MODELING PHOTOGRAPHY SCAMS
Models need to ask themselves
a question: Can they evaluate a photographer? With the number of aspiring
models that we see tricked by gimmicks such as fill flash, which is used
by the inexperienced photographer to cover up weaknesses in their skills
such as bad composition, we’d have to say no. Don’t get lured
in my gimmicks, and outright lies, from photographers who make themselves
out to be more experienced than they actually are! Be careful!
These types of model scams are so-called model photographers and other industry professionals lying, stealing, and cheating. We would like to let certain photographers know that it will catch up to you. So, what specific patterns have we seen with the photographer who lies, steals, and cheats? Let's explore those specific patterns.
1. THEY FAKE THEIR SKILL
It's photography, right? You would think that the pictures speak for themselves, and that you can weigh out their skill from looking at their pictures. Well, what used to be the case no longer is. It does not take talent or real skill for a photographer to learn basic lighting and basic camera skills, and then pawn them off as being better than they really are. How would this work? It's simple, really. A lot of people are inexperienced and THINK they are models and know what they are doing, and those are the ones that the inexperienced photographer will target. Yes, photography can be faked, and the indicator is the same kind of style and look evident in every picture taken. Is the lighting the same? How about the composition? Can the photographer shoot on location as well as they do in the studio? Believe it or not, some photographers hide their inexperience by shooting in studios, and they don't have the real skill necessary to shoot location, as location photography is much harder to fake. Another way that a photographer can fake their skill is to COPY THE COMPOSITION AND THE WORK OF ANOTHER PHOTOGRAPHER. It takes little talent to copy what has already been done, and it is unethical! To be inspired by the work of another is one thing, but to blatantly COPY that work is dishonest and unprofessional. Oh, and to the know-it-all "models" who have all the opinions in the world and have no clue what they are doing, POSING is not COMPOSITION, and they freely confuse the two. Posing is a part of composition. How does a model get around the fake "professional" photographer? Check their references and look for range in their portfolio! If they shoot nothing but glamour (nudes, sexy modeling, lingerie, fetish, etc) and little else, and market themselves as a model expert, then you are dealing with a fake who will harm your career as a model.
2. THEY LIE ABOUT THEIR EXPERIENCE AND REFERENCES
This one is good, too, and used to be a low risk tactic because models seldom checked references. Well, that is changing. This photographer comes along who has been in business for about a year, and yet they've worked with over a dozen major magazines and claim to work with celebrities. When asked about who they have worked with, they don't answer or change the subject, but by then it's already too late because their victim is already being conned by them. Incidentally, for all of their "experience", you would think that they would have tear sheets from the "national" magazines that they have worked with, or pictures of the celebrities that supposedly seek them out. They never do, but it doesn't keep naive, aspiring models for blindly believing them and falling into their trap. Another area of concern is down to references. They either trick other photographers into working with them, which gives their credibility a boost until the tricked photographers wise up and leave, or they NAME DROP the names of established photographers as references who either don't really know them or would never endorse them. How does this work? The naive model never bothers to check the references, and finds out AFTER they have been scammed. The bottom line is that models need to be professionally responsible and CHECK ALL REFERENCES. If they cannot back up what they say, then they are lying to you. If the photographers lie to you to convince you to work with them, what else are they doing which could hurt you? Independent Modeling has addressed this, and we now have a free tool for models to use to check references.
3. THEY STEAL FROM OTHER PHOTOGRAPHERS
We touched on this earlier. The scam photographer will copy the work of other photographers, but often will not stop there. The unethical photographer will SCAM OTHER PHOTOGRAPHERS in order to steal from them and gain an "advantage" in the market. We have heard of photographers setting up phony "associations", and then turn around and steal from their "photographer partners". What do they steal? They steal clients, E-Mail lists, models, trade secrets, techniques, pictures, and anything else that they can get a hold of. After all, it's not hard to steal from someone if they are accessible to you, and a photographer is VERY accessible if they work in the same studio with them! There are too many ramifications on model photography association scams to go into detail here without doubling or tripling the size of this section, so we will do an article about model photography association scams and post it HERE! You are who you associate with, and if there is a scam photographer in your "association", they will not only steal from you, but they will discredit you. An association is like a chain; it is only as strong or as credible as the weakest (i.e. least ethical) photographer. Make sure you trust the photographers that you work with! If you cannot trust them, do you really want to put yourself at risk by helping, endorsing, and defending them?
4. THEY STEAL FROM WEB SITES
Web sites are easy targets. The unethical model photographer loves the Internet, and will spend hours reading competitors web sites to steal information, design ideas, and content ranging from text down to the source code! We strongly recommend that model photographers offer rewards for people who find other model photographers using their things, and that they limit information available on their web site. Never put anything on the Internet that you don't want in the wrong hands. Do you think that they will stop at rival photography web sites? Think again! Everything is open season for these sleaze balls! There are even model photographer scammers who is trying to steal ideas and other things from this web site! They will steal anything that he can get, learn from this site, and then try to pass those ideas of as their own in their model management scam that they have going. To cover their tracks, they will warn so-called "models" that they work with with lies about us, and will tell them that we are a scam!
5. THEY SET UP MODEL MANAGEMENT SCAM SCHEMES
Where do you suppose that they learn the information that they twist around and try to sell to the models as their "management expertise"? There are model photography/ management scams who rip off the Independent Modeling the Tampa Bay Modeling sites and then tries to pass off the information as their own. In reality, they aren't qualified to manage anything! Go HERE for more about MODEL MANAGEMENT SCAMS.
6. THEY EXPLOIT "MODELS" AND MANIPULATE THEM
We are going to touch on this some more below, in MODEL CON SCAMS. Let's just say that when the photographer lies about their experience and their references to pass themselves off as an experienced professional model photographer in order to get a "model" to model nude, or do other stupid things, there's a problem. Once the so-called "model" starts to work with them, the photographer is able to con them and get them to believe anything. Imagine a situation where someone is violating the rights of another and benefiting at their expense, and the victim thanks them and helps them out. It has happened, and will continue to do so until people start to pay attention and CHECK REFERENCES before they work with them! Why is finding out about someone BEFORE you work with them so important? It's because once you start to work with them, you are forever associated with them AND give them access to you so they can manipulate you further. The risk is there, and the damage to the modeling career is irreversible! Prevention is far easier than getting out of a bad situation!
7. THEY BAD MOUTH AND TRY TO DISCREDIT INDUSTRY PROFESSIONALS
So, with all this going on with the unethical model photographer who lies, cheats, and steals, what about the real industry professionals who are smart enough to see through the scam and avoid them? Well, they are verbally attacked and bad mouthed to no end in an unprovoked smear campaign! It seems that the unethical model photographer is afraid of real competition and any perceived threat, and if they cannot manipulate and control others, they try to trash them. They will grasp at threads, and try to attack everything from the equipment that their competition is using to their integrity. We have seen model scam photographers, some of whom work together and work from the same studio, gang up on ethical professionals and attempt to attack their credibility. This, of course, tends to backfire. Models, feel free to check out this ANTI SCAM TOOL.
8. THEY FAKE THEIR TEAR SHEETS
might add the name of a well known company to their pictures as a "sample"
or "example". Unless it is real, they have shot the image for
the named company, and they have a SIGNED RELEASE from the company to
use the image, such "examples" are misleading and other issues
are raised, such as:
9. THEIR REAL REFERENCES LACK CREDIBILITY
afraid of Independent Modeling's Reference Validation ASA, will use real
references and try to make them look more important than they actually
are. Don't mistake a regional publication for national, also.
10. THEY NETWORK AND WORK TOGETHER WITH OTHERS TO SCAM MODELS
In the early stages of the photography association scam, the photographers who are ethical will wise up after the scamming photographer uses them or attempts to use them and they will leave. As time passes and more photographers are netted, some so-called "photographers" will stay and assist the scam. Like a cancer, the model photography association scam solidifies, and becomes one big scam with the mentality and professionalism of a mob. This a group form of the model scam enabler. Three types of photographers exist in such a group set up, and none of them are good for the career of the model. COMPOUND SCAMS like this are the most dangerous! Here are the types of photographers in such a networking scam.
The Naive Photographer - The worker bee, the naive photographer really has no clue what they are doing, and are the token pawns of the others. They don't know enough about the modeling industry to realize that they are working with unethical photographers, and such ignorance will only hurt the models who are polluted by them. More often than not, this weak photographer does poor quality work and overstates their experience. Of course, they will recommend the other photographers to the model, which helps the more serious scams with their credibility. The greatest danger with this type of photographer is that they often unknowingly assist the unethical photographers in the group with tricking models, photographers, and other professionals into working with them. In some cases, talented photographers and make up artists may be assisting the photographers, boosting their credibility and making their work look better to the untrained eye. See also MODEL SCAM ENABLERS.
The Sell Out Photographer - This photographer has figured out the other photographers are doing something wrong, but will still choose to work with them so they can get their leftovers. Greed motivates this kind of photographer, and they become unethical and compromise their values in order to make money, as they seldom know how to make it on their own. Obviously, such a corrupt form of cancer is not good for the model. See also MODEL SCAM ENABLERS.
The Con Artist Scammer Photographer - These are normally the leaders of the group, and they are full blown model scams. They manipulate the others into helping them with their scams, and often have the group gang up on threats to their operation. These model photography scams are the final destination for the tricked model, and of the others book the model, the leaders will get a piece of them, too, before it is over.
How does a model deal with a group of scam photographers who work together to gang up on them? How do models deal with photographers who scam them out of money and their professional integrity? While Tampa Bay Modeling is working on a new ASA tool to help combat unethical photography associations, the solution is simple. If the model is checking out a photographer who works with other photographers in the same studio, they need to check out the reputations and the references of the other photographers, too. If the photographer in question is working with unethical photographer, it is a very bad sign and the models should turn around and leave. Would you work with and assist unprofessional, unethical people? We didn't think so. You are who you associate with, and any organization is truly only as ethical as their least ethical member. Never forget this! For more on this, please see MODEL SCAM ENABLERS, which talks about associations which serve to boost the credibility of the model scam.
If a model has worked with every photographer who work out of the same studio with them, this is a warning sign and ALL of the photographers need to be checked out. A professional photographer would not normally share a client with every photographer that they work with . If one photographer has a bad reputation and is unethical, then the others are probably bad news, too. They might as well be the same photographer! Professional photographers who collaborate and associate with each other have limits and bounderies in place, the photographers keep their client lists confidential, and clients rarely work betwen all of them.
A chain or group is only as ethical as their weakest member, and if they share clients and business resources, they all condone and support what the others do. They know what the others do, too. Even if they deny it, you must look at their actions to discover the truth (If they deny it and they honestly do not know the truth, the model should avoid the photographer simply because the photographer is too much of an idiot to be professional or to be much use to the career of the model). They all must be accountable for the crimes of those who they support and help.
Scams listed here are not limited to models, and different types can be easily combined for new types of scams. If you cannot CLARIFY their intentions and VERIFY their references, go somewhere else to do business. It's professionally responsible to do so and lowers your risk. There are lots of great companies out there, like our advertisers and the companies in our resource sections, who are not scams. You owe it to your career to shop around and be selective.
MORE ABOUT SCAM
Model Exploitation Scams - Exploitation is not art, and it cripples the careers of models!
Teen Modeling Scams - When will a modeling job offer end a modeling career?
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