I came across a post recently that showed photos of a couple who was modeling for a styled shoot hosted by local Maine photographers. I recognized the man in the photos as a child sex offender from my hometown. If you are from the town of Dexter, you probably know his face. But apparently, the people involved with the shoot were not informed and never researched the ‘models’. I don’t think anyone meant any harm by hosting the shoot and using these people as models, but it brings to light something we photographers need to do better. No matter the circumstances, find out who you are working with, even if it’s last minute. Use model releases and contracts. Get people’s legal names in writing, and give participants a chance to decide if they want to work with such a person. His current girlfriend has a child of her own as well and clearly allows this man around her baby often as well. This post has been made to not only let people know that these people chose to not disclose this information but to let other photographers know, DO YOUR DUE DILIGENCE.
As for the photographers involved, I have been asked to not mention their names as they are claiming ignorance on the information. They say this was a last-minute model swap, and they trusted the hosts. Photographers need to do better and protect the people they are taking money from first.
The lesson: Do your research, and use contracts and legal documents ahead of time. Inform people of who you are using as a model, and don’t do anything that doesn’t feel right. Protect the community.