How to Tell the Difference Between a Legitimate Photographer and a GWC (Guy With a Camera)

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Anyone who picks up a camera can call himself a photographer, but that doesn't mean he's someone to whom you should entrust your modeling future. In the modeling industry, you should only work with those who are true professionals, people who can provide quality work for your portfolio. With a little know-how, you'll be able to tell the difference between a legitimate, reputable photographer and a wannabe.

  • Add the term "GWC" to your arsenal of model industry terminology. GWC stands for "Guy With a Camera." Simply put, a GWC is a guy who spends a lot of money on a professional camera and somehow thinks he is now qualified to shoot models. In the majority of cases, the GWC has no experience or practical training and simply wants to entice young and naïve aspiring models into taking pictures that involve nudity or semi-nudity.

  • Note that there are plenty of professional photographers who have established themselves without formal training in college. These photographers do not fall under the GWC category for the simple fact that they either took some classes, studied as apprentices with experienced photographers or taught themselves and now run their photography business successfully. Don't confuse these professionals with the GWC.

  • You can tell if you're dealing with a GWC by doing your homework and researching each photographer you plan on working with.

  • Ask for a link to the photographer's work/portfolio. This will be a significant factor in distinguishing a true photographer from a GWC. You want a photographer who has experience not only shooting models but with shooting the type of modeling in which you're interested -- fashion, commercial, editorial or other. If his portfolio doesn't showcase any of this work, is really poor quality or if he doesn't even have a portfolio to show, move on. Even if you aren't a photography expert, it is very easy to tell good photography from bad photography, although you may not be able to tell good photography from great photography.

  • Realize that some GWCs specialize in glamour photography, which they feel entitles them to shoot models in various stages of undress, implied nudity and complete nudity. However, the GWC usually produces work that looks cheesy and that doesn't use the best features of the camera, lighting or setup. Be wary of a glamour photographer whose work mainly consists of models with backgrounds that are taken in a house or personal residence and not a studio or other professional quality background or setting.

  • Ask to see a list of clients the photographer has worked with and names of models they can use as references. If the photographer in question is hesitant to provide such information or gets irritated, angry or upset, this is not someone you should be working with.

  • Beware of photographers that specifically ask for young models with no experience. Take these jobs at your own risk. The photographer may be looking for fresh faces but if he doesn't have a solid portfolio and list of past clients, he could just be looking for naïve girls to shoot who don't know any better.

  • Learn to read body language and use that knowledge to tell if a guy is a GWC or a real photographer. If the guy doesn't really know how to use his camera, doesn't know the lingo for shooting or doesn't have any kind of pro equipment to use, he could be a GWC. Also look for such obvious clues as too much touching or remarks suggesting that he'd like to date you.

  • Be careful. Look for recommendations from established models or their agents. Realize that just because someone has a camera that costs thousands of dollars, that does not automatically make him a pro photographer! Network wisely and do your research on anyone interested in shooting with you.

Tips & Warnings

  • Learn a bit about photography. The more you know, the easier it'll be to know if a photographer knows his craft.
  • If you are an underage model, have a parent or guardian age 21 or over with you at all times, before and during the shoot. It's the law.

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References

  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images
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