Occupational Safety and Health of Private Photo Models - Private Shooting Support Group

Our own bodies have been a battlefield of societal values. Wars are waged based on harsh standards of shapes, sizes and proportions. Crusades are marched upon those who submit their bodies to abortion, sex work and nude photos. Also demonised are private photo shoot models, who are often condemned to sexual harassment and assault.

“It’s a pity that some photographers believed that models who decided to engage in private photo-shooting are expected to be violated. This kind of slut-shaming 1 is prevalent in the community. In addition to changing public perception and scope of body art, we are also concerned with the “occupational safety” of private photo models, to whom we teach self-protection techniques,” said a despaired Siuding (she/her), Chairperson of Hong Kong Life Model Club (HKLMC), who was recounting the horrors of the “Private Shooting Workshop 101” backed by HER Fund.

The workshop was aimed at raising the awareness against sexual violence for private photo models. Siuding said participants were asked to write down their boundaries before roleplaying real-life scenarios, “but during the one-on-one photo shooting simulations, when our photographer moved in on the models and coaxed them to take off their clothes, we realised that the participants’ risk awareness was close to none.”

Of the 30 workshop participants, only two were able to enforce their boundaries. “The rest unknowingly allowed the photographer to advance past their limits, only realising afterwards that they might have been violated. The situation was extremely worrying,” said Siuding.

Vice Chairperson of HKLMC Wain (he/his), who was interviewed along with Siuding, believed that the workshop sowed seeds of risk awareness in the hearts of the participants. “We really want to hold another workshop instructing them on how to clearly state their boundaries and voice out their dissent, because a lot of girls don’t know how to say ‘no’,” he said.

Organising these workshops was not easy though, said Wain, who remarked that Hong Kong lacked grantmakers targeting gender and body-related issues, and that HKLMC had to apply for art fundings. “Art-related foundations require project objectives to be based on art, and most parts of the project to be completed. They will only consider “buying your work” if your almost-finished product matches their needs. On the contrary, HER Fund was like a companion to us, allowing us to conduct experimental projects based on an idea, just like this workshop.”

Siuding nodded and added, “in a society where patriarchy still reigns, it’s imperative for us to liberate women’s bodies and sexualities, and let our bodies be free.” Her unrestrained smile after her comment exuded the confidence and serenity, something HER Fund seeks to bless every woman with.


1 Slut-shaming
Derogation of a woman as an impure, immoral “slut” due to her violation of mainstream values and expectations, such as sexual purity, sexual passivisity, and concealment and restraint of bodies. This could refer to examinations, verbal attacks and accusations against women, and the general critique of oneself and others.

Interviewed and written by: Lam Chi Chung
Translation: Donald Cheung (Volunteer)

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