Why I do not leave feedback for Amazon purchases. (…look at the ass raping that took place when I tried to purchase a product on Amazon)

Why I do not leave feedback for Amazon purchases.

Who hasn’t purchased something from Amazon.com? Kind of a dumb question at this point in the year 2020. I have been buying from Amazon all the way back when Amazon was just selling one thing and one thing only… books. In fact, when you tell a millennial “Amazon used to be just a book dealer”, they’re in the same shock and disbelief as when they hear that “cool ZZ Top” song and then find out that they’re great grandparents seen ZZ Top live.

As we moved into the era of online shopping there needed to be a way of knowing a website or merchant was reputable, honest and had merchandise that lived up to the description. It wasn’t long before the “feedback” system appeared with star ratings or positive vs negative feedback to put customers at ease and feel confident about making an online purchase. At least with a brick & mortar store you have the ability to return your unsatisfactory product and confront someone in person.

However, the day the feedback system was created it was most likely the very next day merchants like Amazon started creating a system to fuck customers over with fake feedback, fake reviews, false or misleading reviews and of course fake star ratings. If you follow this post through to its entirety, I will describe to you how people create fake feedback on eBay and other sites as well.

But, first let us look at the ass raping that took place when I tried to purchase a product on Amazon and was totally mislead. Then when I tried to leave a 1-star review of the product because Amazon refused to change the wording of the product, Amazon would not post my review. Amazon claimed that my review did not follow their guidelines. All I did was submit a review that stated I received the wrong product, I showed a photo of the product and the wording of my review was rather mild, coherent and to the point.

That was the day I stopped reviewing products on Amazon.

I am a photographer/videographer and PolarPro Filters sells higher end gear for cameras & drones. I fully believe they are a good honest company. The dealer on Amazon was listed as “Polar Pro Filters” and not PolarPro Filters. I did not catch this detail in the misleading spelling and this would account for the reason the dealer was a fake.

The product I purchased was a counterweight for a DJI phone gimbal. I wanted a counterweight for a DJI Osmo Mobile 1 and I received a counterweight for an Osmo Mobile 2, despite the description clearly stating the product was for the Mobile 1 and not for the Mobile 2.  Not to mention the fact that when I received the product you could tell the box had been opened multiple times and re-taped shut. I mean this whole ordeal was as preposterous as any thing could ever be. It was almost as if it was a prank, sadly it was not. So, after going back & forth with Amazon I decided to just give up, keep the product, which I gave to a friend who had an Osmo Mobile 2 and just put the whole thing behind me. I truly believe the product I received was not a fake (just the wrong one) and I don’t really hold anything against the maker of the product (PolarPro Filters). However, to this day I have never submitted another review for any product I have purchased from www.amazon.com . Prior to this I almost always left some sort of a review on just about every purchase, I believed in the feedback & star rating system. Sure, I could usually tell which reviews were the fake reviews that were created by the dealer of a product but this time I was done with it all. Now I know some people reading this post will say “hey what about all the honest dealers” that sell on Amazon. And to that I say “screw’em all.” Harsh, brash, rude… call it what you will, I really don’t care. If I get a product I don’t like I return it and as for my camera gear; if I am making a high dollar purchase I will head on over to www.bhphotovideo.com/ . For low quality camera gear, I use Amazon for what it actually is; A place to buy cheap junk made in China.

So, what about the fake positive feedback on eBay? Ok, so I have been on eBay since August of 2000. I have purchased on eBay and I have sold on eBay. I realized from the get-go that maintaining a 100% feedback rating was paramount. I have listed my own sales for eBay and more so I have helped several friends sell on eBay. I have sold items as small as a vintage postage stamp and as large as a Caterpillar Bulldozer and everything in between. I have sold items that seemed worthless however, somebody in Argentina or Italy or Germany or where ever thought it was a value and purchased it. I made a fair amount of money selling gas masks during the Anthrax scare in 2001. I never over charged sole. I merely listed a gas mask at $1 and let the bidders fight it out. Was I proud to sell gas masks to people on eBay? Not really but, the Anthrax scare appeared right after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and my catering business died because nobody wanted to have a party. Ironically, I had been surfing eBay weeks before the terrorist attacks and seen industrial lots (pallets) of gas masks listed for a very low price. When the Anthrax scare hit, I jumped and took what few dollars I had and bought gas masks. I cleaned them (they were new but filthy) and packaged them, listed them and received positive feedback for every transaction.

The reason I tell you all this is I want you to know I have put my time in on eBay and I would be on there every day, all day looking for the next big thing to sell. After that winter had past my catering business resumed to normal and I rarely went back to eBay.

While I was putting in my long days on eBay looking at trends, I was always perplexed at how some dealers had these huge positive feedback ratings and then all of the sudden their feedback ratings took a huge dive into the negative and then the dealer kind of disappeared or became inactive. What was going on to cause this? Was I the only one to see this? So, here is what I uncovered.

A dealer registers with eBay as a new user. The dealer then starts making purchases of stupid little things like stamps or hex nuts, bolts or even string. Like, just a piece of string. The purchases would be for a very small amount of money, most times a few cents. The seller would be new to eBay and likewise the purchaser was new to eBay. Both were leaving positive feedback for each another. The transactions would number in the hundreds per week and in no time at all they would both have huge positive feedback ratings. Then the dealer and the customers would go dormant for a while with no transactions being made. After not making transactions for so long the product links in their feedback ratings would be unavailable. So, if you (the unsuspecting) buyer went to look at their feedback all you would see is that they had a high number of transactions (over 1000) as a seller and their rating was 100% leading you to believe they were a reputable dealer.

So, by this point I think you have figured out the dealer and the seller are the same person using two different eBay accounts. Nobody is actually buying anything; they are just conducting transactions to create feedback. Of course, eBay is making money on the transactions and essentially the dealer is buying a feedback rating.

Then the assault took place. The dealer would list a bunch of items all within about a week and sell products that were much more than the pieces of string or hex nuts they had been selling several months ago.  Sadly, the items they were now selling were receiving a lot of not so good feedback. Essentially, they were ripping people off with fake or misleading products. Many times, the descriptions would have the item listed as “location Brooklyn, NY” when in fact it was being shipped to the USA from various places like Hong Kong, Singapore and other places in Asia.

Now, you do have to know this was many years ago and it was long before PayPal had their “Buyer Protection” as they now have today. Nonetheless, I had seen what I have just described played out time and time again during the winter of 2001-2002. I had contacted eBay multiple times about what was going on and not one time did I notice the usernames involved stop their actions. Most times eBay never responded and if they did it was a BS email from low level peon. Therefore, it led me to believe eBay knew what was happening and just did not care at all. Since then this same scenario and others that are similar have played out on many online selling/shopping platforms.

To conclude; in my opinion I take the whole feedback/star rating thing with a grain of salt. This blog post has only scratched the tip of the iceberg, not to mention the vast concept that you have dip-shit people who leave negative feedback on good products. People who buy something and have no idea how to read and understand directions (if they read them at all) and then claim the product to be defective or not as described. Sadly, it is not a crime to be stupid.

Thank you for reading and have a great day.

Best of luck shopping online.

 

Covid-19 Daze Part 2 (…it never felt so good to be out in the rain with my cameras.)

After the parks & open space closure I decided I had just had enough and I am not going to let a governor decide my rights as they are given to me under the Constitution of the United States. I contacted a model who is of the same minded thoughts and we headed out. Who needs parks to shoot in? We can still go out in public and long as we follow the rules of social distancing and wear a mask. Let’s make it even more interesting and shoot in the rain, let’s even shoot in a graveyard at an old church.

The meet up would be New Brunswick, New Jersey right in the heart of the town. As crazy as it sounds it never felt so good to be out in the rain with my cameras. We shot for an hour, talked for a few minutes and departed. We never disrupted a single sole; pardon the pun and we captured some nice images and video too.

As I am writing this post the parks are due to reopen and that is a good thing. A good thing that has been brought on by vast protesting in other states. This is a free country and when that is taken away (virus or no virus) people are only going to take so much. At this time there are cases being heard or about to be heard by the courts and I think Governor “Free Stuff” Murphy knew it is only a matter of time before a court order steam rolls him into the dirt.

The virus crisis has changed the world no doubt but, people can change too. People can change to deal with many things and this virus crisis will not define us into being shut-ins and giving away our rights to freedom.

Covid-19 Daze (Loss of an unchanged world.) Part 1

Recently so much has changed in our world. When I say this I truly mean “our whole world” as in our planet Earth as a whole. Never before in our lifetime has an event had so much impact on the whole planet. Often, we make or hear statements about “our whole world changing” and it never really means the whole planet. The Covid-19 crisis has changed so much so fast. Like any critical and tragic event, it takes time for the full impact to set it and be fully realized.

Just the other night I was laying down to sleep and like most people I had various thoughts going through my head as I prepare to end my day for a good night’s sleep. Ha… “a good night’s sleep” is hard to come about these days. As I’m laying in bed waiting for sleep to come my mind is racing through many things. I latch onto the thought of “the planet has changed as a whole” and was truly thinking about it. Sure, we had the 9/11 terror attacks and there was the big tsunami but, this virus crisis is beyond that. And as sleep is coming, I just don’t feel safe and sound in my bed. Sure, my doors are locked and I live in a safe neighborhood but, I still worry about my wife who goes to work each and every day out in the public, I think of other family and friends who are working with the public during this time of virus crisis. I do not personally know anyone who has died from the Corona virus however, I have several friends who know someone who has died, my wife lost a co-worker just yesterday and I just feel it is only a matter of time before someone I personally know will be taken. … I hope I’m wrong.

I pick up on this same bedtime thought after I wake the next morning and I’m dissecting it. Asking myself the question; will things ever be the same? The reality is “no” things will never go back to the way they were before and this is not the first time in history that an event has changed the world as a whole. I was also wrong to think that this was the first time a huge impactful event changed the world in my lifetime. We have cell phones or as they are called today “smart phones” and what about the internet. Both of these have changed the world and there is no going back to the way it used to be. Even if you threw away your smart phone and stopped using the internet you would only be changing your personal world, the little micro chasm that is you as a person.

I think back to my feeling the night before and how I didn’t feel safe, it is actually hard to describe. I guess the best way to describe it is to say that it is just another thing to not feel safe about. We all now have to live with this thought that an unseen force known as the Corona virus is out there lurking. Much as I feel safe with my doors locked and I live in a low crime area… who knows an intruder could break in to my house in the middle of the night and rob and or kill me and my family. Highly unlikely but it does happen, even in a safe neighborhood. So, Covid-19 is just another “not likely” situation but, none the less it is always there.

Then I start to ponder… ok, so if this is not the first global change in my lifetime what is different about Covid-19 compared to other events. I mean after all this virus is killing people. Sure, in the news we see the reporters contrast Covid-19 to the yearly flu cycle (global) and others will put it up against the opioid crisis (specific to certain countries).

In my example I used non-lethal examples such as mobile phone and the internet… and now that I think about the mobile phone did bring about the “texting and driving” epidemic that kills several thousand people each year and maims hundreds of thousands. As for the internet… who knows. Although there are more teen suicides due to cyber bulling. However, any example that is put up against Covid-19, be it more or less in death, nothing has taken the world as rapidly.

As a photographer I have been documenting the changes the virus crisis has made in daily life in my local and surrounding communities. Part of the changes include safe practices like covering our faces and social distancing however; other changes are for the most part pure idiocy and downright unreal. Things such as not being able to take a small boat on the river to enjoy a day of fishing or to not be able to buy a pack of seeds to plant flowers or vegetables for a garden. For me the biggest thing is to not be able to go for a walk or a hike in the forest. The governor of New Jersey closed all parks and while I understand some of the thinking behind the decision it was painted with too broad a brush. Yes, there are large parks in populated areas where people gather in masses even before the virus crisis, there are still other open spaces and preserves that never see masses of people. Trails that run deep into the forests such as the ones I like to frequent fell under this decision and my fun was taken away. If you complain about this closure you are deemed “selfish and inconsiderate” to others. The idea that you may bring unwanted harm in the way of giving someone Covid-19. But I can still go to a liquor store, buy alcohol, get drunk and kill someone by way of driving drunk. Yes, the liquor store is open but, the churches are closed. You can’t fish from a boat on the river and you are not allowed to walk through a forest.

To stay somewhat sane through this whole mess I have still continued to venture out for photography and also now capturing video as well. I can honestly say that I’m doing this in the name of “work” and I of course am practicing social distancing and wearing a mask and shooting with a long lens while doing so.

In this time of virus crisis, the photography business in pretty much nil as in nothing. So, I have turned to looking for editing work online. There used to be a time when photographers had agents to help find them work. Now that is a rather old and antiquated way of finding work. Today there are online agencies where work can be found from literally all over the globe. So, there I sit at the PC searching through the postings and constantly refreshing the page in hopes of catching the latest posting before someone else does. Then once landing a job I am off and running into photoshop to cut a model out of a background for a clothing dealer in India who is selling garments on Amazon and at the same time watching the posting feed to catch another job of fixing a pimple on a headshot for someone to post to their Linkedin profile. I can’t complain because it is work but just in a way I’m not used to.

My mind drifts back to just two weeks ago when I was out hiking with my cameras and thinking how I had found an escape. Even if just a for a few hours, being able to go hiking through a forest where I was the only person there, I was in “the unchanged world.” In fact that is what I titled the video I shot that day “Unchanged World.” Then the parks and open space closures came and changed that world too.

Then after a week or so of that I had had enough and I decided that I would find a way to get out and shoot.

To be continued…

Our New World (A small look at the world outside amid the Covid-19 crisis.)

I created this video for a few reasons. One I wanted to just give glimpse into what it looks like in the town where my wife works. No different than any other town at this time.
I will continue to make short videos similar to this just to document our new world.
However, the message in this video is to show that whille some are obsessed with the shopping for food and supplies there are those who not only don’t have the time for it… the shopping and standing in lines, they just look past it. They are the ones who continue to work in the stores and the supply chain to bring the products and serve the people.
The truckers, delivery workers and medical staff.
My wife has been working 8 to 10 days straight with only 1 day off and then right back at it. Dealing with her job that she actually loves and spending time alone to decompress.

Munn Smith I love more than words could ever express.

Technical Notes: Due to the current Covid-19 crisis as a photographer I have to change tactics and approach shooting documentary photos and videos in a new way. This video was created with a “long lens” a 70-200mm and most all of the time it was at 200mm.

Normally when shooting “Street Style” photography photographers will chose a fixed lens with no zoom because you want to be up close with your subject. However, now with “Social Distancing” being the buzz word of the year being close to your subject is not a good idea.

Yesteryear. (I’m just waiting for the app that delivers your food and pours it down your throat and three hours later sticks a tube up your…)

Old Polaroid Photographs & Memories.

Those scratched and blurry old polaroid’s take us back to yesteryear… to a time when life was much simpler however, we never knew it was simpler at the time. Of course, some things seem simpler today, after all just the act of creating a photo is so much easier than in the days of our youth. So, it begs the question; was life really simpler?

In my opinion; no, life was not simpler in a technical sense. So, is our sense of yesteryear jaded?

But, like me, many people would love to travel back in time if even just for one day.

We all have memories that take us back to happier times in our lives. We also have memories that were not so good. But, for most it is those good memories that we cherish and how we would love to go back and live that day or week or even that one special year all over again.

When we talk about the “yesteryear” in conversation often times the term “things were so much simpler back then.” Now please forgive me for saying this and I am not trying to crush anyone’s wonderful memories “but, no things were a lot harder.” So why do we perceive them a simpler?

Let’s just take a little trip down memory lane and look at just a few things in our daily life that were a lot harder. Now before we get started please know this list could be a long as we want to make it. Why we could write a book that would rival an edition of “War & Peace.” So, here we go…

I already mentioned that it is easier to create a photo today, every phone has a camera. Ah, “every phone” why yes phones are all together different, they are not tied to a wall in our house. Now a phone is attached to your hand or at least that is the way it seems. And the phone is not just a phone it is a gadget that is a computer and connects us to a plethora of information. Certainly, the mobile phone/device has made modern life a lot easier. But enough about phones and cameras.

How about cars and vehicles in general. Practically everything about the car is easier. Now I will admit at first a new car can seem as if it is harder to understand as opposed to the cars of yesteryear. But, after feeling those heated seats on a cold winter morning we’ll overlook the leaning curve the key that is not a key anymore. The feel of the air conditioning on a hot day helps us wash away all the other things we have to sit and take the time to learn about a new vehicle. Then there are all those other wonderful things like airbags, GPS navigation, On-Star, incredible stereo sound, lane guidance and the list of easiness just keeps going.

What about shopping? You don’t even have to stop eating your microwavable mac & cheese, you can just tell Alexa to send you more. Restaurant food delivered to your door… I’m just waiting for the app that delivers your food and pours it down your throat and three hours later sticks a tube up your ass to remove the waste. It will happen and when it does people will flock to use it.

As I said we could go on & on about easy vs hard between today and yesteryear. So why if it is easier today do, we yearn for the days of our memories. Aside from the fact that we were younger what was so nice about yesteryear?

First let me say while life was harder, we did not see at as harder or difficult at all. We did not know the life of today and how easy things are now. We didn’t know things like the ease of creating false restaurant reviews and destroying a person’s livelihood or cyber bulling. Or pausing a movie while we leave the house and resume watching two days later. But yet we yearn for the days of those memories we see when we pick up that old scratched and faded photo.

Now let’s shift gears and look at the reality of the past and the future. Most people think of the past as something pleasurable because they are thinking of loved one’s family and friends who are not with us anymore. Those memories bring us comfort and it washes away the everyday things like, how crappy cars were or that our phone was tied to the wall of the house. The same could be said for when we dream to the future. Dreaming of something about the future is often not what would really happen if the dream were to come true. Examples… of course I’ll give you my take on a few of my dreams that came true. Like that beautiful girl that I longed to be with… how I would see us together walking hand in hand, kissing and having sex and all the stuff that… well it was a dream and yes it came true. Yes, we kissed, we had sex and we really enjoyed being together… until I found out how stupid she was. Stupid is like beauty it is a relative term. However, at 22 she did not know how to cook anything other than a fried egg. If it didn’t have microwave instructions, she didn’t buy it. Her only hobby was drinking beer and I spent most of my free time fixing her car. So yeah… dreams do come true lol.

How about those lottery winners that squander their fortune? Was that part of their dream when they were dreaming of winning the lottery? Yes, I think it safe to say we kind of “whitewash” future dreams the same as we do when we think of the past… at least to a certain degree.

Is it always this way?

In my opinion; no, not at all. As for dreams; dreams with goals attached to them seem to be more realistic. At least in my experience when I had a dream with goals attached, if and when that dream came to fruition it was very much what I expected it to be. But, for looking back at a memory it is all together different, what is done is done and the pleasure of the memory is only on the surface. So, while the mundane of everyday life was certainly harder, we don’t see the mundane in our memories unless we were to sit and actually think about it. Maybe I am different than most because I will often fixate on the mundane of a memory. Take for example the memories I have of my early 20s, I was living with my grandmother and the memories of her are very heartwarming and special. When I hear the theme music to the TV show “Taxi” it automatically takes me right back to Grammy’s kitchen at around 5-6:00pm on a winter’s evening. We would both have arrived home from work and she’d be cooking dinner while I was showering after a day’s work. I can see the gaudy pink & black tile of her bathroom and yes, it is a good memory. But if I dive into it and start walking through that memory my life at the time was not that great. Other than the fact I lived with my grandmother who I really loved, most other things in my life were not that great. I worked at a crappy job for very little pay, I drove a crappy vehicle, and my life was going nowhere. So, while I do cherish the memory of Grammy everything else about the memory is not that great at all. Again, I reiterate that I don’t think everyone digs as deep as I do. I have a good memory and it is also reinforced due to keeping journals and diaries. If it were for those writings, I don’t think my memories would be as vivid lol.

Now I have covered a decent amount of ground in the blog post and I have curtailed myself from using a certain word and that is “nostalgia.” I often cringe a little when I hear this word “nostalgia” because it is usually connected to somebody wanting to capitalize on my memories or on the days of yesteryear. In fact, “nostalgia & classic” are the two buzz words that are used in somehow making money from the days of yesteryear. Usually they (the business world) are aiming to capitalize on a period of time that their customers never actually lived in. Let’s look at the younger generations that were born in the 90s or later. Being born in 1990 would put you at 30 years old and marketing anything “nostalgic or classic” could be a very profitable venture.

I myself have seen teenagers now (born in the 2000s) wearing Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd shirts. One boy I talked to didn’t even know Led Zeppelin was a band, he just thought the shirt was cool (true story). Look at how many people wear the Harley Davidson logo and don’t even own any motorcycle, they just like the logo because it implies the “Biker” lifestyle. And speaking of “biker” lifestyle I can remember a time when that so called “bike” lifestyle mean something a whole lot different. Let me just say it like this… “I remember seeing the State Police escorting biker gangs as they would pass through our area.” “And I remember the fear it created knowing those guys were in town.” I was young so I didn’t really know what it was all about therefore I had not too much fear and I thought they looked cool on their “Harley Davidson” motorcycles. Funny thing is… none them and I mean zero were riding Hondas, Yamaha’s or Suzuki’s. Cut to today you see anybody wearing a Harley logo because they think it is cool. Talk about “whitewashed nostalgia” lol.

At 55 years old I have seen variations of the “bell bottoms” resurface a few times. Auto makers have brought back the names of their muscle cars from the late 60s, while rock bands resurrect themselves (almost literally) and head back out on tour. To be honest I’m not really a big fan of the resurrected rock band thing, because the concerts are most times (but not all) disappointing. Old rockers hiding their “turkey gobbler necks” with the silk scarf while they rasp out an old “classic” hit song that the whole audience is encouraged to sing along with so you can’t really hear the actual performance. I fell in love with the song “Proud Mary” and John Fogerty is one of my all-time favorites. But if you’re going to a Fogerty concert in hopes of hearing a good rendition of Proud Mary… it isn’t happening. Disclaimer: Fogerty actually defies the laws of the aging rocker and he does not wear a neck scarf.

So, in regards to Nostalgia as a market; it is basically the idea that the old times were better than they actually were or in some cases the old time were something they never actually were. And best of all the people buying into it never really lived it so they haven’t a clue lol. I say just let them have their fun and buy into the nostalgia thing because it makes somebody somewhere a lot of money.

 

In conclusion; Are the days of old better? Were the days of our memories a simpler way of life? Or do we just want to believe they were simpler and better? Either way for me it still feels good to pick up that scratched and faded polaroid photo and drift back through the years.

The Day Our World Went Crazy (Somehow we all arrived here at this point in time in the year of 2020)

Everything is going to be ok; you are going to be ok. We are going through a troubling time with the current spread of the Corona Virus (Covid-19). There is a lot of misinformation and a lot people making misleading statements that is causing a lot of anxiety, both personal & public. I do not have all the answers but, I do have common sense. A lot of people have common sense however, anxiety and stress will blind and deaden your common sense. We all know common sense will take you a lot further in life than any highly educated scholar. I’m not knocking education but look at history’s evidence of “common sense.”

As we go back through the pages of man’s existence, we can attribute a lot of our accomplishments to common sense. Somehow we all arrived here at this point in time in the year of 2020 and it was not all due to high education.

When I was in my high school years I lived in a very rural part of the southern part of Virginia. I guess most would call it the “backwoods.” While living there I seen a lot of very uneducated people that my friends back in the Northeast would call “hillbillies.” Call them what you’d like but, what I found were people with a lot of common sense. Sure, they were by definition “uneducated” however they were far from stupid. “Uneducated” is just a label same as the term “hillbilly” is a label. Labels mean nothing about what a person can do or not do.

In times of a real predicament, I will often turn my mind back to where I have come across common sense people in my life. My mother, grandmother and other old sages I have met in my life.

So, in this troubling time just stop and relax, sit and think about where you are and who you are. If you have taken the time to read this far most likely you have a little (hopefully a lot) of common sense.

Look at facts.

If you are a healthy person you will be just fine. Sure, you may get sick but, you will self-resolve as you have many other times in your life that you were sick. This is a fact not an opinion.

Social distancing; certainly not a hard thing to do.

Might I add a little of my own advice; “Social Media” distancing.

I came home today and yeah, I did the “Facebook” thing. Looked at some funny memes, antagonized a few people. Then… I shut it off and I turned on some good music. I have spent the whole evening listening to music and doing little things I like to do in my private time. I like editing video and photos but, for you, you have something that you like to do, everybody has something they like to do. Something that is easy and takes your mind off of the rest of the world.

After editing a video to send to my mother, I then contacted a friend on the other side of the world via email just to say “hi” and tell them I am thinking about them.

Then I though about finishing this blog post. Not really know what I was going to write… I though about how relaxed I feel after such a hectic day. I thought about how relaxing it was to just shut off the rhetoric of the news media, social media and all other forms of BS.

Now as I finish this blog post I am already thinking about my plan for tomorrow. News & weather in the morning for about 15 minutes and again in the evening just to stay current. Social media?… Maybe the same about 20 minutes twice a day and I have had my fill.

Thank you for taking the time to read and most of all be safe, stay healthy and use your power to help the vulnerable stay healthy. Look after your elders.

 

Everything will be fine.


							

Misdirection (…like a car spinning tires in the mud… when in reality you are sitting still no matter how far down you push the gas pedal.)

What you are about to read is my advice to help a new model who is just starting out and needs direction and understanding of what a photographer is looking for in a Time for Print model. Some of this information you may not agree with and that is ok. I base this information on my own experience of working with models over the past several years and many of those models were young men & women who had a dream, they were new and they were lost as to where to and how to start. I would always offer any new model who stepped in front of my camera information that they could carry with them and that I feel would help them as they moved forward on their journey. In fact, there is actually a plethora of information that could be given but, let me start with what I feel is some of the most important information that covers a new models biggest weakness.

Emotion & Expression; I cannot over express this by any means. So many models lack emotion & expression, they stand in front of the camera and look like a ghost or a stick. Other than some times smiling and smiling is a good thing (sometimes) which is a natural thing to do in front of a camera, a model needs to learn how to show emotion. Emotion needs not only be expressed in the face but, also the body. Sounds easy to read it here in words but, if it was really that easy then everyone would be a great model… everyone is not a great model however, I feel anyone can be a great model if they learn how to pose and do it with emotion & expression.

So, now you are asking; where and how do I learn how to pose with emotion? There is no one size fits all answer to that question but… This is what I would do if I was a model. I would first take a serious look at professional models; I mean a serious look at poses and so much more. Choose some models that you like or that you are familiar with and use the power of social media to dissect what they do and how they do it. Let’s just take one professional model to use as an example. Let’s use Coco Rocha. Why Coco Rocha? Well there are a few reasons I am using her as an example. For one she is one of the greatest models of the time we are living in right now. Second; she wrote a book about posing “A Study of Pose” with 1000 poses. That book just didn’t write itself, her and a photographer passionately spent countless hours, days and months on that project. In fact; I have given her book as a gift to models who I feel are worthy and are driven. Third; I am a huge Coco Rocha fan and I would recommend anyone who is aspiring to be a paid model to follow her Instagram. Practically every prost on her Instagram is a modeling lesson if you take the time to breakdown what she is actually doing. She is a master of her trade, and a word of advice; do not ignore a master, whether you like or dislike their personality you should always bow to the fact that they are a master of their trade and they hold a wealth of information, they hold the map of the road you need to travel to achieve your goals and reach your dreams.

Coco Rocha knows how to show emotion and not just with her face, she will use her body in pose with emotion & expression and also at times use wardrobe to help convey emotion into a pose. And of course, she makes it look easy… and of course it is not as easy as it always looks. So, what do you do?  Practice it! Practice being Coco Rocha and if she is not your thing then find a model who is and practice them. It is ok to mimic a professional model when you are an amateur. It takes me back to my younger days when I first started to learn guitar. Like many musicians I would learn a cover song and play it just like the original, note for note. Then in due time once I knew that song like the back of my hand, I would improvise on the lead lines & solos and soon my personal style would start coming through. Do the same with your posing, mimic somebody and keep doing it until you start to develop your own style. And really that is the key thing here “developing your own style” but in the beginning you have no style. By mimicking you can eventually develop a style. When I started out as a guitar player, I would mimic such greats as Eric Clapton and then move on to another guitarist, all while retaining just a little bit of Clapton in my style. So, while I am just using Coca Rocha as an example, don’t just look at her. Mimic her and move on to another model and then another model and so on. Learning only stops when you leave this earth, if you have a passion you will keep learning something everyday of your life.

Tiffany In The Rain

What kind of a model do you want to be? Today there are so many avenues to pursue. Of, course you have the standards like runway & print. However, there are so many more genres of modeling like spokes models, fitness models, promotional/event models and many more. In the beginning most people really don’t know what road to take they just want to get their feet wet in front of the camera and there is nothing wrong with that. So, let’s talk a little more about being in front of the camera because I find that a new model will sometimes be clueless as to what they are supposed to do and not do and what they should know or not know before they step in front of the camera. I’ll run through what I think is the biggest question that usually comes to mind.

“Will the photographer give me directions on how to pose or am I supposed to know how to pose already?” This sounds like a silly question to some but, I found this question to be on the mind of a lot of new models.

Answer: If you are a new model and you have been truthful and said you are new model then I am going to expect that you know very little. I will direct your posing and help & walk you through it. I cannot really speak for other photographers; I can only speak for me. I use common sense; I tell people up front that I have one rule that must be followed and that rule is simply “we must have fun.” If we are not having fun then we pack up and go home. So, the mood is “lighthearted and easy going.” I will give you direction and you will respond; we create a photo and move on to the next pose.

Ah the next pose… Again, this is where a lot of new models fall flat and that is moving from one pose to another or running out of poses after two minutes of shooting. I have found that there are actually a few ways to look at this so let’s dive in here and break it down because this is where some photographers are in the wrong and not the model (in my opinion).

So, here is the setup; It is an outdoor shoot and a photographer and a model are standing next to a very ornamental lamp post on a street corner. The model is new and she will need direction, the photographer will need to move her through the poses.

Nam 1/125 sec at f/3.2 ISO 4000 142mm

 

Ok if I was the photographer in this situation, I would shoot about 10 different poses or angles and move on. It would be about 30 photos and that would be 3 photos of each pose and this is generally speaking, it could be more or less. I typically shoot 3 photos every time I push the shutter button. I do this to account for the model blinking their eyes, lip movement and other natural quirks that can often ruin a great shot. I move on because if I am directing the model, I do not want to bore them, I want to keep things moving along. I want to keep the flow going and if I spend too much time in anyone spot or location, I notice that the model (especially a new model) will start to get flatter than they already are. If I want more shots of that lamp post we could always come back to it, keeping in mind that in my experience “the best shots often come at the end of the shoot” when the model has loosened up a bit.

Now in many cases a new model may be shooting with a new photographer and there is certainly nothing wrong with that. I remember being new to shooting with models and boy did I make some stupid mistakes. One mistake was “not knowing when to move on to a different set of poses or location and I would bore the model and make her as I say “go flat.” Going flat is when he/she just doesn’t respond to your direction as well as they should and often times, they are just getting tired and want to end the shoot but, may not tell you they want to end the shoot for fear of offending you.

Now let’s take a look at the same scenario but with a model who doesn’t need too much direction. Again, here we are photographer and model at this same interesting lamp post on the street corner. The model may be very experienced or she may be an amateur that has a very good understanding of posing. She will run through her standard poses, changing poses after every 2 to 3 chicks of the shutter, she will be moving her body and her facial expressions and freezing them just long enough for the camera to capture. All the while she is doing her thing, she is using the lamp post as a prop and incorporating it into her poses and the photographer should also be changing angles and (in this scenario) I would most likely start moving 360 degrees around the model & lamp post while shooting high & low. In comparison to the first scenario this sounds like a lot of work and we are in this location a long time. In reality it is maybe a little longer but, not by much because the model is going to keep it going and only stopping for things like straightening her wardrobe or removing hair across her face ect…

I have found that when a model is experienced in posing the only direction, I have to give is technical stuff usually related to light or wind direction. I have worked with models who were as I say “a toy, you wind them up and let them go” and they do their own thing and it is like magic.

So, I think that covers the most basic question a new model is thinking about when they first shoot with an experienced photographer. I say this based on my experience with the many new models I have shot with over the years. In asking them questions before the shoot or in some cases when we reminiscing about our first shoot together and the models tells me how nervous they were that day and the stuff that was running through their mind.

As I stated earlier in this post “I try to give people some kind of helpful information they can take with them on their journey.” There is nothing more I love than seeing people chasing their dream and moving forward on their journey to where ever it is they are going. We all have hopes, goals and dreams and aside from “not letting anyone steal your dream” one of the biggest slow downs is “fear and misdirection.” Fear, if you have it, you know you have it. We all fight fear on our own levels. But misdirection is something that we are often unaware of, we are kind of clueless and we don’t even realize it.

Looking at my Instagram feed just a little while ago and I see a few amateur models I follow who are totally clueless to posing and the use of emotion & expression. I truly feel bad for the one girl because at this time she has 325 post on her IG that are all model shots and in nearly every one of the photos she has the same exact look on her face. In nearly every shot she is looking straight at the camera and has the same exact blank look on her face. Don’t get me wrong the “blank stare” could actually be a pose but, when you do it 300 times in a row it becomes sad and it show that she is clueless about posing. Furthermore, it shows the photographers that she is working with are also clueless. Many people today use Instagram to showcase their modeling or photography and will have a dedicated account separate from their personal account. It gives people a place to see your body of work. I can tell you right now that 10 photos are all it really takes to capture someone’s interest in what you do. Someone looks at 10 of your photos and if they’re really interested, they will look at another 10 and that is just human nature. Going beyond 20 photos they are now investigating and not just looking. Imaging pulling up someone’s IG feed and seeing the first 10 photos all taken at different times and yet the model has the same expression on her face in every photo. You give your thumb a fast slide across the screen and spin down through her feed only to stop on another photo with the same exact expression the only thing different is the wardrobe. I know it sounds like I am really ripping on this girl and in a way, I am but, let’s look even closer.

This person is really putting a lot of time into what she is doing, she is planning a schedule, her makeup and hair always look great and in fact her overall look is good. I’m sure she has some sort of hopes, goals and dreams to progress at what she is doing. However, the chances go down drastically when every shoot produces the same exact look every time. You are like a car spinning tires in the mud. Stepping on the gas pedal produces a noise like you are going somewhere, when in reality you are sitting still no matter how far down you push the gas pedal. In my opinion this girl suffers from misdirection and not understanding how to make her images more interesting. Just imagine if she understood this concept… now those 350 images on her IG would look a whole lot better.

In this post I only begin to scratch the very tiniest tip of the iceberg that is modeling and I hope this information helps someone. Remember the only thing more important than you is your dream. At all costs, never let someone steal your dream, for if they steal your dream, they also steal a piece of your soul and you let them do it.

Thank you for reading and god bless.