" some easy sex with very attractive models.

Many male models and actors are gay, though it would be unfair to use those career choices as a reason to assume anything. Still, that fact leads some gay photographers to assume an actor or model might be relaxed and even receptive to an indication of sexual interest, even as a straight photographer might want a beautiful woman model to think about him. If a photographer mentions his or her feelings without pressure, an actor or model would do well to simply take it as a compliment and politely refuse.

Greater dangers
It's not uncommon for new actors and models to exchange some modeling for photos. That can be a low-cost way to build a portfolio.

Be aware, those new to the industry are sometimes exploited. You may be charged large fees for services that others provide free, told that your success is guaranteed when it's really not, and worse, pressured or drugged and sexually exploited.

What you can do
I prefer to meet people in person first, and I do much of my photography in public locations, but there's nothing necessarily wrong with working in a studio, as I also do.

Be careful about going alone to pose indoors or in remote places with people you don't know. Let others know where you're going and let the photographer know they know. Bring your own refreshments, since a small - but very dangerous - minority of people will try to drug and rape or even murder you.

More common but still objectionable
If any pressure for sex is applied, one is certainly within his or her rights to immediately leave. And if it's in a professional job where pay and career prospects are involved, there are laws against sexual harassment, above and beyond what should constrain any ethical person.

It's no secret that these industries have their share of sleaze. I think every actor and model needs to pursue their career with this awareness - but also a generous amount of tolerance for other people's differences.

My policies on this
I'm fairly reserved in how I relate to models but, as with most people, models respond well to praise, encouragement and appreciation of their efforts. If some photographer says you look "hot" or comments on your breasts or pecs, that's not necessarily a come-on.

I am very professional about my photography. Other than shaking hands or a light tap on the shoulder, I don't touch men or women models without their specific permission. And no touching is needed to take great pictures.

More thoughts on touching
Personally, I really like touching people. I touch more people more often than I used to. It's a warm, soothing way to feel connected. This is one of many wonderful things I've learned from tropical, Latin American cultures.

If I know someone is fully comfortable with it. I may grasp a guy's shoulder or hold a woman's hand. I hug many of my friends each time I see them, without any of this meaning sex is involved.

Sex and love
I believe sex is a wonderful way to show love, but only in a long term, committed relationship. I'm glad to say that many other straight and gay people share this goal.

Others disagree with me. Especially for attractive people, the temptation can be strong for easy sex with other "hotties". I've seen plenty that shows this all too often leads to emptiness, sexual addiction, broken hearts and serious diseases (some of which can even be spread by kissing). All the more reason to value fidelity. I do.

Temptation can be awful hard to resist, especially for younger people. It's helpful to have a higher purpose in life.*

Maybe that's more than you wanted to know :), but I hope that helps clarify some issues.

-Bill

*I "handle" The Meaning of Life in another web page :)
 

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Copyrights: Website and scanned versions of photos 2002 - 2016, original photos year taken by the photographer. This page online February 2, 2006 at http://www.newzoom.com/articles/safe.html - latest changes August 21, 2013