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Photographer Safety: Recognizing Creeptographers

Not too long ago, there was a serious mistake made by someone pretending to be an assistant to a cosplay/portrait photographer I have been following for a while now. This man pretended to be an assistant to this photographer and asked a cosplayer to provide nude photos so he can “see if she had the body they were looking for for a project.” Not only is this inappropriate on many fronts, it’s downright dangerous. Luckily, this photographer reported this to the photographer himself, who was quickly able to set the record straight that he was not associated with this man in any way and that he will never ask for nude photos of his clients. If you want to read the full story, I’ve linked his post (and the follow up) here.

Breaches of photographer’s trust like this happen all too often, and it doesn’t just hurt the photographer, but the entire photographic community—including cosplayers, fashion enthusiasts, models, and more. They hurt photographers’ reputations in general—they hurt the models, they hurt the photographers. I take this subject very personally because it is personal—it affects my clients, my business, and most importantly creates fear in the general community about getting photos taken at all! There are creepy people out there, those who try to get the infamous upskirt shot or two, or photographers that say they’re profession but just aren’t legit. But there are also legitimate photographers who genuinely want to showcase your art, your coord, and your personality in fun and classy portraits. So, how can you tell who a legit photographer is, and who isn’t? My answer: education. Here are my top tips on how to recognize and avoid potential “creeptographers.”

Becky, Lauren; Collin and Charlie. Full consent given!

Warning: Taking Photos Without Asking

The most common type of creeptographer is the innocent bystander. They see you in the mall and they love your clothes, so they take a photo. They don’t realize that they’re doing something inappropriate. So tell them straight up that you don’t want photos taken of you without asking, but you’d be happy to pose for one for them (if you don’t mind, that is.) During public meets, I usually take on the role of protector. I’m constantly looking for creeptographers and blocking the girls from view. Then again, I’m usually all creepy and gothic, and not in the fashion, so that helps. The most common thing that me and my group does is, if they see someone taking a creepy photo, to ask them if they want a photo, taking control of the situation again. Since these people are largely innocent but ignorant of photography rules, they’ll usually delete the creepy one for the better one that you allowed them to take. No harm done.

Obviously, there’s a bit of leeway here. As I cover many J-Fashion events like tea parties, fashion shows, etc., candids are alright as long as the person understands that there’s a photographer present and that candids will be taken. That said, if you are uncomfortable with having your picture taken at an event like this, let the photographer know and most likely they’d be happy to oblige. I’ve actually had several people contact me to say that they don’t want individual photos of them posted, or to be tagged in them if I do post them. This is normal, and part of your rights as a model and an event attendee. I respect that. (Just be aware that if the photographer is hired for the job, they may be required by the contract to post photos of you, like a group photo. In situations like this, I’d just ask to not be tagged.)


Warning: Taking Photos or Insisting Even After You’ve Withdrawn Consent

Consent is everything! Consent. Is. Everything. This is a huge warning sign. If you say that you don’t want your photo taken, and the photographer insists or takes creeper shots—photos taken without your permission and/or knowledge—you need to remove yourself from that situation. That photographer cannot be trusted with your likeness if they do not respect basic consent. Gather your friends and leave.

Aito-san, Kimura U, Puvithel, and Miki

Solution: Just Say No

Solution: Be Clear About What You Want

If you’ve already done a mini shoot with this photographer, and if you’re unsure, be explicitly clear about what the photos can and cannot be used for. Remember to be assertive and to not back down on your requirements if you feel like your safety, or the safety of your likeness, is on the line.

Levi (and Courtney)

Solution: Remove Yourself from the Situation

If you’ve identified a creeptographer who is taking photos of you after you’ve withdrawn or explicitly not given consent, just leave. Report him to the local authorities or to the convention security. You don’t have time to waste on him, and he’s not worth it if you did.


Solution: Don’t Be a Creeptographer!

If you’re a photographer or if you have ever taken any photo of someone else in your entire life, or plan to, this applies to you. Don’t be that person. Don’t be a creeper or a creeptographer. Respect consent when it’s given. I’ve done shoots before where my client has told me explicitly that they do not want their photos shared. I love sharing the photos that I take of my clients, but I respect consent. If a model tells me that they don’t want a picture to exist, I delete it. If they want me to do a private shoot just for them, I don’t post it. If someone says they don’t want a photo taken, don’t take it. It’s not hard. Treat your models better than the way you would want to be treated—I don’t care if you don’t mind if embarrassing or creeper photos are posted or taken of you. Respect your model. It’s not hard.

Kal from Lightningsavage Photography specializes in creative portrait photography for J-Fashion enthusiasts and more. He has served as the J-Fashion event photographer for Oni-Con 2016–2018, as well as fashion shows, meetups, and personal shoots. He is also a co-owner of Kuroshiro Kawaii. You can follow him on Instagram at @lightningsavage_photography and @kaldec_

He is currently into visual kei and EGA fashions.