An Inappropriate Studio Portfolio Builder Day

My interest in this studio day should have stopped as soon as I saw the logo for the studio. “Why would anybody still be using a logo designed in the age of Microsoft publisher?” I asked myself.

I didn’t listen to that gut instinct though, the lure of getting to shoot with 6 new models who I’d not worked with before was too strong and after much deliberation I booked myself onto this studio day.

I arrived at the industrial estate location and didn’t think much of it, some of the best studios I have worked in have been tucked away on industrial estates, where space comes much cheaper than in city centres. As I entered the studio I said hello to a couple of the models who were chatting and introduced myself to the studio owner and the other photographers there. They seemed a friendly bunch, all men, nothing out of the ordinary there either.

As I started to wonder around the studio, my mind wondered back to their logo, it all made sense now. It was like stepping into a studio from the 80’s, from the large tie-dye photography backdrop to the unrealistic wood-effect patches of wallpaper on the walls to shoot against. A random bed in the middle of the studio which had at least 3 different wallpaper effects going on around it made it largely unusable.

One of the other photographers showed me around and as he opened the door to the salon (a hairdressers chair in the middle of a room and a shower in the corner), he commented how he’d shot there before but not been lucky enough to get any of the models into the shower yet. An odd comment, but I let it go. We finished in a room which largely contained a wall they’d stuck newspaper against and I think he saw my concern as he tried to explain to me how good the shots were against this wall. My concern wasn’t just the room, it was his previous comment about how he liked the fact it was so cold in there as it made the models nipples stand to attention!

The one good thing in this studio was the white infinity wall which was well made and would potentially allow some good shots, I was trying desperately to find something in this 80’s adult movie set of a studio to inspire me, so I clung onto this.

As the models were getting changed in a separate room I stood with the other photographers and as the studio owner put down a piece of paper which contained the models levels, it was pounced on quicker than that fat kid and his candy. “Look she’s working to nude, her body is stunning” and “she has amazing breasts” were some of the comments I can type here, there were a few I can’t.

As the conversation amongst middle aged men turned to which model they wanted to “get with” and by that I don’t mean photograph, I knew I needed to leave, this wasn’t for me. Luckily my phone rang and I headed outside to take a wedding enquiry which gave me time to take stock and decide if I was being a bit too sensitive.

Maybe I was, maybe I wasn’t, you’ll come to your own conclusions. But for me this wasn’t photography, it was a group of men wanting to photograph nude girls. There was no art in that room, there was no talk about lighting, no discussion about outfits or styling, no storytelling, not even a single mention about camera settings (a must for any photography event!).

I made my excuses and left about 30 minutes into the shoot. I’ll now be known as the weirdo who paid £50.00 to come, look around and leave without taking a single shot, but I just couldn’t partake in that.

There was a nice guy there who had contacted me previously about coming on the Peterborough photowalk I run or doing some training with me and my heart sinks that this is his introduction to photographing models, because this wasn’t a photo-shoot, this was just ever so slightly more than seedy. It’s little wonder photographers get such a bad rep sometimes when there are events like this taking place.

Lesson well and truly learnt, I have been around the photography world long enough now to know I need to trust my instinct.

It was the logo, I should have stopped when I saw that logo…


Leave a comment