“Instruction in sex is as important as instruction in food; yet not only are our adolescents not taught the physiology of sex, but never warned that the strongest sexual attraction may exist between persons so incompatible in tastes and capacities, that they could not endure living together for a week, much less a lifetime.”   ~George Bernard Shaw, 1944

            I love my job. What’s not to love about being a photographer? Imagine being paid to be creative. Imagine meeting new and interesting people (most are) on a regular basis and doing what you love as a career- a career that began with aspirations of becoming a fashion designer. Road trips with my fraternity brothers and a used Nikon film camera became a catalyst for the present day career I enjoy. The public began to take notice of the images I took on road trips-mostly images of us goofing around, scenery, and the occasional attractive college girl. A demand soon arose from female college students wanting professional photos, and I happily obliged. The demand and financial compensation never stopped. I had the option of toiling away in obscurity, waiting to be discovered as a fashion designer …or the current opportunity in front of me to realize my artistic potential…and a fashion photographer had emerged. I’ve been adding to my brand ever since.
            The life of a professional photographer is not the glitz and glamour that the typical consumer thinks it is. After all, it’s an industry overpopulated with people who already have overinflated egos, and you provide a specific service that further fuels their narcissism. When shooting weddings, one would think it’s the happiest day of a couple’s life. It’s also one of the most stressful. People are on edge because it’s running late, lots of guests didn’t shown up, the bride doesn’t like her makeup, the florist is stuck in traffic, she’s nervous…and it’s finally sinking in how much debt this new couple has gotten themselves in by putting on a fairytale wedding that no one is impressed by. This industry is extremely competitive and like any business, you’ve gotta be able to give them what they want, or they’ll spend their money elsewhere. That means that for the right money, I’ve shot glamour, fashion, weddings, corporate events, bad-ass children, creepy fetish stuff, maternity shoots with bitchy women, and even funerals.  
            Today a friend asked to use the Internet feature on my ipad to check email. After viewing it, he closed out the window, which took him back to the ipad’s home screen-a full-length fashion shot of one of my models. He ventured into the photo galleries of my ipad, categorized for the diverse clients that I provide services for: Glamour, Fashion, Special Events, Photojournalism, Travel, Commercial/Editorial, and Urban. Urban is really just a euphemism for Eye Candy photography…affectionately known by the fellas closest to me as “the titties and ass shots.”
His eyes widened with each image and he surveyed the photos. I knew what he was about to say and ask next. His head shook in disbelief as he continued to view.
“I don’t know how you do it,” he added. I knew what his next statement would be. Almost on cue with my thought, he exclaimed, “Yo…I couldn’t be a photographer. If I were you…I’d be bangin’ every one of these girls.”
I waited for the most asked question from my male friends. Then it came. “Yo…have you ever smashed one of the models? There’s no way you could be shooting them and not fuckin’ em.”
           I told him that when you start to do that, your career is essentially over. After explaining that I’ve never indulged in sex with a client and never would, he still didn’t seem convinced. Since my friend was in real estate, I decided to answer his question in a manner in which it would be relevant to his career. I told him it’s a lot like owning property. Let’s say you’re the owner of a Duplex, and you rent one of the units to a single, attractive tenant. You fully understand that this is business and this woman pays you for a service-in this case it’s $800 a month for rent. Still your carnal instincts get the best of you and you find yourself laying more pipe than what’s found under the granite kitchen countertops. Now that you’ve mixed business with pleasure, your tenant is guaranteed to look at you like you’re crazy the next time you ask her why the rent is late or wasn’t paid that month. Women often sign contracts in invisible ink. Congratulations…your dick just signed a new 12-month lease for some free, or severely discounted and late rent. I’m a photographer. I shoot for the art and the money, and not for the women.  Many people who don’t work in the field naively think that one can have both, but it will not work. People don’t want to pay. No one likes paying for services. They realize that they have to pay. Once you begin to cloud the lines of business, the pussy will become the unofficial payment, and you’ll find your business taking a huge financial hit. It’s also never a good look when you have the reputation as the photographer who fucks models-and models talk.
            Besides the fact that you’ll be standing there looking dumb and not getting paid, banging the models is also a huge risk to your reputation and livelihood.  Bad news travels much faster than good news-and lurks around a lot longer. Google popular New York Photographer Lloyd Parks and see what comes up. He was recently arrested on rape charges and was awaiting trial in the Bronx section of New York. On February 3rd, he was arrested on 3 counts of 3rd degree rape from a model-who claimed she had forced sex with him. Indulging with a model resulted in a brief stay at a Riker’s Island Jail. Do I think Lloyd raped that model? No. I’ve met him and know about his work in Black Men Digital Magazine. I highly doubt that a successful photographer would risk his empire over some model pussy. However, it’s likely that he did sleep with that model. Who likely initiated it? Doesn’t matter. At the end of the day, a photographer could attempt to bring things back to business as usual and the model will be staring at your invoice…and thinking, what the hell is this?
            Contrary to how TV misleads the masses, most “models” aren’t making lots of money and some are in fact just opportunists with inconsistent income. If they see an opening to make a false or true allegation against a photographer who gives off the perception of immense financial success-be sure that they’ll take it. The model (whom I don’t know personally) alleged that Lloyd locked his 7-year-old son in one room, while he raped her in another. A harsh lesson learned? Or false allegation? Only God truly knows, but I strongly believe in avoiding opportunities for it. In addition to keeping model relations strictly business, I keep my female makeup artist present during shoots and my studio has video surveillance. I’ve worked too hard to have someone ruin it.
           Many have made requests to get hooked up with a model, but my suggestion is to first appreciate the attractive, educated sistas with conventional jobs and stable futures. I always tell them that dating should be less about matching outward circumstances, and more about meeting your inner necessity. That’s not to say that looks don’t count-you just can’t have looks be the basis of your attraction to another. Looks, much like a model’s career, won’t last forever if you don’t have other things to bring to the table. When people ask why I’ve never secretly indulged, I remind them that the caliber of woman I date has so much more to offer…besides sex. And there’s no guarantee that sex with a model is better! (laughing) If you’re self-consumed in your everyday life, it likely transfers over to the bedroom as well. Selfish is selfish. We as photographers also see people for who they truly are. We see the model prior to the shoot-before the professional makeup artist gets to them, before the fashion designers and stylists drape them in exclusive garments and accessories. And we see them before the photoshopping, airbrushing, tanning and weaving. Such is life. You hafta channel that ability to weed through the bullshit and see people at their core. If you’re a male interested in a model, there are things that you must know…otherwise you will find that it’s not the fairytale fantasy that you think:
            Although not applicable for everyone, Models can be arrogant and can brush off secret admirers quickly and often (I see it all the time). In many cases the best approach is no approach. You get more attention from them when you come off as uninterested and coy. Very attractive woman means lots of competition. Although it’s always best to be yourself, interest levels of highly sought-after women is best maintained by playing distant. That fact alone should tell you everything you need to know about what you may be in store for. All models are not the dumb entities stereotyped on television. Some are extremely intelligent, with advanced degrees. Be intelligent. An intelligent conversation can impress or expose a model, and give you a better feel of what you’re working with.
            It’s also important to not just speak intelligently, but use common sense as well. High fashion models, as opposed to urban models must maintain a specific figure and weight. Planning dates around food can blow up in your face. A lavish date at an expensive Brazilian Steakhouse may leave you frustrated (and broke) when you’re sitting across from a model-who orders just an appetizer, or orders a full meal, but doesn’t eat it. It happens. If you don’t like to plan lavish dates or are unwilling, you may find yourself on the end of a reality check. Many models are used to a high standard; don’t think you’ll be getting away with Chili’s for long. Models are often in the company of people in the fashion industry. People in that industry tend to have money. That means designers, photographers, lawyers, execs, and businessmen. Dating a model is not for the insecure man.
            At the end of the day, all people have good and bad traits. Dealing with someone exceptionally beautiful on the outside can come with it’s own unique drama, whether male or female. Make sure that whatever issues are there, are issues that you don’t have to convince yourself don’t exist. Every time you date someone-male or female-with an issue that you have to work to ignore, Guess What? You are settling. I read a facebook status from someone the other day that pretty much summed it all up. It said:
An attractive dude (or female) who lacks fundamental insight and/or ambition might as well be physically unattractive…’Cuz there ain’t shit sexy about a clueless muthafucka who has no intention on getting a clue. Thank you, Holta for that great quote…

…These Are The Random Thoughts Of Ronald Gray…