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April 24, 2006
we we grow up, we are taught the merits of the buddy system and how important
being safe is. If you go hiking, bring a friend. You could get bit by
a snake or fall of a cliff and break your leg. If you go swimming, keep
a friend handy. You could get eaten by a shark, ran over by a boat, or
you could simply forget how to swim and drown.
Modeling, like all of these activities, is not without its dangers. Sure,
we can provide you with the activity patterns of how a model
scam operates, teach you all the most common red flags to watch out
for, and give you the best tools to use to fight model scams. That’s
a great start, but is simply is not enough. We discover new kinds of scams
and con-spins on existing ones all of the time, and have even observed
some evil bastards out there who could con the smartest professionals
in the world. Simply put, there are some gifted con artists out there
who can con you no matter how prepared you are (ever hear that there is
always someone better somewhere? It’s true, and we hope that we
never go up against someone who can take us on- so far, in Florida, we
haven’t found anyone who can touch us- yet). In those situations
where you could be outmatched by an experienced criminal mind, it always
pays to bring a trusted friend with you to watch your back.
Case in point: Shady, evil, scum-sucking model photographers.
I don’t care what anyone in the industry says. That model and talent
agency may not have your best interests in mind and may be set up to simply
mislead models and make money by selling overpriced model portfolio photography
and low quality composite cards, but the number one complaint in the Tampa
Bay market lately have been model portfolio photographers.
Technology today is cheap. Too cheap. Too many losers out there steal
their mother’s social security money and trot down to their friendly
neighborhood electronics and camera stores and plop down a few hundred
on a digital camera. As soon as they slither out of the store, they spend
$25.00 on some cheapo business cards and begin to call themselves “professional
photographers”. Their investment into the profession? What some
of them might spend on dating services or strip clubs in a few weeks.
Their motivation? To meet and sleep with pretty girls. Some of these pathetic,
lonely men are too twisted to get girls the normal ways, and have to resort
to using model photography as a device to trick young, attractive women
into their beds.
There is a flip side, too. We’ve seen people spend LOTS of money
on high quality equipment in an attempt to become professional photographers.
Most of the people who go from zero photography to the bad ass’est
photography toys overnight are up to the same thing as their low-rent
counterparts. They don’t spend more than a few hours or days learning
how to shoot, and then employ their expensive gear as a means to boost
their credibility. We’ve seen these pathetic bastards lie about
their experience and steal from genuine professional photographers in
an attempt to trick aspiring and professional models into working with
them. They claim to have paying jobs for models (which never seem to happen)
and get overly bitchy and defensive whenever anyone tries to debate with
them, ask for references, or question their motives. Some have overblown
egos that have no grounds in reality and threaten anyone who stands up
to them. We've seen more than one photographer do it for the kick of trying
to manipulate and corrupt young, naive girls. These guys have a huge ago
about it and misrepresent their experience and quality of work to the
point of having arrogant attitudes. Their self-important behavior only
serves to compensate for gross insecurities and an overall lack of talent
and skill. This is only the start of what is wrong.
We’ve even seen some tell models that they are not allowed to bring
anyone with them to a shoot.
What ever could be their motivation? Hey baby, I want to get you naked
in front of my camera. How about some wine and dancing after the shoot,
eh? Eh? Let’s hang out- as you can see, I’m already hanging
out as I work, if you get what I mean. Heh heh.
See how pathetic and low this is? As a model, wouldn’t YOU be OFFENDED
by such blatant unprofessional behavior and DISRESPECT toward you as a
You do not have to compromise your professional integrity and your safety.
At all. So, you REALLY like their work and want- more than anything- to
work with them, even if you are forced to do things that you are not comfortable
doing? Listen to your gut instincts, baby. Maybe that awesome work of
theirs belongs to someone else- It happens more than you might think.
It is very easy for someone to steal the pictures of another photographer
and present the work as their own. We’ve seen some photographers
steal the work of others in an attempt to bait unsuspecting models with
the work that they supposedly did. See any inconsistencies in the quality
of their work or way too much of a range of style? Forget genius- it’s
probably some sleazeball lying about their work and misrepresenting themselves.
The models don’t find out that the photographers cannot back up
their claims until it is too late. Some models end up ripped off, hit
on, molested, raped, killed, or even worse. Even if you survive, what
do you think the chance are that you will have the desire to pursue a
modeling career if some photographer tricks you and forces himself onto
you? If you are alone, what’s to stop them from doing whatever they
want to you? Got mace, a stun gun, or a pistol? Forget it. Even if you
are properly trained in how to use it, what’s to stop the photographer
from taking it from you and using it against you? The best thing that
you can do is to be cautious and BRING ALONG A FRIEND (Of course, you
may be going too far if you insist on bringing along a competing photographer-
We do not suggest that you do that, as you would be out-of-line, it would
hardly be a professional thing to do, and it is a conflict of interest).
Don’t worry about offending or pissing off a photographer - if is
a reasonable request, they have no right to get pissed off at you, and
if they do, you really must pause, take a good look at them, check their
references, and question their motivation. Those who react defensively
are usually hiding something. Your safety is your responsibility, and
despite what the photographer may say or think, they are not the only
game in town. There are a lot of reputable, professional, skilled photographers
out there, and it is not hard to find them. There really is no excuse
to make any compromises.
If some “professional” photographer insists that you come
alone to a shoot, feel free to say “no”. Simply find another
photographer who will respect your rights as a professional model.
My hope as a professional model is that this opinion post saves at least
one model out there from a career or life-ending mistake. Don’t
trust anyone until they earn your trust and you know who the hell you
are dealing with, and even then, don’t ever let your guard down
and compromise your safety . Stay safe! By all means, work hard at your
career and have fun. Work with lots of model portfolio photographers.
Just never, ever go alone.
Danielle Cooper, Editor
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