Modeling Agency and Photography Scams
I think it's about time I said a few things about the scams that so many people are worried about and talking about these days.
The truth is since the beginning of time beauty has been a very desirable commodity and there are people who will want to use you for your beauty, or capitalize on your potential.
They promise you the world and offer nothing while guaranteeing things you can't get anywhere else. Money, fame, jobs, tearsheets, union cards, television spots, work visas, and for a new model thats like waving cheese in front of a mouse. You could get a mouse to jump out a window and scammers could probably get some models to do the same thing.
Everyone agrees (except the scammers) that it is wrong to take advantage of people. The reason this gets so much press and publicity is because we feel especially emotional when it is a poor, innocent, beautiful young woman.
That being said, and everyone agrees it's all true and terrible, you really need to step back for a moment and consider the other side of this story. You owe it to yourself to not be fooled by twisted stories of scammers and their evil wrongdoings.
Is Vanity Fair?
Let me tell you vanity is a very strange thing. Sometimes beautiful girls are vain and sometimes really-really not beautiful girls are vain. If you are vain, regardless of whether you are beautiful or not, you can easily fall victim to a scammer who plays on your vanity. Vain people can never seem to see through a scam. or maybe they can, but they are so vain that they accept compliments and advances from a scammer even when they know they are being scammed.
No One Ever Talks About This!
Be honest ladies. Be honest with yourselves and others. If you have never done so go now and look in the mirror. If someone is telling you that you can be a supermodel and you don't see that in the mirror you must be a target of a scam. Don't continue your relationship with the person who is being dishonest with you. You are just letting yourself in for trouble. And the scammer is no more to blame than you are. Take some responsibility and be a smart professional.
Vanity is your enemy. Don't let it get the best of you. But if it does don't cry scam. Just say to yourself you are dumb. In fact tell everyone how dumb you are and don't even mention the scammer. If models were more well informed, less vain, and more professional there would be no one left to scam and the scammers would all go extinct.
Vanity is not fair but if you let it get the best of you then dont go crying about how you were scammed.
The real truth about paying money and getting assistance
I need to give you a little lecture on what modeling is all about. It is not about being pretty and getting discovered and someone will fly you to Los Angeles and make you a movie star and you will have $30,000,000 and a Ferrari.
For some people that happens but for every model who sees $30,000,000 and the Ferrari there are 30,000,000 girls who never make a buck and just keep getting scammed. You check the odds and decide how you want to live your life.
The model industry is a business like any other. As a business person you need to get a realistic grip on yourself, your goals, your skills, talents, abilities, and bank account.
If you are a pretty girl just starting out and you have never done anything in this industry before, probably the first thing you will hear about are the scams. Don't dwell on it. Most of the scam stories are written by people who didn't do their homework and don't even clearly understand what happened to them.
People are in business to make money. People make money from other people. People also need goods and services and they know they need to pay for those goods and services.
Do you have any idea how many girls have asked me if I will shoot them for free? Thousands! How many times have you gone into a supermarket and asked for free food?
Do you have any idea how many people have said that if you want to be a model you should never have to pay for your pictures? Have you ever heard someone tell you if there's a fee you should run? How about if I told you that you should get your your car fixed and if they try to charge you money you should post a story on the internet telling the whole world what a scam the auto mechanic is.
Can you see where this is going?
The part you don't really want to hear
Here's the part you probably don't want to hear; maybe it is time you put your money where your mouth is. Hire a pro photographer. Make up some photos. Blow them up to 9"X12" if you want to be a model or 8"X10" if you want to be an actress. Buy yourself a portfolio book and put your best pictures inside. Hire a web designer and let them build a site for you. Make up business cards, composite cards and head shots.
Don't even dream of stopping there. You're not close to being done yet.
Join a modeling school like John Casablancas, Enter a modeling competition or convention like IMTA, maybe even try your luck at Miss America, Miss World, Miss Universe or a smaller pageant. Try to get into some runway shows. Go to every casting, open call and audition you can. Call everyone. Visit every modeling agency. Email everyone. Go back to every modeling agency in town. Email everyone again. Do another photoshoot, re enter John Casablancas, make a second portfolio book. Mail your images to every photographer you can find. Send your pictures to Vogue, Marie Claire, Vanity Fair, and every magazine you would like to see yourself in.
Now do all that one more time.
If you haven't yet gotten any modeling work or a major agency contract (Ford, Elite, Wilhelmina, NeXt) then perhaps you never will. Or perhaps you should take acting classes and try other avenues. Perhaps you will never get modeling work or perhaps when your 57 years old you will be the next Oprah Winfrey.
I know it sounds like a lot of work. It's called obsession. It's what Oprah had and still has, it's what Madonna has, it's what Sarah Jessica Parker and Mariah Carey have. And it's what you need.
Starting out is not easy
If you have done all that and can't get modeling work you are lying to me. I believe that if everyone did all that they would all get some work. Maybe you will never be the next Kate Moss but certainly some work should come from it. I know because I did the same things when I started as a photographer.
My first big fashion spread came from walking blindly into a building on 7th Avenue in New York. I didn't have ten dollars in my pocket. I went to the top floor in the building. I got out of the elevator and walked into every single office handed out my card, flashed my book, and left behind a few free pictures. I went down a flight of stairs and did the same thing again. And then the next flight of stairs. I said to the people in the offices I don't know if you ever have need for a photographer but I would really love to work with you so here's my stuff please call me and it's been a pleasure meeting you. Finally I was back at the ground floor, tired - no exhausted, and I went home.
Guess what. The phone rang the next day. It was a major fashion designer who asked me if I can do a catalog. I said sure, of course I can. And you know what... I had my first big paid job. It was for many thousands of dollars.
AND IF THE PHONE DIDN'T RING I WOULD HAVE GONE TO ANOTHER BUILDING THE NEXT DAY AND DONE IT ALL AGAIN BECAUSE I AM THAT OBSESSED WITH MY WORK.
Dont cry scam. Do some work, spend some dough, and pick up the phone when it rings!
Now you are starting to get it.