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Two fashion photographers are being accused of sexual misconduct

Photographers Marcus Hyde and Timur Emek are the latest to be accused of sexual harassment and assault by a number of models

The #MeToo movement may have brought down Bruce Weber and Mario Testino, but for the most part, fashion made it out unscathed. Over the last few days, though, two further photographers have been hit with a series of allegations: Marcus Hyde and Timur Emek.

They might not be household names, but both boasted significant influence in their own ways. Hyde had over 1m Instagram followers (according to Buzzfeed, his profile has been disabled by Instagram) and had worked with Ariana Grande and Kim Kardashian, shooting lo-fi polaroids of her and her family, as well as jobs including behind the scenes shots of the Kardashian family’s Calvin Klein Jeans campaign. With over 200k followers, Emek, meanwhile, boasted clients like Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar and has shot with high profile Victoria’s Secret models including Joan Smalls and Alessandra Ambrosio.

The claims against Hyde began on Monday, when model and interior design student Sunnaya Nash posted a series of direct messages between herself and the photographer. She responded to a call-out on his Instagram story for models, and in return, he asked her for nude photographs. If she didn’t comply, he said a shoot with him would cost her $2000. “Gotta see if your (sic) worth it,” he said, before adding he would just “keep shooting celebs” if she denied his request.

 “When I first posted it, I was very hesitant. I almost didn't post it but then I just got tired of the way he was speaking to me,” Nash tells Dazed, speaking over the phone from LA. “I really only expected my friends to respond to it. I did not expect it to get as big as it did.” Big is an understatement – not long after Nash posted the story, her screenshots were reposted on fashion watchdog Instagram account Diet Prada to its 1.5m followers. From there, things escalated.

Following Diet Prada’s repost, more women came forward to share similar experiences with the photographer, with some claiming he had sexually assaulted and, in six cases, raped them during photoshoots. “We knew it would get a lot of people talking as Marcus has a close connection to the Kardashian family, but we didn't expect that it would enable so many more women to come out with their own stories about him,” Diet Prada tells Dazed. “We started getting more messages about him, then the stories turned darker and darker.”

“It's really shocking to me,” Nash adds. “I think a lot of people who have had bad experiences with him, models in particular, are afraid to speak out. If they do speak out and tell their agencies, a lot of agencies just sweep it under the rug and say well that's just the industry. They don't take it seriously. We need to encourage women to speak up and share their stories. There needs to be a consistent account of these photographers who have been behaving inappropriately.”

Within days of the news surrounding Hyde, Diet Prada posted another roundup of screenshots – this time with stories about photographer Timur Emek. Art director and production designer Haley Bowman was the first to share her experience with the Turkish photographer, who is based in New York, in an Instagram post. She claimed that when she was 19 years old, he pulled down her top during a photoshoot, and then forcibly and repeatedly placed her hand on his erection. Her account has since been removed for “not following Instagram’s terms”. 

“I’ve experienced guilt for years because I knew he had done it before – due to how blasé he was during the assault – and absolutely was going to do it again,” Bowman tells Dazed. “I just didn’t have the platform or resources to reach accounts like @diet_prada until recently.“

“We didn’t expect that it would enable so many more women to come out with their own stories about him. We started getting more messages about him, then the stories turned darker and darker” – Diet Prada

Since Diet Prada’s posts, other women have come forward with their own accounts of similar situations with Emek, requesting nude images like Hyde, and often offering to fly women to photoshoots and put them up in his apartment – in exchange for some ‘fun’. Further messages also detailed allegations of assault and rape.

“I didn’t 100 per cent know other women had similar experiences, only because I hadn’t met anyone else yet, but I knew... I mean, why would he only do that to me?” explains Bowman. “For fuck’s sake, I wasn’t even trying to be a model, so I would just imagine all of the aspiring models more desperate than I was for photos, who were more scared to make ripples in the industry, and what he was doing to them probably at that very moment. A lot of the stories that are being sent to me as we speak are worse than my own. Far worse.”

“The danger with these predatory men is that their behaviour is pervasive beyond just the modelling industry,” continues Diet Prada. “Their victims can literally be anyone on Instagram they deem suitable as prey. It's not even restricted by location, as we've seen with Timur offering to fly girls out for supposed photoshoots. Some of these girls he and Marcus have preyed on were not even models at the time, nor did some aspire to be. They take advantage of those they see as weak... whether they're aspiring models, influencers, or just someone who wants nice pictures taken for their feed.”

Power through celebrity status can often be used as a form of intimidation, and in this case, it’s no different. “A lot of women are just really afraid to speak out because they feel like people won't believe them,” says Nash. “Also, when you see these photographers working with big celebrities, you don't expect them to be a threat.” 

Since the outpouring of allegations, frequent collaborators of Hyde, including Grande and Kardashian West, have taken to Instagram to condemn inappropriate behaviour he has been accused of. While Grande urged people to “look out for one another” and “not shoot with photographers who make you feel uncomfortable”, West wrote, “we cannot allow this type of behaviour to go unnoticed and I applaud those who speak out”.

 At the end of February last year, model meme account @shitmodelmgmt published a blacklist with almost 500 photographers, stylists, designers and agents who have been accused of inappropriate behaviour, assault, and/or harassment. At the time of publication, the anonymous admin received a series of death threats and took the list down shortly after. However, in the wake of these current allegations, the list is now back on Tumblr. Both photographers are included, each with an asterisk next to their names – this symbolises that they were reported more than three separate times. 

If it’s been almost a year and a half since they were first outed on the original blacklist, the question remains why it’s taken this amount of time for these men to come under scrutiny. “Fashion, in general, seems to move on quickly,” offers Diet Prada. “I think it was easy for the public to be content with some of fashion's biggest names like Mario Testino and Bruce Weber being exposed and hope that they were made examples of, but the reality is that it's an industry based on surface value and people want to keep ignoring the ugly side. Historically, it's also revered and protected male creatives (the taste and image-makers) as much as it tries to celebrate women. This has definitely been shifting and we hope it continues to move forward in a big way.”

“I think a lot of people who have had bad experiences with him, models in particular, are afraid to speak out. If they do speak out and tell their agencies, a lot of agencies just sweep it under the rug” – Sunnaya Nash

As with #MeToo, one thing the latest wave of allegations has confirmed is that a single voice is powerful enough to trigger an avalanche of people speaking out. It also highlights that while last year saw several figures in fashion be held accountable for their actions, the industry as a whole still has a long way to go to ensure the safety and protection of all. 

Models who feel they have been the subject of unwanted sexual attention can contact the Model Alliance, while we would encourage anyone who has been affected by these issues to contact RAINN (US), by calling 800.656.HOPE (4673) or using their online chat service and Rape Crisis (UK) by calling 0808 802 9999 or visiting one of their centres. 

Dazed has reached out to Emek by the email listed on his website, with no response. Hyde’s social media profiles have been removed, and he has no contact details listed publicly. Dazed will update this article accordingly with comment.