Ahh yes, the dreaded “E” word: Escort.
In the Internet Modeling World, an escort is an extra person who comes with to a shoot, for the model’s safety. It’s a subject that comes up often, is always a very heated debate topic, and will never change. I’d like to touch on a few of the common escort arguments, from the perspective of a seasoned hobbyist model. To make it shorter, I’m going to break it into 2 sections: pro-escort and anti-escort. Today I’ll start with the pro arguments, and tomorrow I’ll post the anti ones. Thursday I’ll give you my personal opinion when it comes to escorts on my shoots ;)
Before I start, there are very few instances where an escort might be required. A handicapped model, for example, who needs an assistant there to aide with health issues (such as the quadriplegic model Alex N from Michigan, who has someone there to help her at all times). Someone under the age of 18 might be required to have a parent or legal guardian there at all times. But really, other than that, there aren’t many reasons an escort must be present. I don’t consider hair stylists, makeup artists, or other related parties “escorts” as (provided they actually know what they’re doing) they actually add to a shoot.
This set of arguments is often used by those who allow escorts or wish to bring them themselves, either individually or combined in various ways. I’ve broken them down and addressed each one individually.
1. An escort is for the model’s safety.
That’s great, but shouldn’t the model be doing her due diligence and making sure the photographer is who he says he is prior to shooting, instead of just relying on someone else to make her feel safe? Chances are, if the photographer’s the type to make someone feel unsafe, the model might still not feel 100% safe, even with an escort there. And that will be reflected in the photos… which will likely be unusable to her.
2. An escort makes the model “more comfortable”.
It’s really hard to define “more comfortable”. What might be “more comfortable” for me, might be awkward for someone else, and vice versa. It’s one of those grey area things that just doesn’t work the same for everyone, and thus is incredibly difficult to define. Case in point, I brought someone with me to a shoot at the beginning of my modeling career and she (yes, she) ended up making me feel very uncomfortable. I spent a lot of time worried that she was bored, and worrying that she was worried about me. I simply couldn’t concentrate properly.
3. An escort can drive the model to the shoot.
This argument is often used when a model doesn’t have a car, or doesn’t drive. If that’s the case, and the model must be driven to the shoot, the driver can drive her there, meet the photographer/team, and then leave to come back at a predetermined time. Certainly the photographer can guide the driver to a local coffee shop, sandwich place, or shopping mall to kill the time.
In some cases, some people use this argument to say the model will be well-rested and prepared for the shoot. But while that may be the case, the previous statement still fits: the driver can drop the model off and come back for her later. There really is no reason the escort should stay.
4. An escort provides companionship on long trips.
As in the argument in argument 3, the escort can drop the model off and come back at a predetermined time. Not that complicated, really.
5. An escort can assist with wardrobe, hair, and makeup.
Is the escort qualified to assist with wardrobe, hair or makeup? If the person is a wardrobe stylist, hair stylist, or makeup artist, then he/she isn’t an escort. He/she is there to work. If he/she is just there to “assist” chances are there’s no qualifications, and really, a model doesn’t need someone there to make sure the tags don’t peek out of her shirts, that her hair doesn’t get mussed up, or that her lipstick stays on. That’s what those people who are supposed to be on set are for… and if they’re not there, it’s up to the model and photographer to monitor those things themselves.
6. An escort can carry the model’s things.
When I pack my things for a photoshoot, I make sure I can carry my bags. It might take multiple trips to and from the car, but I make sure they’re light enough for me to carry by myself (or that they have wheels haha). If we’re going on a location shoot, I make sure I bring a small bag that I can put necessities in, and bring with me, and, again, that I can carry it myself. There’s no reason for me to need someone there to carry my things.
7. An escort can keep an eye open for things like smeared makeup, tags sticking out, etc.
As I noted in point 5, the model and photographer need to be monitoring this themselves. This means taking breaks between sets, looking in the mirror before stepping on set, and overall just paying attention. It may also help if the model cuts tags out of her clothes ahead of time, but not everyone likes to do that.
8. An escort can give the photographer and model ideas.
The model and the photographer should have worked out ideas in advance, amongst themselves, if it’s a trade shoot. If the model is getting paid, the photographer doesn’t need any more ideas from a 3rd party who isn’t the art director.
9. An escort can help get the model in the right mindset.
Often this is brought up when it comes to shoots where the model might need to feel sexy. If the model brings her significant other to the shoot, he/she can easily help her “get in the mood” to properly portray sexy. Of course, if the model were any good, she’d be able to portray sexy without being “in the mood”, and she wouldn’t need someone there to help get her in the mood (certainly one can fantasize about someone without them actually being there).
10. An escort can also act as a second model in some shots.
And just how do you know that the escort is going to be able to model well, be photogenic, and not flat out ruin the shots she/he is in? You generally don’t. Heck, you don’t even know if the escort will want to model.
11. An escort can act as the photographer’s assistant, moving lights, carrying gear, holding reflectors, etc.
This is generally one of the most argued reasons for having an escort. Most photographers aren’t properly insured to have some random guy prancing around the studio with expensive equipment which can be dropped, tipped over or otherwise broken or damaged. Add to that the fact that any injuries received by someone who’s not there to be a part of the shoot may not be covered by insurance, and there’s even more problems to be worried about.
Photographers who need assistants generally have them, and they’re properly trained to handle the equipment so that it doesn’t get damaged or broken. They’re also on the photographer’s insurance policy in case, for some reason, they get injured while assisting.
12. An escort can act as security or lookout on location shoots.
Generally, security isn’t needed. If it is, it would be up to the photographer to provide it, not the model. And if both the model and the photographer feel it’s not necessary, then, well, it likely isn’t.
As far as a lookout goes, it might be handy to have one in some circumstances, but IMO that’s the photographer’s responsibility, not the model’s. If the model brings someone and says, “he can be our lookout” and they all end up in trouble with the law, who’s to say the model won’t turn to the photographer and say “you got us into this, so you’re getting us out of it”. Note the “us” not “me”. Suddenly, the escort is the photographer’s responsibility too? No thanks.
Of course if you’re working with a model who feels that on-location security isn’t necessary, chances are she’s not bringing an escort with her in the first place anyway. If she doesn’t feel a lookout is necessary, then she’s not bringing one of them either ;)
13. An escort can help the model with paperwork, such as the release or a contract.
Only in the case of a minor should an escort be helping with paperwork. Unless the escort is a lawyer… but really?! A freelance/hobbyist model should be able to read and understand all releases and contracts signed.
14. An escort provides the photographer with protection against false allegations.
This has always been one of those reasons for having an escort that’s blown my mind. I can’t imagine someone who’s planning on making a false allegation against someone would bring someone with that wouldn’t back them up.
I had a friend who used to shoplift behind my back when we went shopping together. When I caught her doing it once and threatened to turn her in, you think she ever went shopping with me again? Nope. I imagine the same principal would apply for other types of dishonesty.
15. Allowing an escort means the photographer is a “professional”.
I’ve always had issues with this argument as well… mainly because most of the photographers I’ve worked with who act the most professional are the ones who don’t allow escorts. Sure, they’re all ok with being dropped off, or with a quick phone call during a break, but they’re all not fond of someone being there who doesn’t have a reason to be. And frankly, I don’t see a problem with that.
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post, where I look at common anti-escort arguments.