It seems that lately I’ve been asked this question a lot and with the amount of models that I shoot with, especially new models fresh to the scene, it’s a good topic to discuss: the escort policy. I believe that this is one issue that every photographer who works as a portrait artist should address and have a firm set of guidelines that they stand by.
Wait… Mike! Stop! What exactly is an escort?
Oh… right… duh! Well, an escort is any person that a model brings with them just to ensure their safety especially during first time shoots or shoots where the subject might be a bit out of their normal comfort zone.
So what’s your policy, Mike?
I have a pretty simple policy that I developed after reading a lot of blog, books, magazines, etc. and, while it has been tough at times to stand by it firmly, I have managed to do just that and I find that it works best for all parties involved.
I have no problem with an escort coming along to a shoot as long as they are of the opposite sex and not a significant other. If the shoot is of a personal nature, I leave it up to the model to decide if they want that person “in the room” or just nearby.
So… why does it matter?
It matters for two reasons. The first is definitely the safety and comfort of the model. I want all the models and clients I work with to be as relaxed and comfortable as possible and if an escort helps them feel safe for the first shoot or two, I say go for it. The second is for the photographer’s protection.
Let’s get intimate… wait… what?
While I have not personally had an issue so far, I find that the connection between a photographer and his subject is often a lot more intimate than most people truly realize. While it is not a romantic connection by any means, it is a connection between two human beings. The model is definitely opening themselves up to a level of vulnerability that only that photographer and a select few ever truly get to see, let alone, capture on film.
So, I’ve found that with that intimacy being there, close friends of the same-sex usually have no issue. They are just that… friends. However, members of the opposite sex, whether they are in a relationship with the model or not, tend to switch into a protective mode, which is a natural instinct. And, if they are in a relationship, there is definitely major possibilities for jealousy.
So that’s my policy for those who are curious. I’ve found it works great and, while I have had some questions and a bit of compromising here and there, for the most part, it works for all parties.