Prime Collective Drops Photographer Following Sexual Harassment Allegations

Posted by on Thursday March 8, 2018 | Photojournalism

Prime's post on Medium.

Prime's post on Medium.

Prime, the cooperative photo agency, announced this week that it has dropped Christian Rodriguez from its roster in October 2017 after an unnamed female photographer reported he had tried to pressure her into posing nude. In an article posted March 7 on the website, members of the collective noted that they had voted to remove him in November; his work was taken off the collective’s website. Since then, other women shared similar complaints about Rodriguez. “To date, approximately 32 women have come forward to share their stories,” the article states. Prime states that some incidents occurred within recent weeks, others took place years ago.

The article went on to say, “While Prime is not an employer, we, as a collective of photographers who once uplifted Rodriguez and his work, regret that our association with him may have increased his perceived stature in the photo community, and contributed to his access to women in the industry. In light of these alarming new disclosures, we also now regret that we did not further publicize Rodriguez’s expulsion when it occurred.”

Rodriguez, who is based in Uruguay, has worked throughout Latin America and in Asia, and been published in The New York Times, The Guardian, The Washington Post, National Geographic and other publications. National Geographic published images from his “Teen Mom” project, on teen pregnancy in South America, in its February 2018 issue. According to bios he gave to the TED Talks and LensCulture, he “explores themes of gender and identity,” has taught several workshops, and has been exhibited in a number of photo festivals around the world.

In 2016, he won a Getty Images Instagram Grant. (His winning series was published on PDN’s Photo of the Day, along with the work of the other grant winners. PDN has now removed his images from the post.)

Among photographers who shared their stories about Rodriguez with Prime is Andrea Sarcos. She told PDN that she has sought professional advice from photographers. Rodriguez responded, met her, and at the meeting offered “to hire me as an assistant.” He suggested they would travel together on assignments, but he also said, “Tomorrow let’s do a photo shoot in a hotel,” and suggested she pose nude. “I was just so taken aback,” she says. “I was coming to him as a photographer, not a model.” She declined.

After she posted the incident on the closed Facebook page of a women’s journalism group, Sarcos was contacted by a member of Prime who promised “to take care of it.” Sarcos says she has been in touch with other women who have shared their stories, some of whom agreed to pose nude for Rodriguez in hotels. Sarcos noted that Rodriguez made “word for word” the same offers of an assisting job, travel, and said he needed help in creating “conceptual,” “intimate” photos. Sarcos allowed PDN to use her name in hopes of contacting other women harassed by Rodriguez.

She says she is glad Prime has now “outed him publicly” through the publication of its article. “It was making me sick seeing people still supporting him financially and publishing his work.”

Rodriguez has shut down his website.

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