Preen, pose, pay

Preen, pose, pay
A photographer taking pictures of a model in lingerie. The average age of amateur models used to be 17 or 18 years old, but now teens as young as 14 and 15 are getting involved- and taken advantage of.

SINGAPORE - She preens and poses in a bikini at a budget hotel as a photographer clicks away, guiding her towards seductive poses, sometimes touching her to adjust her clothes.

She is just 14 years old, but for that one hour of her time, she may get paid anywhere between $30 and $500.

This is an increasingly common scenario as more young girls do paid-shoot modelling, a small but growing industry which sees girls getting paid to be photographed by hobbyists.

But a darker side to this trend is emerging as the girls get younger - and more vulnerable - and find themselves paying a higher price than the few dollars they receive.

Sometimes, these teens get molested, or face lewd suggestions from photographers, according to industry professionals who are increasingly hearing of such cases.

Typically, amateur photographers claiming an interest in building up their portfolio offer to pay the girls for their shoots, approaching them through social media.

The average age used to be 17 or 18 years old, but now teens as young as 14 and 15 are getting involved, said Mr Brian Seah who started the Photographic Society of Singapore page on Facebook, which has over 7,000 members.

"They usually just want the money for shopping. They want to buy new shoes, clothes, bags, and it's easy money," he said.

Dr Carol Balhetchet, director of youth services at the Singapore Children's Society, said that these teens are attracted to the fast cash, and being glorified as models.

"They may feel that someone thinks that they are sexy, beautiful," she said.

But the unregulated photography industry here, which Mr Seah said has grown "exponentially", has given rise to hobbyists who prey on these girls.

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