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Agency Scams and Photographic Shams

Photography, like other "glamour" professions, seems to attract some of our less desirable citizens all too willing to take advantage of anyone who dares to dream of fame and fortune in the advertising or entertainment industry. The following will help you identify agencies more interested in your money than in getting you a legitimate assignment, and photographers more interested in associating and manipulating their subject than in making quality images for use by either.

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Agency Scams

A model agency is likely a scam if they require any of the following:

Legitimate modeling agencies are in business for profit, and they make their money by serving as an intermediary between models and clients. For this service, they get an appropriate fee, typically a percentage of the modeling fee. Thus, the more desirable the model, the higher fee they demand, and the more profit for the agency. In addition, the more working models they have available, the more they send on assignment, and the more profit they make. However, whether by a few, highly paid models or many, modestly paid models, all legitimate agencies are paid only if their models get work; furthermore the models do not pay the agency except as a percentage of their fee.

Agencies that demand upfront payment for photos, portfolios, listings, or membership fees are scams. Their income is from prospective models who are among hundreds of other dreamers who likely never see a legitimate client.

Respectable agencies don't get money from a model until the model gets work.

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Sham Photographers

A photographer is likely a sham if he/she:

Anyone with a camera can claim to be a photographer, and some use the camera and the "title" to gain access to the young and naive, especially young women. If you are approached by a photographer, enjoy the flattery, but maintain a healthy skepticism. Before you agree to go anywhere to be photographed, make sure you are comfortable with their character, their purpose, and their compensation.

Character. Persons of good character will be honest, responsible, and caring. They will never ask you to do anything in conflict with your ethics, and they will provide references that you will recognize as respectable.

Legitimate photographers will have a purpose; they will be clear about what they want from you and what you can expect from them.

Compensation. Unless you approach the photographer and request photographs, you should not have to pay for the photographic services. If their purpose is commercial, you should be paid for your services. If their purpose is for portfolio development, you may be asked to exchange modeling services for photographic services. See collaboration.

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