My heart feels like it’s on fire right now.
Let’s talk about what it means to be safe, and stand your ground.
I was in the middle of a Law and Order SVU episode when I received a DM from a stranger. This alone does not bother me. I’ve made many new friends through Instagram and many who have wanted to collaborate on projects.
However, I’ve gotten a few weirdos reaching out too. From creepy to clearly mentally unsound.
I’m bringing this up because I’ve had too many young girls ask me how to model or how to get in touch with photographers. When people ask about how I meet such great people, I tell them “Oh well, as weird as it is, it’s through Instagram.” But I never talk about HOW.
So we are going to talk about internet safety, but from the girl who broke most of the rules and created her own. And then we are going to talk about this guy that contacted me cause he pissed me off.
There are these certain unwritten guidelines I have set for myself when encountering a new person on the internet. It’s important.
1. If the person contacting me makes me feel uncomfortable or annoyed in any way, I do not respond. EX: These are usually “Hey babe ;)” or “wow so hott” DMs.
2. If the writing sounds unprofessional I do not respond. EX: This means, writing “i” instead of “I” or “gr8” instead of “great” (who even does that anymore?). If the person speaks English as a second language you can usually tell by the way they write too but that doesn’t mean that it is a red flag.
3. If they are offering products without getting to know me first, I decline. People are representative of their work, and their ethic. If they do not value the person they are working with, then they probably do not value the work they produce and therefore I would rather not waste my time. EX: There was a woman who reached out and said “Have you tried this product? I’d love to have you be a model for it to add you to my portfolio.” It was either a waist trainer or some kind of supplement. It seemed like a copy & paste kind of message and didn’t care to know what kind of person I was before making the offer. This means she could have some wackos on her team, or not care about the product at all.
4. If they do not respect me in even the smallest way, I tell them politely to fuck off.
This is so important. If the person does not realize that they are crossing the line, how would I trust them to be a good collaborative partner? This goes for boys too, do not let potential romantic partners, business partners, mean women or cocky MEN push you around. You have to believe in yourself and the ground you stand on, then stand there!
5. NEVER WORRY ABOUT LOSING WORK OR AN OPPORTUNITY. There are always opportunities for things, if you get the slightest doubt in someone via the internet, drop the project. There is no shame in that. You are refining the types of projects that deserve your attention. You only want the best for yourself so #NeverSettle
6. If you decide to meet someone in person, bring a friend. This is a rule I’ve broken way too many times to count. But I’d like to think that I’ve become a pretty good judge of character. And I always set other safety precautions. I set an appointment I need to go to, I meet in a public place, and I send my friend my location. I dress like a boss, slightly intimidating. and am straightforward with my intentions and questions.
7. Always be professional. Period. And if they can’t meet that standard, ditch em. Of course, there are many people who have wonderful ideas and pure intentions who have never learned how to move within the professional world. This is okay. Still, ask yourself if their work is worth it to you and if it will help you grow. Then if it does, and their genuine character overshadows their lack of professionalism, lead by example.
8. It’s always a good idea to ask questions. Ask people to be clear about their intentions and ideas.
9. CREEP and check references. A few times in NYC I contacted other models from a photographer’s profile page to see how they felt about working with the photographer. The ones I asked about were always like “yeah he’s great” so I never had any trouble. When creeping, look for past projects, collaborators, endorsements. If the person is aligned with anything that makes you uncomfortable you always have the freedom to walk away or ask them about it. If their website looks outdated I am usually judgemental and bring it up. An outdates website is a sign of sloppy work, and a website with little information or a bunch of fluff words that don’t say anything is someone who might have something to hide. walk away.
10. I don’t contact people. Period. Unless a mutual friend has recommended it, I never reach out to people on Instagram via DM to collaborate.
11. Number of IG followers doesn’t mean much. As you will see with the person below.
SO anyway, there was this guy (?) sent me a DM with their phone number and asked me to call. I didn’t really feel like calling and thought it was pretty random so I invited the person to send me an email detailing the kind of collaboration they would be interested in doing (as I do for nearly all clients & partners) the person said to just give him/her a call. I was annoyed and said outright that for safety reasons I preferred email. I will attach the conversation here so you can see how I dealt with hum/her.
It was really frustrating that this person kept trying to push the very clear boundaries I had set. I checked out his profile on IG and youtube. He has 46k on IG or something. You would think that this person would know how to handle things professionally. Whatever. The point of me posting this is to remind people that Saftey and self-worth come first. Don’t let anyone try to manipulate you or push you around.
My guidelines may seem harsh but they are always executed with kindness and compassion. I always try to let the person explain their stance. But being compassionate and kind should never jeopardize your well-being.
We will see if this person ever emails me. They probably won’t. And I will not be contacting them again. If they do, I still probably won’t work with them. Why? Cause they broke rule #1.
They annoyed me.