3 years

Aperture

Confessions of a Bikini Photographer

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“If you dare to do what Poonam Pandey did, you can get 40 calendar shoots in a month, and earn a lot of money”

Bikini shoots mess up a girl’s self-esteem. I have been given check lists by lingerie companies and magazines that carry bikini shoots. They want women with big breasts and even bigger rear ends. Many girls go under the knife and get implants. I have seen some models develop serious body issues due to such shoots. They stop eating, and get obsessed with their bodies. It’s very unhealthy.

If you dare to bare, you will never get good work. It’s a Catch-22 situation. If you dare to do what Poonam Pandey did, you can get 40 calendar shoots in a month, and earn a lot of money. Pandey used to ask for Rs 30,000 a day. But look at her now. Nobody asks her to do good work. She has got slotted as a bikini girl. But if you wait for meaty projects where there is an opportunity to show your acting abilities, you may take years to even earn Rs 3,000 a day. The model has to make a conscious decision— does she want to make money or become an actress? It’s a messy situation.

Many models become escorts to make money. They have rents to pay and money to send home. It’s hard to make money in the beginning and most shoots are done free. But since they need to make cash, they decide it’s not a bad option to sleep with someone for money. But because of the few girls who do become escorts, most girls face the casting couch. If one does it, it’s expected of others as well.

The casting couch is the biggest reality of this industry. Aspiring models think that sleeping with a producer is a small price to pay for getting a movie contract. But most of the time, they are duped, as a person who says he is a producer may not really be. Many girls get branded as ‘easy’. There is no way to get out of this mess. If you say no to someone, you may just get blacklisted.

(This photographer has worked as a freelancer in the industry for the past six years)

As told to Aastha Atray Banan