14th March 2014, Singapore – So much has been debated, claimed & defended fiercely by photographers about ethics at model shoots (commonly known as TCFD) in Singapore. Following our article on 20 Tips to Prevent Modesty Outraged by Photographers, we have received a multitude of comments and feedbacks from both photographers & models. After much consideration, we’ve decided to interview 2 models who might have “been there & seen it all”.
We were honored to have Yschelle, 20 & Jolin (not her real name), 22 – both semi-professional freelance models to be part of this exclusive interview. Jolin’s real name was withheld due to the sensitivity of her encounters and under her repeated requests of not sharing her real name.
Politics are unavoidable in every industry; this goes the same to modeling or photography. Yschelle encountered one such incident when she new to modeling. She became close with a few photographers, and then shoots were planned etc. Once she had confirmed a session with a photographer and was “advised” not to go by another photographer whom she is closer with – which she later found out that the “advice” by the first photographer was derived from jealousy and untrue. Yschelle found herself torn between 2 photographers and to make matter worse, she was forced to choose who she wants to go with. As a new model in the market, this is not good as she may end up with a “reputation” or worse, marked by other photographers or models. Yschelle hated the feeling of being torn in-between when all she wants was to get her job done
Jolin has a different story to tell. As a popular model who does lingerie & bikini, she is constantly sought after by photographers – males ones. Although Jolin had met a few good guys whom she became friends with, there are others who are getting her service for something else. There was once she got engaged for a TCFD shoot in a downtown budget hotel. She was told by the organizer that there will 3 photographers shooting her. Jolin show up at the shoot and everything seems normal until all 3 photographers keep finding fault with her poses. Then one by one started to “help adjust” her pose – her breasts got brushed many times but as a model, she kept quiet as she do not wished to be regarded as “unprofessional”. Then it got worse when she was asked to pose with her legs wide open facing the cameras and to pose with half of her panties down showing half her butt. She kept quiet and quietly prayed that it will be all over soon. She is probably in luck when the time is up; the 3 photographers packed up & go – without further harassments or “requests”.
Yschelle shared that, many photographers touched models in the abused name of correcting poses. When she feels that the photographer had crossed the line and started to get uncomfortable, she will be very firm & warn the “touching” photographer to stop. She will ask the photographer how exactly she is to pose and she will correct the pose herself. Yschelle also shared that when she start to get firm and serious, most of the time the photographer will stop or back off. In fact she told us that she had blacklisted a few of such photographers.
Jolin was not so lucky during a separate incident. It had been a lingerie shoot and she was asked put on a panty that was almost transparent. To make matter worse, one of the photographer was complaining that her bikini line are showing some pubic hair. Without any warning, that photographer (while talking and complaining) ran his fingers on her bikini line and the forbidden triangle while deliberately touching her where he was not supposed to be touching. Feeling molested, she quietly took out her shaver and made her way to the toilet. Then another photographer stopped her in her way. He said since they paid for her time to shoot her, it’s not fair for Jolin to do shaving during the paid hours. Before she can react, the 1st photographer took the shaver from her hands while the complaining photographer lifted her bikini from the side exposing all the pubic hair in the golden triangle to let the 1st photographer shave. Jolin swear that they took forever to shave and she was too afraid to do anything to retaliate. While shaving, she heard shutter clicks. When the shoot was over, the photographer duo asked Jolin if she provides extra services. She spits on their faces, took her belongings and ran for her life. When asked if she had reported this to the Police, she claimed that she was afraid to get blacklisted by photographers so she didn’t.
Yschelle later shared about another group of photographers who continuously made suggestive remarks to her during shooting sessions that were sexually explicit. She too, had blacklisted a few of such photographers. Even so, Yschelle sets a limit for herself and those photographers if she were to agree to another shooting assignment by these photographers again.
Jolin has a similar experience too. A “famous & well-known” studio photographer in his 50s was shooting her. During the shoot, this man keeps complimenting on her breasts, how round and perfect her ass was. Jolin was uncomfortable. When the shoot ended, he invited her for a meal which she rejected almost immediately and left. After that shoot, this man keeps messaging her and wanting to invite her out for coffee, for movies and even offers to shoot her “artistically” in nude. Because of this man, Jolin changed her cell phone number.
But despite having soured experiences by the 2 ladies, there are lighter moments and sweet experiences too.
Yschelle shared about her experience with 2 photographers whom became friends with her. When she was new & just started modeling, she met Steve Tan & Mike Lim, a pair of hobby photographers. As Yschelle was new then she relied heavily on instructions given to her by the photographers that were shooting her. She added that both photographers are not demanding and pleasant to work with. She also found their work pleasing and not overly exaggerated. Their photos are beautiful and yet no revealing shots are required. So Yschelle started to meet the duo often for themed shoots and from there, their friendship bloomed and eventually became close friends today. Her trust with the duo became stronger when they suggested a private bikini shoot in a hotel and they requested Yschelle to bring along a female companion. They also managed her expectations by sharing that they are trying their best. Yschelle is so close to the pair of photographers that I was told that they even have an overseas shoot planned.
In Jolin’s case, she had done a cosplay theme shoot somewhere remote in the east of Singapore. She was afraid that she might get raped as the shooting location was really far flung from civilization. But her fears were lifted when the photographer “K” called her to inform her that there will be 3 female photographers and 2 male photographers joining the shoot. When Jolin show up at the meeting point, she realized (and relieves that) the group of photographers were all around her age and they hit off immediately. The shoot went well as if she had known the group forever. After the shoot, they went for a meal together and later followed by karaoke. When the day ended, she felt that it was not even an assignment, but more of meeting up with friends and had fun. Jolin told me that K is now her boyfriend and the group of friends is now her best friends now.
That was sweet isn’t it? But in every line (modeling included), there are bound to be bad experiences too.
Yschelle was booked for an “Elegant” themed shoot. The main photographer was very demanding over her wardrobe. He rejected every piece of clothing that Yschelle has.
Not wanting to disappoint, Yschelle went shopping and spent $200+ on new outfits to meet the requirement set by the photographer. I was later told by Yschelle that this is a Free shoot – (what the …). This photographer has a foul mouth too. When Yschelle went to meet him for a pre-shoot chat, he commented blankly to her that she has no fashion sense as she showed up in her casual clothes to meet him. Yschelle further assured that guy that she prefers to dress down when she is not modeling and she has every right to. During shoot, she will dress up to the nines as required. In the end, after spending $200+ and got verbally insulted by this photographer, the shoot didn’t happened. Yschelle shared with me that there was no respect at all. And she will rather not work with such an arrogant photographer. She later found out from her fellow models & photography friends that this guy is widely known for his unprofessional attitude towards models.
Jolin shared that modeling is not all a bed of roses too. She was booked for a private shoot on a yacht to a nearby island. As the yacht sail off, everything seems to be fine until she started feeling nauseous and starting having sea sick. The rocking from the yacht had gotten to her. All the 6 photographers on board didn’t bother to help her or check if she is alright. Unable to control anymore, she emptied whatever that was inside her stomach onto the floor. No one lend a hand, instead every person there back away from Jolin’s vomit. They even shouted at her to clean up “her mess”. Feeling terrible, she went to the skipper and asked for medicated oil. Throughout this time, the photographers were making sarcastic comments to her, say she is probably pregnant, and one of them even insulted her by saying that yacht is for rich people, so this “poor” little girl was probably sailing the first time in her life etc. When they reached the island after 40 minutes, Jolin started to change – but got stopped by the photographers. They commented that after she pukes, her face was so pale that “no make-up” can “save the face”. Ended up the group went fishing around the island and instructed Jolin to stay on the yacht and watch over their cameras. That was also the first & last time that Jolin work with this group of photographers. Jolin later shared that this group are made up of mature men, which is supposed to be more caring and understanding than the younger group. But she was wrong. Very wrong.
From the sharing by Yschelle & Jolin, personally I was shocked to hear about their experiences. Although I know that there are always black sheep(s) in every industry, I am certainly not prepared to hear about what the two ladies had experienced. It was way too extreme and inhumane in some cases that I almost thought I was watching a HK drama.
With a heavy heart after hearing their experiences, I asked both ladies if they have some tips to share with our readers – who might be aspiring budding models.
Tips from Yschelle & Jolin;
1) Always have an open communication with the photographer(s).
2) Clarify & define the shooting theme clearly especially if it involve semi-nudes.
3) Find out the final objective of the shoot, whether it is a leisure practice or a commercially driven project.
4) Speak openly to the photographer if the requested poses are not in line with the planned theme.
5) If a planned theme is not working out, then as models, it is best to suggest to the photographers for a change of theme on the spot.
6) Never show up for any shoot alone, always have a female close friend or companion nearby.
7) If wardrobe is provided, always request from the photographers to view first so that
model will not end up with an almost transparent bra or panty. Size is another common problem.
8) Do not agree to solo shoot with any photographers that you are not familiar with. Instead, invite this photographer for group shoots to understand and know the person better first before committing a solo private shoot.
9) Do research on who are the blacklisted photographers in the industry. And find out who are the models that these blacklisted photographers had shot before and try to ask them for their personal experience working with these marked photographers.
10) Read up more on the photographer, his/her working style, portfolio, to understand more on the requirements for any specific themed shoot.
11) Always shaved your bikini line or waxed it 8 hours before the shoot so that there will be no scarring or red marks as these will show on photos – or worse causing the shoot to be cancelled.
12) Always find out where the photos will be heading.
13) If a pose sounds like porn, reject immediately. You agreed to one, you agreed to all.
Last of all, both Yschelle & Jolin shared that the 6th sense (or common sense) is important too.
Thank you for the really exclusive interview!
*We apologise that we were only given permission by Yschelle Lim to publish her photos. We were not able to publish Jolin’s photos due to the sensitive experiences that she had encountered.
Yschelle Lim, 20, is a Semi-Professional Freelance Model based in Singapore.
She had previously worked in entertainment industry. She has done more than 200 shoots since she started modeling. And she is currently riding the fame as the “Emo Queen” for themed shoots.
Jolin, 22, is a Freelance Model based in Singapore & Malaysia.
Hailing from the F&B industry, Jolin had done about 100 shoots to date. She is well-known for her daring & sexy lingerie/ bikini photos. At this moment, Jolin is slowly moving away from the modeling arena as I last heard that she is getting married next year. (Congrats Jolin!)