As a photographer or an agency the issue of models bringing an escort or chaperone to a photoshoot comes up. Just like watermarks on images it can be a subject of debate. The issue is often discussed when we book a model for either a paid or trade shoot. If the topic hasn’t been brought up, isn’t part of the call sheet or questions remain, we will raise the subject. Bottomline, sometimes a model having an escort or chaperone during a photoshoot is completely acceptable and desired.
What is an escort or chaperone you ask? Basically, it’s a family member, friend or another model who accompanies the model to the photoshoot. They will stay during the photoshoot (either on location or close by).
Why allow an escort or chaperone? The model may be new and therefore a bit nervous, the model may be the youngest person at a photoshoot, having a friendly face on hand can help the model relax and better represent the mood board. This applies to brand new and sometimes experienced models regardless of the development.
As a general rule we ask that the photographer or creative director allow an escort to accompany the model if under 18 years old, is unsure of his / her surroundings, or the model is in development. As an agency we do not make it a requirement that an escort or chaperone is at every photoshoot. We treat each model booking on a case-by-case basis. Model’s are independent contractors so ultimately they will decide to accept a booking before we confirm their availability.
However, IF we ask the client if escorts is allowed the answer will influence our decision. Corporate, established or large teamed clients are obviously treated differently.
Trust me here, I’ve been on the receiving end of some horrible escorts situations. Parents that get involved or sit with the model during makeup or hair styling chatting away with everyone. Escorts that get in the model’s sightline and thus distract. Talking excessively. Bumping into equipment. Making comments about back of camera images. I’ve had to ask escorts to leave. Not good.
Therefore to avoid such challenges we make sure certain rules are followed. They generally are:
Escorts do NOT interfere, interact or get in the way of the photoshoot. This includes interacting with the model while in makeup, styling or changing.
The escort may not take behind the scenes photos or videos (even for social media) unless given the OK in advance.
The escort may help the model organize / setup items brought, but they should not go into the changing room / space unless approved by the photographer.
The escort will not ask or be required to assist during the photoshoot.
The escort should not bring food to the photoshoot.
The escort should be outside of the sightline during the photoshoot portion of the booking.
The escort should not talk on the phone while at the photoshoot.
Specific requests by the photographer or client are respected.
Essentially, the escort is there but not there.
As an agency we want the photoshoot and booking experience as easy and business-like as possible. We’ve found that allowing escorts or chaperones to accompany the model in some situations works out for everyone. This is why we raise the subject during the booking process so there is zero confusion.
There should be a dialogue during the booking process whether you are booking with us, working with a freelance model, a model asking to work with a photographer, a client working with an agency. It should always be a topic during the booking process.
As always if there are ever any questions, just ask!