One of the biggest concerns for aspiring models is the ever present danger of perverts, creeps, and those who would choose to do you harm. Here we dive a little bit into how to spot a fraud, and how to use the tools around you to keep yourself safe.
So you’ve got yourself a message from a photographer, and you want to know if he or she is legit. The following will help you out.
1. The first thing you want to take into account is their message. Does it sound professional? Do they call you “babe” or any other pet names? Did they give you a compliment that seemed sexual in nature? How about the spelling and grammar? Are they offering you a lot of money? Is the message an email? Have you ever heard of this photographer, or do you have mutual friends?
Pay close attention to their grammar and language skills. While not everyone can spell quite as well as others, it is still considered alarming if “Jim Smith from Ohio” can’t put together basic English sentences. If it doesn’t seem like the language they claim to speak is their actual native language, that’s a problem. If they are clearly Indian or German or Chinese in decent however, and their English is broken, it’s not really an indication of anything fishy. Another way language and grammar help you weed out the creeps is to help you know who is and isn’t a legit photographer. It’s true that anyone and learn to photograph, but photographing well requires a lot of skills and knowledge. Cameras are very tricky machines with complex and intricate settings for a variety of different situations. For many people, it takes years to perfect shooting on full manual mode. What this means is that a man or woman who has difficulty typing a professional and grammatically correct email to you may also fumble with the technical skills needed to photograph professionally. This could mean that they aren’t skilled, or don’t use professional equipment. In the industry we typically call these folks GWCs (Guys/Girls with cameras). These are people who use beginner market tools and take “snapshots”, usually of nothing but naked women. These photographers rarely ever progress in skill, and are in it simply to take photos of naked people.
If he or she calls you any pet names, that is a HUGE red flag. Hun is not considered a pet name, and many folks looking to be friendly use the word hun. But names like Babe, Cutie, Gorgeous, Sweetie, etc. are typically not okay. If he or she isn’t being professional from the beginning, it’s not likely that they’ll choose to be professional later. I’ve heard stories from friends after they asked a photographer (who called them pet names) for references and the photographer flipped out and started verbally attacking her. These things absolutely happen. If a photographer gets stern or pushy with you, do not work with them.
Remember how I asked if the message was an email? This is important because most scam messages come in email form, more so than facebook or other social media. Your email is easy to access and sell, so you’ll get more spam there. If you didn’t apply for anything and suddenly you have a message about a big runway show or a big job? It is 99.99999% likely to be a scam. You can help cut back on these emails by not having your email address listed publicly, or listing it as yourname [at] email.com. This makes it less likely to come up when someone looks up [aspiring model "@yahoo.com"] in google. If the email is a reply to an email you sent, then it should be fine. If it is out of nowhere? It’s certain to be a scam. If they offer you money before seeing your photos? They are trying to steal your money, do not reply.
2. Message seemed fine? The next thing to look at will be their portfolio. Click to see some of their work. What does it look like? Is it professional? Does it look fishy? Does all the work appear to be from the same artist? How about the quality? Can you find any watermarks? Do some photos have different watermarks, or watermarks that appear to say something other than the name the photographer uses? Some of the biggest red flags are;
- Portfolios containing nothing but nude snapshots. Some photographers only shoot nudes (and that’s fine), but if the photos all appear to be of super low quality, or have women in more pornographic positions, this is usually a red flag.
- Photos that appear to be from very different artists. Sometimes people will steal images to make a fake portfolio. If the images are all different sizes and styles, it may indicate stolen photos.
- If some of their photos have watermarks that are different from their name or different from watermarks on other photos, this can indicate stolen photos, and thus, a fake profile.
- The quality is very poor. If the photos are nothing but women in awkward poses staring blankly into the camera, with on camera flash and a curtain as a background;
3. Their portfolio looked alright? Awesome! Next we’ll check for references. It’s best to do this silently and without asking them, because they can always give you references of models they know already like them. Take a look through their portfolio and see who they have worked with. Look for comments from the models saying, “had a great shoot!” or what have you. Look for his or her public interactions with other people they have worked with. They should have a variety of photos with models tagged in them to make things easier. It’s unlikely that a model wouldn’t interact on photos of her unless she did not have a good time, or the photos are stolen. On modelmayhem.com, they have a lovely “verified credits” section where you can view people they have worked with. Although I will note that the verified credits are still someone new, and people who haven’t logged on in years haven’t updated to the new system, so a lot of photographers may have a lot of verified credits that are stuck in limbo, never being accepted. This happens, but it’s still useful to look at. You want to be able to find organic proof of his or her connection with their models and clients, and it shouldn’t be too hard to find if they are reputable. If all else fails, you can certainly ask for references. If anyone ever gets mad at you for asking, they are absolutely not a professional.
So, everything looked good? That’s the green light to reply, and see where it takes you! Good luck!
Read: How to Get Started in Modeling – Where to Begin