Sunday, June 28, 2009


Monday, June 22, 2009

Internships are not an opportunity to find an unpaid workerforce

So as we have been seeing many people are offering what used to be paid positions to "interns." Sidestepping the ethical question, we can consider the legal question of unpaid internships.

Many of the newer people in the industry want to know about how to graduate to paying assisting work. The fact is if people do not report the full time 2-3 month "internships" that are illegal then the concept of paid assistants will go away forever. Already many jobs that were paying in the past are being done by unpaid "interns."

How do you know if the internship you see being offered is illegal?

This is a great website that is a resource for these questions. You can also report illegal internships to the Department of Labor.

Unpaid internships can be illegal in the United States if they don’t meet some of the following requirements from the Fair Labour Standards Act.

1. The training, even though it includes actual operations of the facilities of the employers, is similar to that which would be given in a vocational school.
2. The training is for the benefit of the student.
3. The student does not displace a regular employee, but works under the close observation of a regular employee or supervisor.
4. The employer provides the training and derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the student; and on occasion, the operations may actually be impeded by the training.
5. The student is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the training period.
6. The employer and the student understand that the student is not entitled to wages for the time spent training.

There’s a good letter to an intern from the Department of Labor that details those criteria. Note that you can report your employer on the web or by phone at 1-866-4-USWAGE. Or you can write a testimony to inform other potential interns – go to or Even third parties can file a lawsuit against an employer that offers unfair internships.

see the letter referenced above here … rnship.htm

Pay special attention to number 3, that is where most of these internships fail. If the majority of the activities are done solo, such as downloading images, filing, making phone calls, keeping the equipment tidy, hauling heavy equipment around, driving or doing errands then what you have is not a legal unpaid internship. At that point the positions must be paid at least min. wage.

Also internships that require 11+ hours of time a week could be logically seen to displace a regular employee.

I recently saw an internship that expected 40+ hours a week from the intern. That is not an internship, that is an unpaid job.

You're just not that pretty

So this is something that i feel needs to be said, many times models will complain over and over again about not getting the right trade for print offers, the right paid gigs etc... and people respond with height to weight ratio, get a better book together, etc...

but what they are not saying, but trying to tap dance around is that you just aren't all that pretty and you aren't right for modeling

things that might be said that indicate you are not that pretty, and why saying them is wrong (please feel free to fill in your own):

Suggestion: you should consider art modeling

Why it is wrong for you: unless what you are thinking of doing is posing for an art school class (nude) art models are very expressive models with something unusual and sensuous about them. That is not you.

You like to stick your butt in the air and state that someday you will be a successful model and pose for Maxim and King magazine. You won't be doing that either.

Suggestion: why not be an alt model

Why it is wrong for you: The clothing allowance alone is going to bankrupt you. And do you know how much work alt models put into creating an identity. Alt models do not just shop at hot topic and are done with it, they custom make pieces, shop for vintage, they live the life.

You bought a corset from Lotions and lace and put some temp green hairspray in your hair, that is not the same.

Suggestion: tone up a bit and loose some weight and you can be a commercial model

Why it is wrong for you: you aren't pretty. If you look like one of the girls from Beauty and the Geek you are not pretty. You are a make-up queen. Commercial modeling is about natural beautiful faces, or character faces.

Suggestion: try some stock photography

Why it is wrong for you: same rules as commercial

Suggestion: go into glamour

Why it is wrong for you: unless what you think they mean by go into glamour is grab your breasts, spread your legs, and put a doily on the goody bit in between, you are not a glamour model.

Glamour models are seductive and outrageous and beautiful. You don't have to be all those things, but it helps. it helps to have a nice rack, a small waist, and a decent size ass with a face that says I will make your dreams come true. You should make people stop and stare when you walk out in a swimsuit, and implied nudity is just a given.

Suggestion: pay a lot of money to a bunch of photographers and build your book

Why it is wrong for you: you are a struggling student and don't want to pay for photographers to shoot you. I mean you showed half a nipple once shouldn't that be enough.

AND even if you do all that it is unlikely you will get paid work, or even great tfcd. Since you will still look like you,

If no photographers want to shoot you TFCD, and not just people as advanced as me but also just half way decent shooters, than you just aren't that pretty, or unusual, or simply you just aren't model potential.

So yes there is a market for you, but be aware that if the only offers you get are the same offers you would get working at a strip club, you probably just aren't that pretty. You aren't right for being a paid full time model. You aren't right for even being a hlaf time model, but even if you aren't all that pretty I promise you that at least one guy will pay you to show your cooter.

If that isn't what you want to do, then modeling is not right for you.

You don't have to be pretty to model, but if you aren't interesting, unusual, talented, or sexy then pretty helps. If you aren't any of the aforementioned, you just aren't model material.

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Economy Sucks, and it is ok to acknowledge that

Nobody is looking for fresh talent.

I have a friend with a great photo rep, a solid commercial and editorial background, and gorgeous style who is worrying about paying his mortgage right now. His billing is 7,000 in arrears, with some clients at the 9 month mark. Jobs that were paying him $6,000 just a year ago are not asking him to bid $2,000.

So no, this is not a bright and cozy present we are living in. There are a few few people who are not feeling the pinch, for the rest of us the debt is rising and the jobs are disappearing.

There is a respected photographer on MM who constantly states that the economy isn't affecting him. I don't really know what is supposed to be accomplished by stating that the client base is still there and that it is still paying what it always paid. Maybe it is to make people feel bad that they aren't finding work?

Maybe it is to encourage people to keep looking?

But is false reassurance.

The reality for the greatest percentage of professional photographers is that life sucks. That clients are looking for trade shooters to shoot professional lookbooks, and I have been given offers for $250 for a full lookbook and 2 magazine ads.

It would be nice to believe that if you just market yourself right and work really hard that the jobs will come. That having satisfied clients will bring in more work. that the publicity from doing outstanding work for one publication will gather more work in other publications, but right now that is just pie in the sky bull crap.

I am considered the most successful photographer in my graduating class, and I am not making rent.

I remember a day, not too long ago, where I called 5 local editors. Out of those 5 editors, all were no longer working at the magazine they had been working at, and nobody was being hired to take their place.

Magazines are thinner then they ever used to be, and are dropping off like flies. Have you seen how large the print font has become in Entertainment Weekly?

So I am here to tell people it is ok if you aren't doing as well as you hoped. it is ok if you are producing salable work, but are unable to get anyone on the phone. It is ok if your book hasn't left its shelf for the last month, and you lost two jobs to people willing to do for free what you have to charge for. It is ok.

The economy will improve, the jobs will come back.

But I refuse to feel badly because I live in the real world, the world where the clients are lowering bids and raising expectations of what will be delivered wanting unlimited usage for no additional fee.

I live in the world where one of my classmates is still working at the school we graduated from 10 months ago. The world where my friend, a Rolling Stone, Spin and multiple other publications repped photographer is afraid he will lose his house from unpaid invoices.

I live in the world where photographers offer unpaid "internships" illegally in order to not pay for assistants, a place where I was counting on my skills being of marketability.

I live in the world where the LA Weekly gets 6-10 phone calls a day from photographers hoping to get work, when there is room for maybe 7 photographers total on their staff.

That is my world. And it is the world of the vast majority of young professional photographers.

I know this seems like a vehement response, but I have been seeing people over the past few months speak about how the economy isn't that bad and isn't affecting established photographers too badly.

I am here to say that that isn't true, and not just from my experience, but from the experience of every young photographer I know. So if you have been struggling of late, it isn't just you. You are not alone, and if you are producing commercially viable work, it isn't your fault. You aren't missing something, it just sucks to be a photographer in this market and this time.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

LA Weekly

So I have another shoot for the LA Weekly next week. Yea me! But I am getting nervous about whether or not i should go and buy a few accessories for it. Since whatever i buy I have to pay for it becomes problematic to say the least.

Will update when it prints.