This case however, the harasser is someone that I feel did a lot positive for the community. If someone asked me about shooting with them, I’d have said go ahead. Yet as it turns out, this person was using their influence in the community to increase his personal porn collection: Promises of fame and money, allusions to everyone else doing it, and with time pressure.
It brings to light two problems to me - the dangers of more socially competent creepers, and the power of cosfame / Facebook's "like" button. Some people followed up saying that girls that got the messages and gave in should have just said no. And yes they should have, but he picked his prey well. People that are relatively new to the hobby who don't know how things usually go. He gave them reasonable-sounding explanations. Of course it would still be easy to say no if they weren't that interested in getting photos. It's like models giving into Terry Richardson for a shot at Vogue. People are measured by Likes and he'll get them Likes.
So how do we fix this? It's not practical to just ban everyone under 20 or 25 or something from the hobby. I think it will be another decade before people learn to be less obsessed with being a brand. So only idea I've come up with is maybe notable photographers and sites post some sort of basic guide / warning label. And this feels like a crappy solution, so I'd love to hear others.
How does this seem as a notice to new cosplayers that photographers can have on their sites (kinda sucks that there's no central resource like cosplay.com used to be anymore):
- If you’re ever required to do anything alone with someone (or even some group), it’s a red flag. You may be asked to do something one-on-one, but if you ask to bring a friend, the answer should always be yes. And if there’s a problem with that person being a boyfriend or brother or parent, stay away.
- No is always an acceptable answer. And so is “not now”. If it isn’t an answer they seem willing to accept, that’s also a red flag.
- Any photographer (or cosplayer or party host etc) should be willing to give references (if not, there’s another red flag). You may even be better off finding references yourself. Talk with those references, even if everything seems fine.
- If anyone even suggests you do something they won’t share, it’s a sign something is wrong. Even if it is something private, don’t agree to anything you wouldn’t be ok with others knowing about.
Or for photographers' own sites, a flipped version of that pledging all those things? But at the same time, would something like that encourage you to work with that photographer, or discourage you (since it may look like if they need to show they're not a creep, they must be a creep)?