In the past little while, there have been several news articles, such as this Daily Mail Article, that have been scrutinizing online modeling portfolio sites. This is because three young Colorado women who had online modeling portfolios have disappeared and have not yet been found. I am very sad for their friends and family who are dealing with their disappearance.
After reading all these articles and doing further research about whether or not online modeling sites are safe, I have come up with my own conclusion.
I often get emails from young girls asking me how to get started as a model and how to be safe when using online modeling portfolio sites to find modeling jobs and other talent to work with. I feel like it is my duty to write this article to not only give models some tips on how to be safe but also let them know that modeling portfolio sites themselves are not dangerous.
Asking if an online modeling portfolio site is safe is like asking if driving a car is safe. When you think about it, there are far more fatal car accidents than there are aspiring models who go missing.
Online modeling portfolios are valuable tools, which, when used properly, can yield good results.
Any time you use a social media platform where you are interacting with other users, there is always a chance that you will run into a bad person. When you start a public Facebook profile, you take that chance too. Also, any time that you are out at a downtown club late at night, you have about as much chance of running into questionable characters, if not more so.
In order to be truly safe, do nothing that has any sort of risk attached to it. If we all did that, nothing would ever get done. So that’s not a really good solution. What I want to say is that with modeling sites, just like any other means of communication with other people, there are precautions that you have to take when interacting with other users. Keep reading to find some tips on Internet safety for aspiring models.
Sure, people can take the “Oh, she’s an aspiring model with a modeling portfolio on the Internet” and “Now she’s missing” and automatically weave those things together. However, I disagree. I don’t think there is a linear correlation between having an online modeling portfolio and disappearing. As a user of modeling portfolio sites, I find many of the assumptions about online modeling sites wrong.
With that being said, I’ve come up with a few tips for aspiring models on how to be safe when using the Internet to find work:
1. If the offer is too good to be true, it probably is. If someone contacts you on an Internet site and promises to make you rich and famous quickly, you should understand that it’s not real. That person most likely has ulterior motives and is looking to either take your money or take you.
2. What does their portfolio look like? If they claim to be a photographer and their portfolio is full of poorly shot images of girls barely wearing any clothes and looking scared, then this is not someone you should work with. Just say no. It doesn’t matter if they offer you money to shoot, because honestly, you don’t want to have such images of you out there, especially if later on in life you change your mind about wanting to become a model.
3. How do they conduct themselves in email correspondence? If they are sending you inappropiate messages and sharing unwelcome off-colour jokes with you (about sex, etc) before they even met you, then I don’t think you want to find out what they are like in person.
4.Who else have they worked with? Let’s face it, if they have been logging on to the site for several years and they still only have 4 photos from several years ago up on their site, then you should wonder why they haven’t worked with anyone else in that time and why they are contacting you now.
5. Check references. If you can, don’t just ask for references directly from that person, but find their references yourself and contact those people. For example, if it’s a photographer, find links to the models that they worked with and contact those models asking them what the photographer was like to work with. If the photographer is not posting any links to people they’ve worked with, then ask yourself why.
6. Meet the person in a public place prior to the shoot. Although some people on the Internet may claim this is a waste of time, I don’t necessarily think so. If someone doesn’t have enough references and is not established as a photographer, then it’s best to meet that person in a public place to see what they are like. If they insist on meeting in a more private place, don’t go.
7. Google their name. One of the easiest ways to check if someone is real is to Google their name along with “scam” “fraud” “review” etc. in the search.
I hope that the 7 tips on Internet safety above are helpful to you as an aspiring model. Good luck and stay safe!