Tips on staying safe when modelling outside of events

Copyright photofairground, used with permission
Group Captain Tony “Bootstrap” Bates

Tony Bates is the Group Captain of Steampunk Doncaster and he’s taken time to draw on his vast experience to give us all a few guidelines when arranging photography shoots outside of steampunk events.

Words by Tony Bates

Image copyright
Image copyright

As a professional photographer and videographer, I have spent many years behind the lens of both stills and video cameras shooting people. I was even employed by the NHS for over a decade. Throughout my time there, I had to learn the delicate art of coaching people to relax and act naturally in front of the lens.

In more recent times, I have had the tables turned on me, as I have become involved with steampunk, I am now being asked to pose for photographs on a regular basis. As the Group Captain, I help to organise Steampunk Doncaster alongside my equally bonkers wife Candice as well as a team of first-rate volunteers and steampunk enthusiasts, all of whom work hard to put on a Charity event in Doncaster raising money for the Doncaster Deaf Trust and having a jolly good weekend festival at the same time.

One question I keep being asked by my fellow steampunks is about modelling for various photographers. Not many steampunks are professional models and very few even consider charging a fee to model. However even if you are appearing on camera just for the fun of it, there are one or two things to seriously consider before heading off with a photographer.

We have all seen the news and read newspaper reports about the horrors of social media, the internet and the press. But I cannot stress enough the importance of staying safe on a shoot.

Most photographers are genuinely nice people and many are as keen on steampunk and the subjects that they photograph. It is good etiquette to ask permission before taking someone’s photograph and you can always say no if you don’t wish to pose.

If you are in steampunk attire and in a public place, the law is clear about the photographer’s rights to take images freely. If you are on a private site, such as the Doncaster Deaf Trust, then it is the Model/Subject who has the right to refuse.

But this is not the problem area!
What happens when a photographer asks you to meet him at a different location or on a different day? This happens a lot and here are some simple words of advice I would urge you to consider.

Safety Ideas to Take to Shoots
When you have agreed a shoot with anyone face to face or even online the basic information to gather and leave at home, as well as the things to take with you for your own safety include the following:

  1. Always take along a close friend or relative to chaperone you while on a shoot. A genuine photographer will always be happy for the chaperone to be there as often they can be roped in to hold bags and provide assistance, as well as look out for the well being of their friend. If the photographer seems in any way reluctant to have a chaperone along with you, you can WALK AWAY!
  2. Take your fully charged mobile phone with you. This can also be useful for playing games on or checking in on social media while the photographer sets up his camera equipment.
  3. Take your mobile phone in-car chargers with you in case you need to top up the charge on your phone.
  4. Take some cash or a working debit/credit card in case you need to grab a taxi at any stage or leave the shoot to get out of a situation.
  5. Leave information of your whereabouts with someone at home who you trust and can check in with. This should include the person’s name and mobile telephone number – as well as the shoot address – of who you will be working with. Even with a chaperone accompanying you.
  6. Leave the times you are expected back with someone at home, again someone you can trust. It is a good idea to notify someone when you arrive at a shoot and when you leave and get home safely.
  7. Text the colour, make, model and car license plate of who you will be working with to a close friend or family member, if you are going to a shoot on location. Try to use discretion with this. You don’t want the photographer to think you suspect him of anything or it will create a bad atmosphere and the shoot will be sour.
  8. Take your own water with you, or only accept drinks which are clearly still sealed or from a tap or drinking fountain. Do not drink alcohol at shoots.
  9. Carry pain killers with you in case of headaches or menstrual cramps. It is better to not take prescription or over the counter drugs from people you do not know, no matter how honest, knowledgeable or nice they may appear.
  10. Look at a map before the shoot so you are somewhat familiar with the area and know a little about where to go if you have to leave a shoot.

This advice is of equal value to all ages and genders, no matter how worldly wise you feel you are.

Finally have fun on your shoot and always ask for copies of the best images for yourself. We hope this advice proves helpful.

You can learn more about Steampunk Doncaster at their website: Steampunk Doncaster

2 thoughts on “Tips on staying safe when modelling outside of events

  1. Tony – some very sensible thoughtout advice there covering areas I had never considered. As a would be photographer I do ask models to do shoots on location and always state that I have no objections to a chaperone.

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