Law Firm Going After Photographers Shooting In CA

A California law firm is using an often ignored part of CA labor law to go after photographers, producers and advertising agencies. On the website for the Muse Law Group under the heading Model Rights they state that:

Under California Law, actors, as well as print and commercial models are considered employees, which means they are protected under the same labor laws as any other employees. Yet the entertainment industry frequently treats the talent differently from other employees, or does not treat the talent as employees at all, routinely violating California’s wage laws. For example, in California, actors must be paid on the first pay period following the completion of the actor’s work; and print models must be paid on the last day of the shoot, even if the work lasts only one day.

They go on to say that failing to pay on the last day of employment results in a penalty equal to the average daily wage times the number of days it took to be paid with a maximum penalty of 30 days. In other words, a model you paid $1000 for 1 day of work, but waited 31 or more days to pay could be owed $30,000.

From what I understand the labor code they cite, California state labor code section 200-243, was created to protect migrant workers who are often hired and then released/fired. Seems reasonable except most businesses working with vendors and talent usually pay in 30 days (absurdly longer if you’re a magazine). I’ve been told by several sources that the law firm has sent out demand letters and there’s a rumor they are posting on forums like model mayhem to attract clients.

The California APA sent an email out to its members last night explaining what is happening and advising them that according to a lawyer they spoke with, to the best of their knowledge, there has been no legal decision made on the argument the demand letters are making.  The firm is hoping to settle, which is also indicated on their website where they say “We settle 95% of our cases without the need for court intervention.”

The CA APA goes on to say that you should contact a lawyer if you have been threatened with a claim. They also note that with talent that is represented by an agency the payment must go to the agency where there is a 30 day  re-disbursement of funds. Apparently the real danger is non agency represented talent who must be paid at the end of their shoot under CA labor law. Obviously, talent agencies that want to continue their relationship with photographers, producers and agencies are not going to do much about this, so I believe the real danger is with un-represented talent.

Photographer Scams

Photographers are continually getting hit with different versions of the check swap scam. The way it works is they contact you for an assignment then send you a check that overpays for the work or pays for you and someone else they claim to be working with. Then they ask you to refund the overpayment or pass along the extra to that person they’re working with (for weddings this could be a fake florist). You cash the check and send out the payment but after your payment is cashed the check they sent you bounces.

I’ve posted about this before and people left the emails they’d gotten in the comments which seems to help thwart this because the names and emails used show up in searches with the headline “Photographer Scam.”


How is Business today?

My name is Sonia Ramirez. I am an handicap and i reside in U.K.
The reason i am contacting you is that my Son is having his birthday soon in your Location,United States on the 19th of August 2011 and I will like you to take care of the Photographs.

I came across your advert on the Internet and am impressed with your services.
All expenses would be taken care of,Please I want the best service from you, because this is my only son so i want the best for him. So your best effort is needed at this occasion.

Pls Let me know your price to work for 3 Hours on that day,12 noon to 3 pm in the afternoon.We want about 25 copies of different photos in coloured form.We want you to work for at least 3 Hours at the occasion.

Also,we will have the photographs snapped at the Birthday forwarded to the Publisher of a Magazine Company in United Kingdom so they could feature it in their celebrity journal.

I look forward to your response

Best Regards
Sonia Ramirez

From: mack carthy
Subject: Wedding
Date: Friday, June 24, 2011, 6:06 PM

I will like to know if you can shoot a wedding of about 100 guest. Please let me know so that I can give you details.


Gallery Will Exhibit Your Work If You Pay Them

I wrote a post on this practice over a year ago with a gallery in Montreal (here):

That one looked like a steal compared to the terms on this pay-to-play group show: £2200 for a group show. Times must be tough…

Dear [redacted],

Artspace-Galleries would like to invite you to take part in our upcoming group exhibitions in the hearts of Mayfair London and Paris. This presents a fantastic opportunity for you to move into the international market and to exhibit your artwork in two of the most significant art centers of the world.

The group exhibition includes all of the following:

  • One week exhibition in London
  • Two week exhibition in Paris
  • One art opening in both London and Paris
  • On-going promotion to our client list
  • PR & Marketing of the exhibition
  • Five year presence in the Events section of our website
  • One year presence in the Buy/Sell section of our website
  • Eligibility to be selected into the New & Emerging Artist Reward Program
  • No gallery commission on artwork sales

Group exhibition guidelines:

  • We are currently accepting registrations for group exhibitions in 2011 and 2012. We have a limited number of spaces available, so we urge you to register as soon as possible to ensure you will be able to exhibit.
  • After you register your profile and submit five samples of your artwork online, Artspace-Galleries will determine if you would be suitable for a group exhibition.
  • Once selected, we will organize and promote your group exhibition with direct mail & online marketing and targeted public relations. The total fee for these services is £2200, and we take no commission on the sale of your artwork.
  • When you have registered and have been selected, you will be asked to pay a £500 deposit, which will be applied towards your total fee. This will reserve your space in the group exhibition, and we will start promoting your work on our website and to our client base. The remaining balance of your payment should be paid in full 8 weeks before your mutually agreed-upon exhibition date.
  • Your group exhibition will bring together the works of six different artists, with each artist having the chance to exhibit up to six canvases or ten sculpture/installation pieces.
  • We offer shipping of artwork from the artist to London, from London to Paris, and from Paris back to the artist for the following fees:

£600 to/from Africa, North & South America, Asia, Australia, or Oceania

£200 to/from Europe

(These rates are based on a maximum of 20 kg and no wider than 1.5m. You may provide your own shipping, however your artwork will have to be shipped from one city to another within two days.)

New & Emerging Artist Reward Program:

  • At the end of the year, the jury of Artspace-Galleries consisting of art professionals, highly qualified art directors and curators will identify the six most outstanding group exhibition artists of the year.
  • If chosen, you will be rewarded with one year of online promotion and a two week group exhibition in both London and Paris, free of charge, based on sales commissions of 50/50.

Submission and additional information:

We look forward to hearing from you,

Elina Steinhauer
Group Exhibition Consultant
Prestigious  international art galleries In London Mayfair and Paris

Here’s the contract if you’re interested (here)

The Strange Case Of The Modeling Polaroid

contra-vampire-weekendLast month Vanity Fair had a web exclusive on a fascinating story over a disputed model release. The ultra-hip band Vampire Weekend, who perform their concerts in Ivy League-style getups, seemed to have stumbled upon the perfect image for their new album Contra. Months before the debut on January 12th this year, a photograph of the ultimate prepster: blond hair, blue eyes, popped collar, made its way around the internet linking to a site called, I Think Ur a Contra. When the album finally dropped the picture was the cover and became an integral part of the bands website and tour.

How they acquired the Polaroid is where this story gets fascinating. According to the band they bought it off New York photographer and filmmaker Tod Brody for $5000. He says that he took the photo in the summer of 1983 during a casting session for a television commercial. But, Vanity Fair has an interview with the model, Ann Kirsten Kennis, who alleges that the photograph was instead taken by her mother and somehow picked up by Brody. According to VF she has a similar looking Polaroid of she and her sister framed in her house. Ann, apparently tired of seeing her picture plastered all over the place filed a $2 million misappropriation-of-image lawsuit in LA against Vampire Weekend, Tod Brody, and the band’s London-based label, XL Recordings.

But, here’s where it gets real interesting. According the Vanity Fair:

“If the Contra case does go to trial, the outcome could hinge on a key document: a model release form that appears to be dated July 30, 2009. (The date is crossed out and re-written.) The form is from Vampire Weekend Inc. to someone named “Kirsten Johnsen” (spelled “Johnson” elsewhere on the form), who signed her permission for the band to use her image for a fee of $1. The form contains no mention of Brody, but it does include an address named in the suit as Brody’s residence. No release form from the 1980s has yet been presented in court.”

To me this is a clear example of a photographer providing a model release where one didn’t exist and having it blow up in his face. $5000 bucks in the pocket from an old casting picture that nobody will notice… To make matters worse, there is an entire website dedicated to uncovering Tod Brody as a fraud: This is not looking good for Tod. My guess is that this thing will be settled out of court and we will never know what really went down. What’s interesting to me this idea that companies are somehow responsible to fact check a release that’s given to them. I’m sure there’s some legal precedent that could be established if this goes to trial or maybe it already exists. Either way it’s a fascinating story to read.

Have I Told You How HUGE This Opportunity Is?

This kind of thing is usually relegated to the lower realms of photography but it’s nice to see Advertising Agency Latcha and Associates would like to include car photographers by seeing if they will shoot samples on spec. From their “Shoot A Sample” brief:

selected photography samples will be presented to the client. upon approval, you will become a preferred shooter for our collateral work. Bottom line: there is a lot of photography that needs to be captured. and shooting needs to begin soon. since the look is very unique, it is imperative that we have the right talent in place to move forward. We will create a talent pool of those who hit-the-mark to then move forward in bidding projects, and in some cases, direct award. also, and most importantly. this is a HUGE opportunity to shoot a look that’s new and fresh. you get to be part of our team – and assist in collaborating and evolving the style of a major automotive brand!


We sincerely hope you join us in this sample project. this is a very exciting time to be creative and redefine an agency/photographer relationship. By participating in this exploratory project, you are agreeing to do so without reimbursement from latcha or lincoln.

Nice try Latcha, you didn’t think we’d notice, did you?

Picture 3


—– Forwarded Message —-
From: David Latcha <>
Sent: Thu, August 19, 2010 1:30:52 PM
Subject: Re: FYI Shoot A Car Sample Brief

Thank you for your insights.

1. This information was shared, under confidentiality, to a select group of photographers. When we find out who shared this information with you, that photograper/rep will be banned from ever working with this agency and I’ll make sure that all of the other art buyers in Detroit are aware of their indiscretion.
2. We have no idea who you are or if you even are what you claim. No website? That doesn’t seem professional.
3. You have no idea what is being asked. That is obvious. Professional car photographers are asked by all reputable agencies to produce samples to help define strategic goals. If the photographer has produced a style and a look that works for the strategic creative, and the agency and client agree, then that photographer is then chosen to shoot and produce all, if not a majority, of all of the photographic needs for the campaign.
4. We are not “stealing” shots, these are samples that we are asking for. The brief describes that we are not paying for the exploration, but at the same time, we ARE NOT USING ANY OF THE PHOTOGRAPHY being shot AS SAMPLES for any purpose other than to determine the creativity and artistry that a photographer may bring.

David Latcha

Interesting because spamming photographers with your proposal does not infer any kind of confidentiality what-so-ever. Also, I doubt this claim that “Professional car photographers are asked by all reputable agencies to produce samples” because I’ve spoken with professional car photographers who thought this was a horrible proposal.

Terry Richardson Getting Lit Up By The Blogs For His Lewd Behavior

I wasn’t sure if the piece in Jezebel yesterday entitled “Meet Terry Richardson, The World’s Most F—ked Up Fashion Photographer” had legs but it seems to be making the rounds today and picking up steam:

Fashion’s Raunchiest Photog – The Daily Beast

Fashion’s bad boy perv goes too far – Salon

Everyone in Fashion Knows Terry Richardson Messes Around With the Girls He Photographs – NY Magazine

Model Jamie Peck: ‘Perv’ Terry Richardson ‘Waggled’ His Privates Around – Huffington Post

It all started when model Rie Rasmussen called him out. “for exploiting and degrading young women through the power of his lens” in the NYPost (here) and then that story in Jezebel where a model recounted several encounters with Terry that has now left everyone a little disgusted and alarmed with his behavior. In a few of those stories fashion insiders are defending his behavior as common for “…an industry filled with crazy people and big personalities.”

I guess I always assumed that Terry kept two separate worlds going, one in which he shot fashion, portraits and covers of high profile models, celebrities and politicians and one in which he fed and documented his sexual appetite. But, I guess I should have figured that line would be impossible to maintain and certainly even harder the more vigorous the ego stroking by the art, fashion and media communities. Of course we’ve seen photographers taken through the wringer online before and they never seem much worse for wear on the outside but who knows what potential jobs are spiked because of it.


Illegal Obama Billboard Creates Free Publicity

New York garment company Weatherproof rips a page out of Dov Charney’s advertising playbook by using an unlicensed image of Obama on a billboard in Times Square (NYTimes story). In this case the image was licensed from the AP but they never acquired a release from Obama to use his likeness for advertising. I’m not sure what’s more distressing, the amount of free publicity it generated, thereby guaranteeing more of these stunts in the future or the number of stories I read where the writers where unsure if it was actually illegal to do this.

Clients From Hell

“Can you please remove the iStockPhoto watermark on the photos? I don’t think it adds anything visually.”

Picture 8

Funny website where designers submit client horror stories (here). Found it on SwissMiss. Where’s the photographer version?

Who Is Going To Cover All Expenses On A Car Shoot?

Seriously. I’ve heard a rumor that Campbell-Ewald Art Buyers are asking agents and photographers to cover all the expenses on car shoots they’re shopping around.

Here are the terms they’re sending to everyone:

The new terms are as follows:

Payment on a Sequential Liability basis (agency shall pay vendor once paid by General Motors)

No upfront advance on photo shoots.

I’ve heard people are turning them down. Might be tempting to cover the expenses knowing that will give you a leg up on the competition… would be a very bad precedent to set.

Concert Photographers Asked To Transfer Copyright To Jane’s Addiction

Filed under WTF? I’m told some photographers are asked to sign this document and some are not. “…I hereby grant, transfer, convey and assign to you all right, title and interest throughout the universe in perpetuity, including, without limitation, the copyright…”

Seriously, you need the copyright!? What’s the point of coming to your stupid effing show and taking your picture then?

Guess times are tough in the music biz.


Alert: Help Fix Microsoft Outlook So It Doesn’t Wreck Email Campaigns

Microsoft have just confirmed they plan on using the crippled Word rendering engine to display HTML emails in Outlook 2010.

This means for the next 5 years your email designs will need tables for layout, have no support for CSS like float and position and no background images. Not to mention the long list of bugs and quirks that break the simplest of layouts.

Outlook 2010 is still in beta and Microsoft have confirmed they want to hear your feedback on this decision. It’s time for the email marketing and design community to rally together and encourage Microsoft to embrace web standards before it’s too late.
What’s the best way to do that? Twitter of course.

Visit to see how you can help and what the community is saying right now.

PDN’s All White Photo Contest Jury

Stan Banos of the blog Reciprocity Failure was dangling some blog bait a few weeks ago (here) when he published a piece about the 24 white jurors from this years PDN Photography Annual. I didn’t take the bait because picking on PDN is not something I particularly enjoy or find moves the conversation in an interesting or positive direction. And, having worked in the magazine world I understand and grew to hate one of the biggest failings of magazines that leads to stupid things like this happening. They don’t give a shit about the community around them. Editors do, photo editors do, writers do, photographers do, but collectively you would never see a magazine try to make the little slice of the world they live in better (that would cost money). This is why there is no loyalty among readers. This is why magazines are losing relevance. This is why new media is exciting.

This is why no one issues a standing order at a magazine to broaden the demographic.

Well, the blog bait just got huge:

“Rather than see the world of photography dragged through the mud and a cloud hang over PDN Duckrabbit have announced that they are offering $1000 to anyone who can credibly defend the all white panel.”

“Stan Banos claims PDN’s action is in part an example of ‘passive racism.’ Surely an outrageous slur on the photographic industry? In the absence of PDN feeling the need to respond, duckrabbit are offering $1000 to anyone who can prove Banos wrong.”

So why did PDN do it? Passive racism probably fit’s the bill. If one of their objectives was to build a stonger community, this kind of thing would have never happened.

Ignoring it seems like passive racism too.

UPDATE: Comments Closed.

“Facebook And Twitter Lost Me An Advertising Shoot”

A photographer wrote me recently to tell me how Facebook and Twitter lost them a job.

“My reps got me a job with the ad agency that was doing Xxxxxx Xxxx. I’m a young photographer and this was my first major campaign so I threw this up on Twitter and Facebook ‘sweet. Got the Xxxxxx Xxxx gig!'”

So, then what happened next is a friend who works at the agency but not on that account runs into his boss and casually mentions how great it is that they decided on that photographer for the account and the boss freaks out. He says, “how did you know about that?” to which the photographers friend replies, “I saw a tweet about it.”

The boss then calls the reps and says the deal is off citing some confidentiality agreement no one knew existed.

The photographer tells me “I fear that it was my big break and I blew it over hubris and five little words.”

I’m not posting this so we can all jump all over the photographer who feels awful about it and obviously made a big mistake that would allow the competition to connect a photographer with an upcoming campaign (I assume this is not irrational of the agency). It’s just a friendly warning/reminder that we all live in a small highly connected world now and you shouldn’t write things you wouldn’t want everyone to see.

Is A Copyright Registry Scam?

John Harrington has done the leg work to check out and discovers some nefarious marketing and language that would potentially make them an agent for your work.

“According to c-registry, photographers who fail to “claim” their copyright at c-registry do so at their own peril. While you should register your copyright, this is alarmist marketing, but it gets worse.”

via Photo Business News & Forum.

Utah Sticks It To All Their Photographers

As if the 3.2 beer isn’t enough of a deterrent to photographers living and working in Utah now the state is trying to collect from photographers, who they feel don’t do a very good job following their tax law. The timing of this is unbelievably absurd.

Here’s a couple of nuggets from the FAQ’s of the state of Utah’s self audit of the business of photography (here):

Q: Isn’t photography a service? Why should sales tax be collected on a service?

A: The object of photography is to provide a customer with a photographic image, the sale of which is taxable whether delivered as tangible personal property or as a digital image.

Q: I sell licenses or rights to my photographic images, not the images themselves. If there’s no print, isn’t it nontaxable?

A: No. The sale of “stock photography,” the licensing for either permanent or limited use of a photographic image, is subject to sales tax, even if electronically transferred as a digital image

More pain after the jump.

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