As a model, you need to be aware that the economy has turned South for the general photography market. Part of this is that many people think that they are photographers because they have expensive cameras that make everyone’s images look great, and others who think extreme manipulation in Photoshop makes their images even better. But, that is for a different post. This one is about how photographers are changing their ways to make an extra dollar to put food on the table by taking advantage of models and people who have dreams of being world famous models. There are two things that are occurring that you need to be aware and proceed cautiously if you find yourself being approached by one of these photographers (or if they do both). The first is that several photographers are becoming model managers or agencies. The second, some are also creating magazines and publishing them. As with all of these photographers, there are some that are legitimate and others that aren’t. This means you need to do your own due dilligence to check them out and make your own decision on the legitimacy of either. If you are wanting to get ahead, often the photographer will use this to manipulate you for money or sexual actions. Beware. Loretta Kendall, a makeup artist, photographer, and previous model manager states the following about this occurring:
I am seeing a trend of photographers who have never been in the modeling industry or know little about it, try to open model manager agencies. Most of the photographers are hiding the fact they are managing models and using their photography as a ruse to hide it. The bad part is just because a person is a photographer doesn’t mean they have ever worked in the booking and/or modeling industry. There are photographers who have worked in the industry that I know who are great model managers. They have the experience to manage these models. But, those are few. The difference is they keep their photography business separated from the management side and don’t use it to build their photo business.
Let’s start with modeling agencies that are run by photographers. Almost every model wants to be represented by an agency. The problem here is that by being a photographer, they will use being in the agency as a way to manipulate you as a model. In checking them out, you need to make sure they are doing their job as a manager or agent. Check with others who are in the agency and being represented both if they are carrying out what they say they are and the type of work they are getting the models. You may also want to check with photographers who you work and make sure they aren’t being harassed by the so called “agency”. If you sign paperwork for an agency, many will require you to be exclusive with them. Joining an agency is a big step. You need to make sure that it is the right step for you if the main manager is a photographer. Ask yourself a few questions first. Are you being asked to do something you aren’t comfortable doing like doing nudes when you have said no? Are the jobs they are promising matching what others who are represented are getting? Are the jobs in the line of modeling that you want to do? Frequently, what you will get are mostly “promo” types of jobs or you are asked to do nudity for various clients or for submissions to magazines. As your manager or agent, they may tell you that you _have_ to do something you wouldn’t normally do as part of your modeling job and that everyone is doing it as models. If so, then you need to tread carefully. The clients are often porn sites and adult magazines, or similar companies. Also beware if the photographer is affiliated with the “agency” as they may be charging you for the photo sessions or hiding what they are really being paid from their clients. Another trick is that they are an exclusive photographer for that agency, and you will have to pay $1000 or more every six months for new photographs. Images taken from other photographers aren’t any good because they have to meet a specific standard that they alone can provide. I tell any model who hears this that any agency or manager who does this is a scam. The agency is being kept alive because of the money they are extracting from its models. Yet another trick that a photographer may play is “finding” models. As a matter of doing business as a photographer, I am constantly looking for new models to work. With some photographers, they “find” you as a model, and work with you once, and magically, you are one of their models. You probably don’t know this, but you may be told. When you work with other photographers, that one photographer then tries to shake down who ever you work explaining that you are one of their models, and that person needs to be paid for your work. Again, you may or may not know this is going on. Ultimately, you will find you never get your fair share of money that they collect and are billed more than you will ever make. Again, some of these agencies or managers are real and valid. But, if you are confronted, be sure to make sure you aren’t falling into one of these scams.
Yet another type of scheme you need to be aware is that of the magazine publisher and also a photographer. The photographer promises that you will be published in a magazine and get world wide recognition as a model. Frequently they will tell you that you have to wear little or nothing to be published. If you don’t normally do scantily clothed images, you need to pass on this type of work. It isn’t unusual for the images to appear on porn sites, dating sites, and similar types of media–not just the magazine they indicated. Another trick is that the photographer has a “testing fee” to see if you are able to do this type of work. Frequently, this fee is $1000 or more. As an editor, they shouldn’t be charging you any fees to model for them. That is why you have a book or portfolio. With this magazine publisher scheme, I have heard all kinds of promises that are made to the models from being an international model scout for a major agency to how they will get you a leg up and started in the modeling world. All of these are usually not true. Worse, if the magazine is so famous and popular, why are they not paying you to model in the magazine? It is true that most magazines don’t pay more than $200 for editorial work, they do pay you for your work. They will be making money from advertisers and selling the magazines.
There are two types of money makers that photographers have started because the economy has been really difficult for them: model management/agencies and magazine publishers. There are several tricks that are played on unsuspecting models who want to get in the industry and become famous. This may involve you doing more than you would normally do, paying money to them for services that shouldn’t be charged or that duplicate other services that you already do, and may even cause photographers who work with you being harassed for money. There are a few photographers who are legitimate, but most are not. If you find yourself in a situation with a photographer doing either of these, you need to take your time and evaluate if it is legitimate. Proceed with caution. Be sure to check them out and make sure you aren’t going to be taken advantage.
Edit: I was asked to attach this link for the Casting couch and other scams blog entry on here, as it is also something that models need to beware of in addition to these scams above. In some cases, they may be paired with these other scams.
All information and images are ©2012 Don Krajewski on this post.