I recently received an email in my inbox about an amazing opportunity that both flattered me but seemed almost too good to be true….
I saw your photography portfolio online and would like to learn more about your services. I’m looking for an experienced photographer to work with on an ongoing blogging and articles. I’m compiling shots for sharp magazine “fashion page” segment and the online fashion magazine is looking for professional and reliable photographers who want to create stunning images to feature on our website- sharpmagazine.com is particularly looking for outdoor and urban looks.
If you’re interested this project, it is important to understand few details about the project. These are:
1. You will be required to work with 2 models.
2. There will be 3 outfits per model, 5 looks for each outfit, which totals 30 looks/images.
3. Outfits/Wardrobe will be supplied by us.
4. Location, date, and time will be fixed by you.
5. We want 30 professionally taken pictures in High Res Digital Copies.
6. Delivery date: June 30th.
7. Compensation: $2000 ($500 upfront and $1500 final payment).
8. You will hold full image right (Licensor)
I replied stating that I would love to work with him on this project and to please send more info, and let me know a time we could get on the phone to chat about the details. This is what I got back:
Thanks for the reply and the interest to work with us on this project. Your works are really impressive and aesthetic; I would like to work with you on this gig. There are few details you need to know:
Wardrobe will be picked by our stylist based on urban trends for the season. The outfit will be shipped to you by the wardrobe stylist. We expect you to shoot in an urban gritty or/and natural outdoor look with clean product focused images; I’m attaching some pictures as samples.
You will have to do little retouching if pictures can be taken with natural lighting. Final images will be 300dpi or larger, mix of rectangular and verticals, to be delivered via file share. Images will on be used as an editorial content on sharpmagazine.com for 12 months.
An agency will provide a male and a female fashion model, makeup and hair stylists. I was just informed the budget for the project has changed a little; it’s now $4300 (photographer gets $2000 and $2300 for the talents). You will be paid $500 upfront plus the talents budget while your balance payment will be paid after sending us proof that the job has been done; usually watermarked images.
Photographers we hire usually take on the responsibilities of coordinating the shoot, selecting location, and disbursing fees. An advance payment of $2800 will be issued prior to the shoot; this covers your $500 upfront and fee for talents’ fee payable to their manager.
If you’re comfortable with the above, I’ll forward the contract and get your payment to you. When is the best time to chat about the shoot? I’m attaching some sample images; hope they help.
My first instinct was that it’s funny they wanted ME to disperse the funds to the talents coordinator, but then again, I’ve never done a commercial shoot, so maybe this is standard policy, so I said to send over the contract and let him know a good time to call, then I got this back….
The agency providing models, Hair stylist, and MUA is sync-talents and I will want you to discuss possible dates with the agent (Shane Walters) while I work on getting your advance budget; you can email Shane at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Your upfront fee has been authorized and on its way to you. Once you have it, you’re expected to go to the bank and deposit the check; cash should be made available asap.
The wardrobe stylist will have the clothings sent to you before the shoot date. Find attached is the mood board( I hope it help your creations) and contract (please review and sign it if you’re satisfied with the terms).
I need you to keep me posted, expect a text from me.
This started feeling fishy to me as no one still called me to discuss details, but a check showed up at my door the next day, no signature required, just on my doorstep. I did deposit it and then continued to try and get ahold of someone. They had started texting, asking me to make a cash deposit into a bank account and provided all the details for me to make the deposit. I asked if I could send an email transfer instead as that seemed more simple. They didn’t reply to that and kept asking for a copy of the payment slip to show the deposit was made into the account, and were very clear that it needed to happen ASAP so that they could “perfect preparations” for the shoot and line up the models etc.
I talked to some friends about it did a lot of googling and found 2 more articles from photographers that wrote about this here
, and that’s when I decided I was out. The next morning I texted Terry and said I couldn’t do the job as something came up. To this he replied “Okay Laura, Send the funds back to the Agency. I’ve discussed with Shane and they will contract a photographer they usually use for their gigs. We’ll contact you for our next season shoot. Have a great day.”
I also stopped by my bank and asked them to pull the check so I could see the address and examine it a little closer. They pulled it out and we all looked and realized it was a fake check, from a fake account, and the money had already bounced the night before.
I write this post to create awareness to other photographers in hopes we can help the community of professionals avoid this!
Later that day I got a text from Shane. “Hello Laura, Terry said you’ll be sending me the funds for the season gig. When are you making the deposit? I need to perfect preparations.”
I replied “I’m not sending anything as his fake check bounced. Go get a job. Have a great day.”
Nothing since. They’re onto their next “gig”!