Friday, January 6, 2012

Magic: Model Interaction - Don't Be A Douchebag

I've outlined the Model Interaction post and it's going to be impossible to put it all in one post so I'm going to break it down. This one is called "Don't Be A Douchebag".

One of the fundamental principles about being able to create Magic (or just being a decent person) is to not be a douchebag. You'd think this were obvious, but not so! The problem with douchebags is that they can't help being douchebags. For them, it's a way of life. They don't know how to be normal human being.

Here's one story that I hear again and again: Photographer asks a model to shoot. When the model shows up, the photographer starts asking leading questions about her love life and ultimately asks the model out. When the model refuses, the photographer gets all weird and throws a fit.

You sir are a douchebag.

Here's another story: I saw this one with my own eyes when one of the photographers at my workshop got antsy when the models were taking time to do a wardrobe change. He then yelled at them to hurry up.

You sir are a douchebag.

Or how about the photographer who thinks he's too good for the model and tells her that she's a bad model and points out her flaws.

You sir are a douchebag.

The stories go on and on. The point is that while this is obvious douchey behavior to you and me, these three photographers felt that it was appropriate at the time of their actions. At some point they decided in their minds, "It's okay to hit on the model" or "It's okay to yell at the model" or "It's okay to make the model feel bad about herself".

How do you know if you're a douchebag? Generally speaking, douchebags are negative people. If you're a hater, you're probably a douchebag. If you're full of negativity and constantly putting people down (just so they can be at your level), you're probably a douchebag. If for some weird reason, none of the models you've worked with in the past are willing to refer you to other models, you're probably a douchebag. If you have no friends (ones that you don't pay), you're probably a douchebag. If you talk more than you listen, you're probably a douchebag. If you are reading this and you think to yourself, "I'm totally not a douchebag" then you're probably a douchebag. Because let's face it, everyone has been douchey at some point in their lives. Yup, even me.

How does one curb douchey behavior? For one, stop talking about yourself. If the conversation is totally lopsided and sounds like a lecture, just stop. How much attention span do you think your audience has? If she's a model between the age of 18-25, do you think she cares about how awesome you think you are?

Here's another way to curb douchey behavior. Ask yourself "Did I just do that to evoke a reaction from the model?" Or "Did I just say/do that because it entertains me?" Or "Do I feel better about myself as a result of what I just said/did?". If the answer to any of these questions is "Yes", then stop whatever it is that you're doing and stop being such a douchebag. Chances are nothing good comes from trying to evoke a reaction, trying to entertain yourself, or trying to stroke your own ego.

Where does doucheyness come from? Doucheyness is a symptom of a larger problem. Doucheyness is really a function of social ineptitude combined with a lack of self-confidence. I'm not sure if there are cures for doucheyness. As I've observed it's really a way of life for most douchebags. I've met photographers well into their 50's that are still socially awkward and still have problems functioning as normal human beings. Fortunately for them, they're rather intelligent folk so they compensate for their douchey behavior by being successful at their profession of choice.

But that's not an excuse for you to be a douchebag.

And just in case anyone's wondering why can't you be a douchebag and still create Magic? Yes, some douchebags still find ways to create Magic with their models. But why make it harder than it already is? Magic boils down to mutual respect. Douchebags create a self-fulfilling prophecy when they act like douchebags. They already have a chip on their shoulder. So when they behave poorly, they actively lose the model's respect. And when the model reacts poorly to that douchey behavior, it only fuels that chip on the douchebag's shoulder. Consequently they act like even bigger douchebags. Because (usually) they think the world is against them.

I think it boils down to photographers being the red-headed-step-child of artistry. Unlike musicians or painters, photographers are not a "cool" lot. I've always challenged, "Name one photographer you know that used to be the captain of the football team"

In the words of Katt Williams "Don't worry, I'll wait" :)

Because being good at photography these days means being good with technical things like machines, computers, physics/math and theory. What else explains the disproportionate number of Asian photographers? Did you think that was a coincidence? And let's face it, if you were really good with computers, physics/math and theory, you were probably playing Dungeons & Dragons or part of the chess club after school. And the last time I checked, neither of those things were cool.

So I'm going to go out on a limb and say that photographers (as a lot) don't know what to do in the presence of pretty girls. They simply freak out. For some, this means becoming super quiet because some photographers are very shy. For others, pretty girls bring out super douchey behavior. They feel the need to impress because they're simply not well-adjusted people. And yeah, a lot of times douchey behavior is just a desire to impress that comes out all wrong... so wrong. Like jokes that aren't funny or even worse, inappropriate.

So I'm going to end this here and hope that I've set the baseline for behavior by asking that photographers not act like douchebags. It's simply detrimental to creating Magic.


  1. Thank you for posting this, Charles.
    I think one factor to consider is that the automation of "decent" photography has attracted a lot of guys, who otherwise would have to do a lot of work to get a girl down to her bra/panties.
    With most cameras on "Auto", and a few plugins for Photoshop, anyone can jump in and tell the models that they're a photog. In one sense, it encourages more people to shoot, which I support. In another sense, it requires no dedication, no professionalism, and minimal skills. And maybe it's just my experience, but many of the douchebag photographers are just lazy douchebags who saw an easy way to get girls undressed. I hope their reputation catches up to them and their popped collars sooner than later.

  2. Nice post... I'm the flipside of this. I know how to be respectful, won't hit on models, and feel like I'm good with pretty girls. Perhaps having a girlfriend helps thwart douchey behavior? I just need to learn more about the machines, technical stuff, and math/theory to tie it all together! That's why in the future, I plan to come to a workshop of a particular "asian photographer" to hone some of those skills more, haha!