There is a strong degree of trust in the relationship between a photographer and his subject; particularly in the style of images I tend to create.
They are invariably insecure and trust me not to laugh when they disrobe or create images that are insulting or offensive (unless we have discussed this thoroughly beforehand and they understand my intent for portraying them in that manner). There is an additional level of trust that involves their anonymity; there are very few men I have photographed that have been in the comfortable position not to care if the world saw them naked. For the majority they need me to be circumspect and respect their choice for anonymity – after all jobs and relationships could be at stake if I were not completely discrete. I am in the position of power but the first thing I do at a shoot is to reassure the subject that in fact they are the ones who ultimately hold the power – nothing is done or photographed within the studio that they are not completely comfortable with. And afterwards they are the ones who decide which shots, if any, I may use for my portfolio or projects. Due to this rather unusual mode of working I have found that the use of model release forms make many people uncomfortable and even put them off a shoot altogether – after all the standard form pretty much says that I own their image & they have little say in how this may be used. I work in a different manner and explain the resulting images will be theirs to review and it is then that we negotiate when and how I may use them. I have found this to be the most comfortable way of working as the model can relax in the knowledge they have far more control over their images – the shoots then become more of a collaboration between friends and trust comes naturally.
With the introduction of new Data Protection Laws (GDPR) I am now very concerned how this will affect the way I conduct my business. They already grant me verbal informed consent as I always explain how their images will be used (on condition they grant me consent to use those images), but if I am expected to ask them to sign this consent there is every chance those willing will dry-up and my practice will effectively grind to a halt. Another part of the law allows for withdrawal of consent – so there is the chance that every subject I have photographed to date could change their mind and my whole portfolio would need to be deleted.
I shall now have to spend a great deal of time reading legal documents to figure out what I need to do in order to comply with these new laws.