According to an online dictionary, "catfishing" is when a person assumes a false identity online to deceive, manipulate or swindle another person. In my role as an erotic photographer, I've been catfished many times in the last decade or so. As my reputation expands, it's happening more often and is becoming a real problem.
To be clear, people aren't trying to swindle me, they are seeking erotic interactive entertainment or validation. There are also some real people (women) who are for a brief moment serious about scheduling a shoot. I've addressed those near the end of this post.
As you can imagine, I get a lot of emails from potential clients. Roughly a third are legitimate inquiries and the rest I broadly label as catfishing attempts. I used to find this fascinating and would engage in long email conversations that never resulted in a booked photoshoot, but helped me gain a bit more understanding of human sexual fantasies. After engaging in hundreds of these email exchanges, I've learned how the game works and I'm sharing what I've learned so that fellow erotic photographers can benefit from my experience. If there are any internet psychologists out there who find this post, feel free to quote from it.
Of course it always starts with an email from someone who says they want to arrange a private photoshoot. I have to take all inquiries seriously at first, but I don't want to waste time on unproductive messaging. If it's a catfishing attempt, the conversation will usually go two different ways, depending on the assumed gender of the person. Each way follows a fairly predictable path and I've wondered if perhaps the same handful of people have been emailing me the same fantasies for all these years.
If it's a man, he first asks if I'd do an erotic photoshoot that includes him and his wife, but spending most of the time shooting his wife, who is very attractive. Often he will send nude photos of a woman who is supposed to be his wife. Sometimes the photos look like a real person and sometimes they look like they've been ripped from the net. Real clients rarely send photos without being asked, so that alone is a yellow flag, but at this point it's hard to tell if the person is a legitimate potential client or a catfisher, so I must respond to get to the next step.
At this point, a male catfisher will start hinting that he wants someone else to have sex with his wife while he watches, or at least gets to see the pix later. Sometimes they want me to provide a male porn star to service the wife, but often they want to know if I'm willing to perform. They never ask about practical things like STD tests. If I play along, their fantasy gets more and more elaborate, typically evolving into a gangbang scenario.
Female-presenting catfishers follow a path that goes like this: Sometimes they say they are an aspiring novice model and sometimes they say they are a successful single woman who wants sexy photos for their own enjoyment and empowerment. Unlike legitimate female clients, they don't seek sexy photos for online dating or self-promotion.
Early in the conversation, they briefly mention that they'd like some rather erotic photos in addition to the usual boudoir theme. As the email exchange goes on, they start adding more erotic and more complex elements. They want to know if one of the male models in my photos would be available to have sex with them. One of the most blatant red flags is that they ask if I get aroused while doing photoshoots and hint that it's OK if I do. In general, the female-presenting catfishers play a more sophisticated game and have more writing skill compared to the cruder efforts of the males. They are also more likely to offer me a lot of money.
Often they want to know if I will order them to assume naughty positions or engage in lascivious acts, which indicates submissive preferences. If I stay with the conversation long enough it usually morphs into a gangbang fantasy, sometimes with a very large number of men involved and an elaborate story line.
Since both the male and female-presenting paths go to roughly the same endpoint, I think there is a good chance that both groups are mostly male. Some just pretend to be female. I assume they are not happy with their sex life and like so many other people, they turned to the internet to build an easy fantasy world that pushes their erotic buttons. It's a lot less trouble than trying to build real life relationships. The apparent fact that so many catfishers are male is interesting. My thought is that we should not judge them too harshly. It's a very confusing time to be a man. I just wish they wouldn't waste so much of my time.
It gets old providing free services in this manner. Maybe I should monetize this by soliciting money for each hot fantasy message I respond to? Then I could hire someone to pretend to be me and that would complete the circle of deception! What a strange world we live in.
To be complete, I should mention that there are some real women who waste my time building a sexual fantasy around what it would feel like to be nude in front of my camera. They usually send nude selfies and insist that I comment on their bodies. Fishing for compliments, obviously. Eventually, they ask if I can provide someone to do naughty things to them. Some of these conversations are via text message, which makes it easy to impulsively send nude selfies to a stranger. Recently, women have started sending disappearing pictures to my phone. What will they think of next? LOL
These conversations with real women usually play out in a couple of hours and often alcohol is involved. Sometimes, they are sober, just horny and lonely. They vanish as rapidly as they appeared. It's sad in a way, because I'd be happy to do a private shoot for them with no risk of the pix escaping into the wild. I know that posing for a nude shoot can be a very erotic experience for many women. I encourage that in almost all my shoots that have an erotic theme.
That's all for now. I may add to this post later. I usually include some sexy photos in my blog posts and I briefly considered using some that have been sent to me by various catfishers. Perhaps I should create a gallery on my site? That might be something I will do in the future, but not right now.
Thanks for reading!
A sex-positive photographer serving your private photography needs.
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