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December 25, 2006
Of Free Gifts With Strings Attached.
free model consultants and TFP photography really worth it? What is presented
as free may not turn out to be.
is Christmas, and as a professional fashion model I have a lot to be thankful
for. I am thankful for the few honest agencies who refer me to jobs, and
I am even more thankful that I am a smart model who thinks for herself,
takes the initiative, and books work without agency representation, too.
I am also thankful that no Hurricanes threatened my Clearwater Beach condo
in 2006, as I really like it here, the view of the Gulf of Mexico is stunning,
and I never want to move. The Tampa Bay Modeling web site likes it here
at home, as well. An absence of Hurricanes is the best present that I
could have had this year, and the weather has been quite excellent in
Since New Years and 2007 is only a week away, I'm also taking time to
reflect on the Tampa Bay modeling industry in 2006 and some rather interesting,
as well as disturbing, developments. Model job scams, which have been
the most common model scam the past five years, have finally been surpassed
by a new kind of model scam. This scam is the model consultation scam,
and it is the new threat to aspiring new models in 2007.
As I open the gifts from under our tree, I have to think. I think about
analogies and the ironies behind them. Which gifts are really free for
me? I know my fiancé and I trust him; trust, after all, is the
foundation of any personal, or professional, relationship. Trust cannot
be given and must be earned, and the first step toward trust is to get
to know exactly who you are dealing with and what their true intentions
are (As our friends over at Independent Modeling say, "Clarify and
Verify" - Clarify what their intentions are and Verify their professional
references so you know who they are who they say that are). I know all
the other people in my life who give me gifts, too. I know that my presents
don't have strings attached, and they won't lead to some sale or bill
either immediately or somewhere down the line. What is presented as free
is actually free, and is not at all misleading in any way, especially
since I know and trust the sources. Well, at least they don't have strings
now. I take the time to carefully study how the present is wrapped and
methodically take the ribbons, or strings, off first before opening it.
Did you know that you can get paper cuts from the ribbons and wrapping
if you tear into them too fast? While hand models should take heed, it
is an analogy which all models should learn from. Any time that you rush
into anything without checking it out first, you're being reckless, and
there is a high risk of getting hurt from your impatience and ignorance.
You get the analogy. I am sure of it. Anyhow, it is now time for me to
get to the main subjects as we explore not one, but two of the greatest
threats to aspiring new models in 2007. These threats could also be a
concern for professional models, too, if they don't know what to watch
out for. Rest assured the Tampa Bay Modeling and our allies will be fighting
these scams with all of our resources in the coming months and years.
While modeling resource sites like Tampa Bay Modeling and Independent
Modeling have done great things such as teach models how to book model
jobs without agencies and how to recognize and avoid models scams, the
free information on the sites has actually helped some scams. We've seen
many different model scams evolve as they tried to compensate for the
models who knew what they were doing, and we've even seen a new kind of
model scam, the model consultation scam, feed off of free modeling resource
sites and become a threat. Many of the so-called model consultants emerged
from the ashes of photo mill agencies who were shut down by the authorities,
sued by models, or quit using an agency license to bait models while they
were ahead. Bogus model management operations and model consulting firms
used to be far less common than they are now, and model job scams used
to be the main threat. Because of all of the excellent free information,
model career tools, and posts on model job boards, however, these operations
now have an endless source of material that they can steal and then try
to sell back to models, boosting their credibility and giving them ammunition
in their scams. While sites like Independent Modeling and Tampa Bay Modeling
realize that much of our material is being stolen and resold to models,
we have studied the problem and have come up with solutions. Instead of
restricting our information, model job tools, and model job information,
we are going to increase what we offer and make sure that models know
about it. Some of you might be wondering if this will only serve to help
the model consultants and their scams. It won't. Why is that? Simply because
we are the source, and it is too much of a good thing. We can drop the
bottom of market that there is for selling stolen content because we will
flood the market with better content and much more of it. This will make
it less valuable as something to sell. Additionally, with the market flooded,
there is a higher risk that the models going to these model consultants
will already know the true source of the material that they are pitching.
It will become far too risky to sell stolen material to models because
it could backfire, undermining their credibility as the models realize
that if the model consultant is ripping off free modeling resource sites,
then they lack professional integrity and will rip them off, too. Besides,
why pay for something that is plentiful, better, and available for free
on web sites? This is a great solution.
Model consultants and managers cannot make money by booking models into
jobs because they have to have an agency license, at least in Florida,
to do that. What they will do is tell models that they can help their
careers and that they will refer them to model jobs for free. Don't believe
it. No professional business is going to call up businesses who are looking
for models when they cannot make money from the referral. Instead, these
"free referrals" that they to offer, if they exist at all, have
nothing to do with them, and were instead quickly gleaned from free modeling
web site job boards and other free online sources, or simply made up.
No one is in business to work for free. Don't ever forget that.
What model consultation scams do is hold modeling information and model
job leads as an incentive to get the model to work with them (exactly
like a photo mill agency, except with reduced risk to the scam because
they are not an agency). The models are baited by the possibility of obtaining
job leads and are then sold expensive model portfolio photography services,
composite cards, and other things that they don't need if they are already
an established professional model looking to book jobs.
Some model consultants will make the claim that if you are already a professional
model and have a portfolio and composite cards, then they will refer you
to the jobs anyway and you won't need to invest in portfolio photographs
and composite cards. Don't believe that, either. If that was true, then
how would they make money and stay in business? Even if you are an experienced
professional model with a proven portfolio and composite cards, it won't
be good enough for them. They will nitpick the portfolio and claim that
they cannot refer models to "their job contacts" unless they
know that the model is a good model and that they can do the job. They
will dismiss your portfolio and composites, regardless of how good they
are, and try to sell you services that don't need anyway. They don't really
want to help models, as they are really only after your money.
Don't believe me? Why don't you go ahead and buy what they are selling.
Compare the jobs that they offer you with jobs that are up on sites such
as Independent Modeling and Florida Models. Better yet, see if there really
are any jobs. I'll bet that you will find that the job leads that they
had are now mysteriously booked and that there are no more that are "right"
for you. Compare your new portfolio with your old one. Notice how they
treat you after you have paid for useless services? They have already
moved on to their next victims and now, since they already have your money,
they will no longer give you any of the promised support because that
is not how they make their money. You've been taken in, and they are already
done with you.
There is no more incentive to spend time with you and to refer you to
jobs if there is no other way to make money off of you.
Experienced professional models with established portfolios and composite
cards who are looking for the jobs that these consultants offer don't
need what they are selling. An aspiring model with no portfolio needs
to invest in quality professional tools and have no business trying to
book model jobs. See the issues here? The model consultants use model
jobs as bait to sell services to models, when realistically the only models
who qualify for the jobs don't need what they are selling.
With these kind of risks associated with so-called model consultants and
model managers, why even bother? There is better information and career
tools available at no charge on modeling resource sites like Tampa Bay
Modeling and Independent Modeling, and there is no risk involved to use
these sites. Be safe. Don't take risks when there is not need to.
Speaking of risks, we also have another group going around offering models
TFP, which stands for "Time For Prints", is a practice in which
professional photographers offer free photography services to models.
TFCD, which means "Time For CD", is the exact same thing, except
that the model receives their pictures on a CD-ROM instead of prints.
Hell, sign me up. Can I go to a store and get free clothes because the
business needs practice selling clothes and the clothing manufactures
need practice perfecting their clothes? Nothing that is good comes free
Let me tell you this much. Professional photographers are in a business,
and they are in business to make money. If they are not, then they either
don't know anything about business and won't be any help to you (or to
themselves, for that matter), have some other form of payment or benefit
in mind that may not be in your best interest, or they could be amateurs
posing as professionals as well as the other reasons. You truly get what
you pay for, and if any offer is too good to be true, it usually is.
As a professional model, I understand that careers require an investment
in professional tools. I'd much rather check out the professional portfolio
and the references of genuine professional photographers, know who I am
dealing with, and then PAY for what I need instead of messing with these
questionable TFP things. This way, I minimize my risks, save a lot of
time by not running around and scheduling "shoots" unnecessarily,
and am ensured that I will get the professional pictures and composite
cards that I need.
While most people think that getting things for free is great, there have
been a lot of bad things happening to models lately with TFP and the professional
models will avoid TFP offers, especially since anyone can now go to the
store, buy a cheap digital camera, declare themselves a professional photographer,
and go around offering TFP in order to meet pretty girls. Models do not
need amateur photographers who are not honest about their experience and
qualifications and we do not need guys with cameras who are only doing
this as a hobby and/ or as a means to meet "hot girls" and to
try to get laid. We need professional photographers, dammit, and if you
actually need a portfolio, you're going to need to invest in one. You're
going to need to pay a professional photographer.
While established professionals sometimes do collaborate with other professionals,
I don't know of any professionals who will undermine their market and
offer free shoots to models who are not yet established and who need to
invest in portfolios, as this is just stupid and it is bad business. Most
of us get into business to make money, and if we are making money and
see other professionals who also make money and who we want to collaborate
with (i.e. photographers and models who already have portfolios and careers
and are not in the market for what we usually offer as a service), then
we consider it. Do realize, however, that this is not a common practice
and is the exception rather than the rule. If anyone offers me anything
for free, I am going to be rightfully suspicious of the offer, their professionalism,
and their motives. If you offer me anything for free, you better be who
you say you are and you better have all of your ducks in a row. Anyone
who offers free services should be scrutinized much more than normal because
of the potential for unethical motives and model scams. In one case, there
were more than one so- called professional photographers doing TFP shoots
with models and then selling the pictures and making money off of them
without paying the models. It gets worse. Many of these deals involve
shooting the models in "sexy" poses wearing casual clothes,
swimwear, bikinis, and lingerie and then selling the pictures to 900 dating
lines and advertisements for adult businesses. You have to wonder what
the catch is. If you DO take a risk and do TFP, make sure that you don't
sign any release which gives the photographer all of the rights to the
images. Models aren't in business to work for free, either, and if the
pictures are intended for sale to legitimate and non- adult business,
then we need to get paid, too. The porn/ 900 line/ adult stuff, however,
is unacceptable regardless of the pay, as it will cripple or destroy a
What is their motivation and how to they intend to benefit from the TFP
photography? This is a question that you must ask and get an answer on.
TFP used to mean "a collaboration between qualified professionals".
This is no longer the case. To most, it now means "build a professional
portfolio for free", which is not the way to get the professional
results that you need and it doesn't easily work. The term TFP has been
hijacked, and there is a lot of confusion over that. We intend to educate
people in the original meaning of the term and how professionals need
to invest in professional portfolios.
our gift to professional models this holiday season; the gift of good
advice with no strings attached. Merry Christmas, and we'll make you happy
when we see more of you all next year!
Danielle Cooper, Editor