‘Dear Craigslist Photographer’ – What your search for models is REALLY saying

Jun 1, 2015

Allen Mowery

Allen Mowery is a Nationally-published Commercial & Editorial Photographer with over 20 years of experience. He has shot for major brands as well small clients. When not shooting client work or chasing overgrown wildlife from his yard, he loves to capture the stories of the people and culture around him.

‘Dear Craigslist Photographer’ – What your search for models is REALLY saying

Jun 1, 2015

Allen Mowery

Allen Mowery is a Nationally-published Commercial & Editorial Photographer with over 20 years of experience. He has shot for major brands as well small clients. When not shooting client work or chasing overgrown wildlife from his yard, he loves to capture the stories of the people and culture around him.

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Dear Craigslist Photographer,

Can I share something with you that both makes me laugh and want to go all Chuck Norris on a stuffed animal at the same time?  Okay, I’ll take your hesitancy as an opportunity to just say what I have to say:  Either you are just creepy, or your PR agency is really failing you.  Let me show you what I mean.

Here is your recent Craigslist post seeking “unconventional models” with whom to work.  (Don’t worry, I removed anything that could be used to reveal your identity…which didn’t take much effort.)

craigslist-model-search

Now, that might seem pretty innocuous, especially to you, but allow me to share what I saw when I read this.

Let’s break it down…

Your Headline

“looking for Unconventional models” [sic]  Pretty self-explanatory…except the part that I saw saying, “This won’t be your typical headshot session.” I also read, “I’m apathetic about details.  I can’t be arsed to bother with proper grammar, so don’t expect me to pay a whole lot of attention to photographic details.”  Then again, I could be wrong.  Perhaps this is part of a strategy to make your target demographic feel more at ease.

I’m a photographer and I travel.  I’ve done this for a long time.

I read, “I am trying to impress you right out of the gate because the rest of this could get a little hairy, and I don’t want you to run away.”  You assume that the readers of your post will be drawn to a person with your perceived experience.  But instead, I read, “I’m not young.  This is my hobby and I’m still looking for my big break, which is why I’m hanging out here.”  There is also another interpretation I got, but I’m trying to be respectful and not make assumptions.

I have a website and can show you my work.

That’s great!  In today’s world, having a website is imperative for success to be achieved.  It is also assumed, and stating as such without actually showing us (e.g. providing a link) looks a little shady.  What are you trying to hide?  Instead of being impressed, as I assumed you had intended, I saw, “I don’t really want to reveal my identity because I don’t want the rest of the world to know it’s really me posting this.”

“I prefer newbie models as to help them build there [sic] portfolios…”

That is very noble of you.  Everyone has to begin somewhere, and providing that starting point is very generous of you.  However, what I saw when I read this was, “I like working with aspiring models because they are so desperate to get recognized that they can be convinced to do almost anything.”  You seem to try and counteract this assumption by adding that you are willing to work with experienced models as well, but all I gathered from that was, “I’m saving my ass…and am willing to photograph anyone who’s desperate.”

“My concepts range from pretty to pretty bizarre.”

You are an artist with a wide range of talent.  Excellent!  I understood that to mean, “During your shoot, I will warm things up with glamour shots to make sure you are somewhat comfortable and will slowly up the ante until I can get you into doing some pretty weird things…most likely with your clothes off.”

“I pride myself on photographing those who normally wouldn’t consider modeling.”

I’m a bit confused here…  Why would you say that you prefer working with new models and then pull a 180 and say that you take pride in photographing people who haven’t even considered modeling?  How does that work?  Logic would dictate that if someone isn’t trying to break into the modeling field that they probably are not an aspiring model…but, that’s just me.  What I gathered was, “Are you insecure?  Do you have psychological and emotional issues from your past that are getting in the way of you feeling pretty?  I want to capitalize on that!”

“Girls of all sizes and shapes, everyone is beautiful and I love to show that off.”

Maybe we’ve found a point of agreement!  The way society and the media have skewed the perception of beauty is absolutely appalling.  A woman doesn’t have to be a size zero to be beautiful, and I’m glad you made this point.  However, to me it read a little bit like, “Actually, I really don’t care who you are or what you look like as long as you’re female and willing to ‘do stuff.’”

“All of my images are artistic and tasteful.”

Who are you trying to convince?  More importantly, why do you feel the need to convince us? Between the lines I saw, “I don’t want to scare you away or make you think I’m some kind of pervert.  This is art, so don’t be frightened…you will like the pictures I take.”

“I don’t work with anyone underage…”

This is the dead giveaway for, “I absolutely intend for you to show me your tiddles and bits.”  Which is fine, and it’s very wise of you to make sure that all parties involved are of legal adult age for a whole variety of reasons.  “I hope to get responses from girls as young as possible…but, I want to be sure I don’t get arrested for this, so don’t reply if you are an insecure girl who can’t legally buy your own cigarettes.”

“…please include a few recent pictures so I get idea what I’m working with.” [sic]

“Photos of you can help me better conceptualize a shoot, and swimsuit photos would work perfectly fine.  But, what I’m really hoping is that you include some topless or full nude photos of yourself when you respond to this ad.”  I think you said it best right there.

The Pay

Trade-for (also known as TFP, or TF-insert-any-variety-of-letters-here) is very common throughout the lower end of the industry, so I do not fault you for this.  However, in light of the rest of your post, I think you meant, “And, by the way, there won’t be any pay for this…so, I’m not really investing anything into this shoot where I will get to see you naked and contorted into any variety of poses.  Cheap entertainment for me, if you will.  However, I would be more than happy to give you copies of the final images.  After all, it’s the least you deserve…just be thankful you’re a ‘model’ and not a stripper.”

So, dear photographer, what your quest for models really says to me is:

This won’t be your typical headshot session!

I’m apathetic about details.  I can’t be arsed to bother with proper grammar, so don’t expect me to pay a whole lot of attention to photographic details.  I am trying to impress you right out of the gate because the rest of this could get a little hairy, and I don’t want you to run away.  I’m not young.  This is my hobby and I’m still looking for my big break, which is why I’m hanging out here.  I don’t really want to reveal my identity because I don’t want the rest of the world to know it’s really me posting this.

Are you insecure?  Do you have psychological and emotional issues from your past that are getting in the way of you feeling pretty?  I want to capitalize on that!  I like working with aspiring models because they are so desperate to get recognized that they can be convinced to do almost anything.  But, just to be clear, I am willing to photograph anyone who’s desperate.  Actually, I really don’t care who you are or what you look like as long as you’re female and willing to “do stuff.”

During your shoot, I will warm things up with glamour shots to make sure you are somewhat comfortable and will slowly up the ante until I can get you into doing some pretty weird things…most likely with your clothes off.  I don’t want to scare you away or make you think I’m some kind of pervert.  This is art, so don’t be frightened…you will like the pictures I take.

I absolutely intend for you to show me your tiddles and bits.  I hope to get responses from girls as young as possible…but, I want to be sure I don’t get arrested for this, so don’t reply if you are an insecure girl who can’t legally buy your own cigarettes. I’m also really hoping that you include some topless or full nude photos of yourself when you respond to this ad.

BT-dubs, there won’t be any pay for this…so, I’m not really investing anything into this shoot where I will get to see you naked and contorted into any variety of poses.  (Cheap entertainment for me, if you will.)  However, I would be more than happy to give you copies of the final images.  After all, it’s the least you deserve…just be thankful you’re a “model” and not a stripper.

Now, perhaps I’ve got it all wrong…

Maybe you are legitimately an experienced photographer who is hoping to make a positive difference in the lives of young girls aspiring to use their God-given beauty as a way to be self-sufficient.  If that is the case, then please forgive me for misreading your post…sometimes I get my wires crossed.  But, if I am indeed correct in what I understood, stay the hell away from my daughter.

With all the respect I can stand to muster,
M

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Allen Mowery

Allen Mowery

Allen Mowery is a Nationally-published Commercial & Editorial Photographer with over 20 years of experience. He has shot for major brands as well small clients. When not shooting client work or chasing overgrown wildlife from his yard, he loves to capture the stories of the people and culture around him.

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15 responses to “‘Dear Craigslist Photographer’ – What your search for models is REALLY saying”

  1. Clayton Glover Avatar
    Clayton Glover

    BINGO

  2. Rafael Lago Avatar
    Rafael Lago

    The first glance I had, it just seemed a dude looking for models, and not a creepy dude wanting to take weird shots of young barely legal girls. He maybe just had a poor choice of words. So, I think (and hope) you got it all wrong.

    1. Kay O. Sweaver Avatar
      Kay O. Sweaver

      I wouldn’t write exactly what this guy did, but I might write some of the same things. Sometimes the effort not to come off as a creepy GWC has the opposite effect.

  3. Rona E Philpott Avatar
    Rona E Philpott

    The ‘nail’ has been hit right on the head!!

  4. Sheri Belanger Avatar
    Sheri Belanger

    Perfect !!

  5. UCPhoto Avatar
    UCPhoto

    can I share this off of twitter completely, plus include a link?

    1. Allen Mowery Avatar
      Allen Mowery

      Sharing through Twitter is perfectly allowed, I believe :-)

  6. Andrew Faulk Avatar
    Andrew Faulk

    I love this Allen. Witty and truthful. As a portrait photographer who actually does work with aspiring models, I cringe when I see ads from GWCs (Guys with Cameras). Thank you for taking the time to call attention to these rather dodgy ads.

    1. gfregregsr Avatar
      gfregregsr

      Because portrait photographers who actually do work with aspiring models are NEVER trying to get the chicks naked, noooooo way.

      1. Andrew Faulk Avatar
        Andrew Faulk

        I like sarcasm gfregregsr. It shows you are witty.
        My point was that if a portrait photographer is making a living shooting aspiring models, I am sure that their primary concern is putting food on their family’s table.

  7. Ralph Hightower Avatar
    Ralph Hightower

    Two words: “Charles Manson”. Although Manson probably never owned a camera; still creepy, none the less.

  8. Dan K Avatar
    Dan K

    I’ve assisted on TFP shoots. No nudity, no creepiness. Just good portfolio building work. Photographer nearly got divorced.

  9. Rob Timko Avatar
    Rob Timko

    If you’re a photographer who shoots nude and fetish, it’s best to just stick to fetlife and sites targeted at your community. Or, just build up a personal network. OR, just be honest for gods sake. I put an ad up once “who wants to put a foxtail buttplug in your ass and let me take 3d film shots with this old camera I got” and I got 22 responses and had an amazing shoot.

    I completely agree with ““ALL OF MY IMAGES ARE ARTISTIC AND TASTEFUL.”
    Who are you trying to convince? More importantly, why do you feel the need to convince us?”

    Lame words. Just be honest in what you’re shooting. You can absolutely shoot this genre of photography without trying to ‘trick’ people like a creeper or be a creeper.

    Not everyone who shoots this genre is a creeper and I wouldn’t be so quick dismiss a genre of photography I don’t know much about. Ellen Von Unwerth, Araki, Daido Moriyama, Richard Kern, Roy Stuart are all incredible photographers in this genre

  10. E23NEWYORK Avatar
    E23NEWYORK

    PERFECT! Except, alot of artist have learning difficulties and aren’t the best at grammar or spelling but have BEAUTIFUL work and are visually detailed.

  11. ext237 Avatar
    ext237

    “[TFP] is very common throughout the lower end of the industry.”

    Lower end of the industry.

    OR, maybe its a guy that enjoys making art and needs fresh faces at low/no cost? I do TFP and model practice shoots occasionally and guess what — never asked someone to get naked. Check out my 500px and Flickr feed. Not a single nipple or even underwear.

    Yet another significantly over-generalized blog post about other photographers not living up to Allen Mowery standards.

    Editing to add link: flickr.com/ext237