How to Spot Photoshoot Scams
It’s disheartening to constantly hear about rogue or scam photoshoots which promise plenty and deliver very little except an empty wallet and much wounded pride. Here are our top tips to avoid being reeled in by these unscrupulous individuals and companies.
There is no ‘quick’ or ‘easy way’ into our industry. Performers succeed by dint of training, hard work and hard won experience.
Companies or individuals claiming to make you famous or get you instant work in exchange for an upfront fee should never be trusted. ‘No experience necessary’ is also a big clue! Please be extremely careful where a photoshoot also includes an offer of representation or promotion beyond the shoot. Ensure you understand the regulations around entertainment and model agents, fees for fashion and photographic models and fees for performers and workers.
Most are sites that are around for a while then disappear and will often reappear later under another name. They very often pop up on social media. Checking professional methods of communication is also a good start, many people are contacted directly via social media where the conversation stays or is then moved to text/WhatsApp without even seeing a website or email.
Remember it’s very easy to create a slick, professional looking website. You may even see fake reviews on some websites and some review sites - do not let the website distract you from undertaking detailed research on a company. Social media links may also prove useful if you track any comments.
Doing your research is key - google the name of the company and read everything to see if concerns have been raised. They may also have bad reviews on web forums too.
They will often make you feel special, using hopeful language and gaslighting behaviour such as:
- If we think we can work with you…
- Find out if you have what it takes...
- You may be offered the opportunity to attend a photoshoot if...
- If the shoot goes well…
Check any venue or office they ask you to attend. Many set up temporary sites and for the shoot hire or rent office/studio space at a range of venues. Many will ask you to come along by yourself without a guardian or friend. Beware of the venue you may be asked to attend. Make sure you know the venue is safe and being professionally managed.
If you have doubts, or even if it just makes you more comfortable, you should always ask to take someone with you. If you're under 18, always have an adult with you. Be sure to get a full address and contact number, and let someone know where you're going - if they aren't forthcoming with information, take that as a sign!
Very often the initial on the day experience may feel fine, but beware of upselling. They may try to reel you in with a ‘good deal’, become very salesy (moving the conversation along really quickly etc, rushing you), inflate the initial agreed price, or pressure you to sign ‘contracts’.
Don’t trust everything you are told
If you hear Spotlight’s name used in any form of sales pitch or ‘endorsement’, please be aware of the following:
- There is no such thing as a Spotlight endorsed/approved photo shoot. You can find lots of helpful advice about photography for Spotlight here or check out professional photography organisations such as the Association of Professional Headshot Photographers or The Association of Photographers who will have their own professional codes of conduct.
- You can also see a comprehensive list of Photographers in our Contacts publication. Please remember that Spotlight does not endorse any of the listings, so although a good starting point, you should always do further research of your own.
- No company can claim that if you pay them for photography, or to join them, this will guarantee your entry into Spotlight. Every Spotlight membership application is vetted individually, see our joining criteria here.
- Agents must apply to register on Spotlight. And to find out more about finding and signing with an agent read our helpful article here. If you have any questions let us know by emailing [email protected]
If you need further help the following organisations/links may be of use
- Equity Models Network
- British Fashion Model Agents Association - avoiding frauds and scams
- Find your local Trading Standards office
And remember if it seems too good to be true that’s because it is.
Find out more about professional training, starting out in the industry and making your own work as well as a whole host of podcasts and videos.
This page is frequently updated - if you know of any useful tips/organisations then please get in touch on ques[email protected]
Main Photo by Matthias Blonski on Unsplash