010 - I started in elementary school, about 1974. I've been earning with my talent from the age of 19.
020 - While open to almost all paying assignments, most jobs are from women who wish to create a pin up or calendar for their someone special. These range from fully clothed to lingerie to nude photos. I have created portraits, posters, single and multi-page calendars, flip books and many other unique gifts. I also receive many requests from beginning models to assist with the creation of their portfolio. Fashion, glamour, swimsuit/intimate apparel, and figure work are all staples. I do not "create" portfolios. A portfolio should never be shot by a single studio. My recommendation to models just starting out is to gather a few good images and bring these to a reputable agency. The agency may have very different ideas from what the model or her photographer's have.
030 - I don't shoot entire portfolios. We can work together to create images for your portfolio, but you should never have a single photographer or studio put together your complete portfolio. This is easily recognizable, even if done by a top photographer. This would look more like you were trying to buy your way into the business. Instead, you should build your portfolio while working with different photographers, as well as when you are published. Your most important contribution to your portfolio is a tear sheet. This is a published page from a commercial venture with you on it from a magazine, newspaper, etc. to show your work. Don't confuse this with an online only blog (aka "digital magazine") where shady characters often tell you they can "get you on the cover."
040 - Yes, I may be able to assist a beginning model. While most of your chances are dependent upon factors outside of my control (your physical image, your ambition and attitude, your ability to travel), we can assist with some quality photography. Some models are accepted on a time for prints/trade (TFP) basis. This is also often referred to as testing. To inquire about TFP/trade, please send an email with your general description, stats, age, location (closest major city), and if available include a few images or a link to recent images such as Instagram. The best images would be a close up or head shot, and a full length shot. IF YOU ARE UNDER THE AGE OF 18 YOU MUST ASK A PARENT TO CONTACT ME FIRST. While most of my work is now in the Southern New England area, I often travel, but if you are outside of my area, I would recommend that you seek out other photographers first.
Whenever approached by an "agency," "manager" or "talent scout" that you have never heard of (which is usually the case, unless they are representing Elite, Ford, Click, or another major agency) it is always best to do a lot of research on them. "Group owners" and magazine publishers run another whole line themselves.
Agencies/scouts/etc. usually run somewhere along this continuum:
- Totally legit and established (Ford, Elite, Click, etc. There are LOTS of them).
- Legit and lesser known (usually agencies that have been around for a while, and just have a lower profile - usually more specialized).
- Legit newer agencies (their hearts and heads are in the right place, but they are just getting started).
- Semi-sketchy agencies (perhaps trying to be an agency, but just don't know how the industry works... usually will fail).
- Sketchy agencies (may be telling you they want you for one thing, but actually want you for another (tell you they do fashion, but they do mostly glamour or adult work)).
- Scams (agencies that attempt to get you to pay them something - entry fees, listing fees, insist that you work with their photographer, etc).
- Dirtbags (guys who represent themselves as agencies, scouts, managers, or group owners who are just looking to get into your pants and or wallet).
Group owners and magazine publishers usually run somewhere here:
- Legit and established (Low Rider, other physically printed publications).
- Publishing, but maybe lesser known (Street Low, City Vibe, online publications that have paid subscribers).
- Sketchy (wants to go with you to shoots, he will collect money for you. The industry calls them suitcase pimps).
- Scams and bullshitters (Playet, Bob's Model Hangout).
So, some things to do to find out where the people contacting you fit into the above list:
Ask a LOT of questions:
- Agencies in most states must be licensed (this is not true everywhere - check your applicable state laws, but Connecticut and California REQUIRE A LICENSE).
- Find out if they are licensed, and what their certificate or license # is. This can then be checked with the state they are registered in (usually at the Secretary of State's Office).
- Make sure they supply you with FULL contact information. Phone Numbers, Physical Address, email, web site. In today's age, just about every company has a website, and virtually everyone has an email address. Check the physical address on Google Maps, street view. If it's an address like this, I'd bet it's a scam: 123 Main Street, #462, Big City, Yourstate, 98765. If you check it on street view, it's likely a place like Mailbox Plus. That doesn't disqualify anyone, but it might be a red flag.
- How long have they been in business? Ask about their history.
- Ask them to send you their collateral. Legit agencies will have advertising, informational and marketing collateral, usually well-designed, printed or maybe as PDF. This may not always be the case in today's digital world.
- Check out their web site. Does it look well-designed and organized? Frequently updated? Or does it look cheesy and cheap... is it hosted on a free service like Wordpress or AOL? This can be very telling. You can also check out that website at www.dslreports.com/whois -- just because it says ModernModels.com doesn't mean it wasn't put up by John "wants to get into your pants" Doe.
- Who are their clients? Especially CURRENT clients. Get contact names and numbers for references - and follow up on them. If they just give you the names of the clients, but tell you they can't give you the contact info (for business reasons), ask them what department they do work for in that company, then find the phone #'s yourself and make a courteous, professional call to the company, asking about their relationship to the agency in question.
- Who are the models they are currently working with? If they claim to represent someone famous, it is easily verified (on the net or by a few phone calls) if they actually represent that personality.
- Ask them to have a couple of their current models to contact you. Then discuss with these models the type and frequency of work the agency has gotten for them... keep in mind that they will probably send you models that are at the the top of their list, or in the case of scams, shills from within the company. This isn't a very reliable method by itself, but added to your other research can give you a better feel about the "company" in question.
- Ask them (for magazine publishers) where you can get a copy of their magazine. Ask how long it has been published. Ask how many copies are printed and how many subscribers they have (even free magazines and newspapers have paid subscribers). If they tell you it is online only, check it out online. Be VERY careful of anyone that tells you that you need to download their "viewer" or other software to see the magazine. You might need to download/update an industry standard plugin like Java or Shockwave, but other than that the person is scamming you. There is a known scammer who wants people to download his magazine, but it's an .exe file - this is an executable program that can contain viruses, malware, ransomware, or worse, add software to possibly control your computer.
This list can go on and on, but the bottom line is that if you ask a lot of smart questions, you are much less likely to get burned. Also:
- Do your own independent research!
- Ask people in the industry if they have ever heard of them. Check with photographers in the area of the agency, post questions about them to places like ModelMayhem and other online forums and ask about their reputation.
- If it was a "talent scout" who says they represented a reputable agency (like Ford, Elite, etc.), make your next phone call to that office (look up the number, don't just take it from the card), and check to see if they actually work there. Anyone can have a business card printed.
- Ask other agencies about them. Perhaps you are too short or feel you are too inexperienced to work for Elite or a major agency, Don't be afraid to call a major agency near the one in question, and tell them "I would love to interview with you, but I am just getting started in the business, and have been approached by XYZ agency... can you tell me anything about them? Do they have a decent reputation / are they a dangerous scam?" Usually the agency will be helpful. And you never know, they may actually ask you to come in and interview with them!!
- Check their Better Business Bureau File: Go to http://www.bbb.org and look them up... it's very easy and FREE. Not all agencies will have a file. And this is not a definitive tool in finding out about a particularly agency. Do not assume anything is wrong if they do not have a file, or if they have one or two complaints... However, it can be very telling if you find out that they have a LOT of complaints against them.
- Look them up on the search engines: See if people have publicly posted complaints or warnings about them... just because they haven't, doesn't mean they are any more legit, However, if you find a lot of complaints, well... time for more investigation.
No single question here can answer the question: "is this agency/scout legit" but by doing your research, you can develop a profile on a company that should give you your answer. And always trust your instincts... If it "feels" wrong, well... there may be something to it.
The Bottom line: Do your research. Ask many questions. Then ask some more. If a company is legit, they will understand your caution and professionalism.
060 - TFP (Time for Prints) or trade work is accepted about once or twice a month. In more recent years there have been fewer and fewer prints. If we are exchanging time I will provide you copies via cloud service where you can download the files. Details are discussed prior to shooting, but you would receive a full set of all images that we shot. I use a release for all shoots, and the release is negotiable. I supply the release to prospective models at a pre-shoot meeting. You can view it here.
070 - Yes. I use PayPal, and you can purchase right from the Portfolio pages or contact me about others. Items and quantity are limited.
080 - No. I am not an agent, nor do I wish to be one. In many states the costs are great to get into that business, and if you are found to be working illegally, the fines and punishment can actually put you into jail. I will certainly try to promote you, but I don't answer email for you, have email for you come to me, or screen your inquiries. If we work together, you can certainly ask me questions any time - tomorrow or 15 years from now - regarding other people in the business. I will tell you what I know for fact, and then what I think for opinion.
090 - No. Only images that have been created by UCPhoto / Union City Photographics are being displayed (other than sharing an occasional meme or birthday card). There are many other sites available that will host your images and information. Carefully read the terms of service of whoever you post your images with. There are some that will try to claim usage rights because you posted the images. This doesn't go over too well with the copyright owners. Other sites are a bit lax when it comes to protecting the models. One lets a known scam place tons of forum messages, and when they get questioned, and warnings go up, the site pulls the entire list. I believe that the most reputable and well run site is Model Mayhem. Check them out. They offer a free account. Of course today you also have Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, and more.
100 - While some of these people may still be modeling, some of the contact information I have is old and may not be valid any more. You might find them on one of the major modeling sites, on Instagram, or they may have dropped off all the known pages. If they are still modeling and I know their current pages I usually post that with their images. If you can't find them and really want to work with them, let me know and if I have current contact info for them I will pass your info to them.
110 - You can reach me either by telephone or email. Call or text me at 510-240-2947. If I am not in, please leave a message with your name, number, best time to contact you, and if possible, a brief idea of why you're calling. My email address is UCPhotog@UCPhoto.net. You can also go over to my contact page for other various ways to reach me.
120 - Photography, video, graphic design, and some basic website construction. I am not an expert in any one of them.
Other questions? Let me know.