OTM (On Track Modeling)
aka AMG (Alpha Model Group)
Complaint Letters


To Whom It May Concern:

I am responding to Letter #20 by a person who just signed with OTM along with a friend.

You asked if you should still attend the shoot. My opinion is no —even if you do demand the name of the photographer.

I am not a naive person, and I tried to be very cautious about OTM. But at the time I didn't realize what was going on.

You see, I, too, attended their open call. The OTM raved about how I was absolutely what they were looking for, and personally told me I would be working a lot. And people standing around me were like: "Wow! You're lucky: he really liked you!"

Like many other girls who decide to pursue modeling, I have been approached several times by strangers asking if I am a model, or they know someone who can get me into the industry, or claiming to be photographers.

I had never pursued modeling until I attended the OTM open call with my boyfriend. I asked for examples of what the comp cards would look like, but they were NOTHING like what showed up in the mail!

So now I'm stuck with these useless cards, too embarrassed to even send anywhere. By the way, F.I., are you aware after all the money you spend, OTM keeps half of your cards, and gives you the other half to distribute to other agencies?

Another thing is when you go to view your slides, they offer you a modeling agency book —a list of agencies to which you can send your comp cards. Of course this is not for free!

Then they offer you a portfolio...

Can anyone tell me WHY on earth would I need a very, very expensive portfolio as a new model starting out!?

Portfolios are supposed to contain pictures of actual work that the model has done. The way I see it there is or never will be actual legitimate modeling work as long as you are affiliated with OTM.

And like others who wrote I have not heard from OTM since, except for this SPAM/advertisement via email. This is the actual letter:

Congratulations! We are very excited to extend to you the opportunity to attend the International Talent Management Model & Talent Invitational in Chicago at the historic Palmer House Hilton downtown Chicago.
 
As a part of our ongoing commitment to help you in furthering your career in this industry, On Track Modeling has teamed with the industry's leader in scouting and placement, International Talent Management (ITM).
 
International Talent Management is known for its high success rate in developing and placing models just like you all over the country and even internationally. ITM is a very selective organization, and through a submission recently made to ITM, we have received the lists of invited models to attend the upcoming event.
 
Miguel - Elite, NY
"It's great to be one of the first to see the best. I.T. was a very well constructed convention."
 
Philip - IMG, NY
"ITM has been great energy, great group of people, and amazing talent."
 
Scarlett - Calliope Talent, L.A.
"As always, this convention has been wonderful. A lot of great talent. ITM has done a great job."
 
Amy Garbo - Click, Worldwide
"The pool of talent is really strong. I had a great time and looking forward to the next invitational."
 
Scott Trost - First Look Talent, L.A.
"If you do one thing with your career, you should come to ITM. I.T. is a great experience. I.T. gives you a great opportunity to see what kind of potential you have."
 
Jeannine Doerfler - Click, Atlanta
"I've already signed three new models from I.T. ...and that was just from one event!"
 
This is just a sampling of statements made by agents that attended our last Invitational in Atlanta. The success of our last event has been overwhelming. The International Talent Management Model & Talent Invitational offers the chance for you to attend a unique event that is planned to offer to the participating models and actors the most exposure and education available in the industry today.
 
The Invitational consists of three days packed full of workshops, seminars and educational presentations. During this time, you will be placed in front of up to 40-45 of the world's top model and talent agencies who will be traveling in from New York, Miami, Chicago, LA, Dallas, Europe, and Asia.
 
These agents are coming to the event to find new and experienced models and actors to sign with their agencies. The ITM Invitationals have jumpstarted the careers of many models and actors by holding events of this nature.
 
Normally an event of this caliber ranges in cost from $1500 to $2000. International Talent Management's standard rate to attend is $600, but On Track Modeling has decided to partially sponsor the selected participants due to your current status! Your tuition will be only $300 for the full three-day event in front of the leading agencies from around the world.
 
**That's a 50% discounted rate!**
And not to mention it is held at the magnificent Palmer House Hilton in Chicago.
 
We are very excited to be able to offer this to you, and highly recommend that you make arrangements to attend.
 
The Chicago 2002 Model & Talent Invitational will be held November 22nd - 24th at the Palmer House Hilton. This event is by invitation only; therefore you must contact International Talent Management immediately if you wish to attend.
 
Register by Friday November 1st to guarantee your spot at this exciting event.
 
See why I.T. can make IT happen for you! Click www.itmsearch.com for info on upcoming events or www.itmsearch.com/iteventform.html to register online for the November 2002 Model & Talent Invitational.
 
In order to insure proper instructions and rapid registration for our chosen participants, we have designated a representative to handle registration for the event. A representative will be available at 704-688-2102 ext. 5126 between the hours of 12:00 PM and 1:00 PM.
 
If it is necessary for you to leave a message, please remember to leave all applicable contact numbers so that we may return your call promptly.
 
ITM strives for excellence and hope that you agree this invitation is an excellent opportunity. We look forward to seeing you in Chicago.
 
International Talent Management

I am skeptical because during the open calls an OTM rep went on and on about how conventions were in his words "cattle calls," but this letter seems to be describing such an event.

Do you have some advice for me, too?

Redacted Info


Thanks for writing.

You wrote: "I am skeptical because during the open calls an OTM rep went on and on about how conventions were in his words "cattle calls," but this letter seems to be describing such an event."

I had read the same thing about OTM, that they dissed modeling conventions. The author of Letter#5 said: "I was driving down the road and, on the biggest teenage radio station in town, OTM's commercial came on. The ad said: "Are you tired of those modeling conventions?"

Perhaps OTM is not as tired of those modeling conventions as people are led to believe.

I also think you are absolutely right about the photography pricing and portfolio. The pricing of photos by OTM is inconsistent with their abilities. They do events. They are not a fashion modeling agency. They also make money off the photos. Agencies are not supposed to do that.

In some states it is illegal to require photos for representation and in any case it is a conflict of interest raising serious ethical questions.

Reputable agencies which are involved in photography make sure models are not charged for photos until after they work, thereby protecting the models from being ripped off and protecting them from looking like modeling photography scam artists.

OTM does not do this. They do not delay the payment for photos until after the models work. Therefore the models are not protected. There is in fact no protection from them being ripped off.

OTM is based in Charlotte, N.C. Contact the Attorney General in North Carolina and file a complaint if you feel you are the victim of a modeling scam. The Attorney General has already sued a modeling agency which was running a modeling photography scam. See the complaints and news story about Model Select International.

There is a pattern of complaints against OTM on this website similar to the pattern of complaints against Model Select International, but the BBB has not figured out what is going on, or they do not record a pattern of complaints against OTM by consumers. So my point is do not complain to the BBB, complain to the Attorney General. Or if you complain to the BBB, do not only complain to the BBB, also or first complain to the AG.

The AG of NC knows what modeling photography scams look like. He even made comments about them published in the news. If the allegations made by aspiring models against OTM are true, and the AG of NC makes the same conclusion as you guys, why do you think the he will not prosecute OTM the same way he did MSI?

What it is with North Carolina?! There are so many complaints about "modeling agencies" in North Carolina. It's pathetic. There is another company which has the same business model as OTM and into high-price photos. Check out the practices of and complaints against FACE.

Where the hell is the Attorney General of North Carolina?

It's about time the legislators of North Carolina created a new law in NC to match the tough modeling agency laws of New York State, Texas, and Florida. Right now there is no law in NC to protect aspiring models who are repeatedly gouged and abandoned.

Redacted Info


To Whom It May Concern:

After finding your website while looking for OTM's site, I was surprised by the number of complaint letters against this company.

I, too, was approached by one of their scouts, went to the open call, and was later asked to sign a non-exclusive agreement.

All well and good, but then came the part about the photos. I was asked to pay $679 for the photo shoot, and was told that if I paid in full, I got a 'free' leather portfolio.

Luckily, I found your website in time (three business days stated on the agreement) for a refund.

I am off this morning to mail a certified letter to OTM (their requirement for such refund).

Thank you for this website; I feel it has saved me hundreds of dollars and some embarrassment from being involved with OTM.

It is a shame that this company doesn't get a clue, and drop their "photography" sales pitch, and just market their roster like they promised to.

Thank you to all those folks who wrote letters about OTM to this website. I really appreciate it, and hope that my letter can help others as well.

redacted

Charlotte, North Carolina


To Whom It May Concern:

I just came across your website today —unfortunately two days too late.

I signed with OTM Model Management in Philadelphia on Saturday. I can't believe how I fell for this, and I am not sure what I can (legally) do now.

Both my husband and myself were "selected," and we both opted to use their photographer. We paid the first deposit ($162/person), but now want to back out.

There is no way I am putting forth $500 plus for each of us to continue with this agency.

Unfortunately, we signed a "Photography Shoot Agreement," which states that "No refunds will be made on deposits and or payments of cancelled photo shoots."

My question (as silly as it sounds, as there was a contract) is this: Is there any way we can get the money back? Or, since we signed the agreement, is it too late?

I am so upset by these findings —I really believed what this man had to say.

Thanks in advance for your advice. We are going to attempt to call tomorrow.

redacted


Is there a three-day grace period in Pennsylvania? If there is, regardless or whether or not the contract said it, usually the weekend does not count. It is three business days, so that would take it to Wednesday.

The legal or technical term is a "cooling-off period." Consumers are allowed a three-day cooling-off period, during which they can change their minds. It is designed to protect consumers from hard sales pressure, giving them time to think and find out more about the company.

You received hard sales pressure if you were asked to sign a contract immediately after a presentation on Saturday night. They basically asked you to make a commitment before you had time to check them out, either at the BBB, or the Attorney General's office, or online, right?

(The BBB and AG et al are closed on the weekend, so this is why the cooling off the weekend of holidays do not count.)

The cooling-off period information I have read says it must be three business days. If you signed on Saturday, neither Saturday nor Sunday counts. It's Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday.

Check with the Attorney General's office or your local consumer protection agency. Even the BBB. They should know. Ask them if there is a law about a three-day cooling-off period in your state.

Other than that maybe all you can do is hassle the company to get a refund. They have done nothing for you. They have not provided a product or service. You have not wasted their money. They should return it.

One approach could be to focus on their photographer.

"Who is your photographer?"

"What is his/her background?"

"What is his professional experience?" (You want proof, names/publications you could check.)

"Before I spend $1,000, I want to see his/her work. What is his/her website address?"

If they do not provide a website address, or even if they do, ask for his/her phone number. Say you want to speak to him/her directly. (A customer who is going to spend $1,000 has a right to speak with the photographer directly.)

You said you "both opted to use their photographer." Please try and get the name of the photographer, and the website address. Or at least the name. The photographer should be contacted after all the previous complaints. After twenty letters, not one person has provided the name of their photographer.

Redacted Info


I really appreciate your quick reply. I forwarded the information to my husband, and he is going to call this morning.

This is all just quite upsetting, because I consider myself and my husband intelligent people. My husband is very cynical when it comes to this kind of thing, and he is surprised at how quickly he fell for the scout's speech.

We do have the photographer's name, and she does have a small website, and when we asked the scout multiple questions about her "resume," he assured us that she was the best on the east coast.

We weren't impressed with her website, but don't really know how to judge "good" pictures. Regardless, we now realize that $600 for 72 color slides is a rip-off —that's why we want out. I wasn't aware of the fact that normally comp card pictures should only really cost around $300.

We wrote two checks for the deposit, so we are considering canceling the checks. I just am not comfortable with doing that in case OTM uses legal actions against us, when they realize that the checks are null and void.

My husband tried calling OTM this morning, but was sent to the scout's voicemail. Not sure if we will get a call back, and are now concerned that we won't get in touch with them before the three days is over.

Thanks again,

redacted


One person claimed she was avoided when she tried to get through in the past so your husband may not get through. But if you call the BBB today (if he does not get through), they can record the fact you called, and then you have a witness to the fact you did what you could within a reasonable time frame. That way OTM cannot claim you failed to respond quickly enough.

In the case of a very similar company, the consumer sent a refund request by registered mail to prove it was sent within the time frame of the deadline.

You said: "We do have the photographer's name, and she does have a small website." What is her name? What is her website address?

Redacted Info


My husband called the PA BBB who confirmed that the 3-day cooling period is in effect in PA, and said to both fax a letter to OTM and send a certified letter by mail informing them that we would like to cancel the contract, and because of this law, we can do that.

The next step then is to cancel the checks with the bank. I think I remember the scout said they won't cash them until we get our pictures (slides) back.

The photographer's name is Jessica Pursley, and her website is www.jessicapursley.com. Like I said, her pictures looked fine to me, but I don't know how to judge that. There wasn't much on her website, but again, not sure I can judge that.

Thanks again for your info. Hopefully cancelling the checks is enough to keep our money.

redacted


To Whom It May Concern:

Right now I am signed with OTM, and, wow, I never knew there were so many complaints against them.

I signed with them in June of 2001. And I didn't recall until I came to this site, that yes, they did pressure me to use their photographer... saying we had to have a "high fashion" photographer, and then showed us a bunch of comp cards that they considered "useless."

The photoshoot was right at the hotel, and, yes, as many have said, the photos turned out horrible.

I paid $599 for the shoot and another $200 for the composite cards. I was okay with paying for the shoot, since I did sign a contract with them, but the quality was poor, and like many others who wrote, I have done only promotional work.

(They did say at the audition that we would get mostly promotional work, but not to view it as a bad thing, because it would give us exposure.)

Fortunately, I did enough work to pay off the shoot and comp cards, but I haven't done anything since then.

And, yes, on some jobs I wasn't paid till almost a year later. We were informed that it would be that way, depending on how soon the client paid OTM. But it is difficult to not be paid for that long.

I am always keeping in contact with them to see if there is any work in my area. But there is hardly any work here in Milwaukee. They seem to like to use their local models more.

Plus I have an online comp card for which I am paying $19.95/month. I am going to cancel it, since I am now aware that agencies shouldn't be charging for their models' exposure.

Another thing I'd like to point out is that those agencies, such as OTM, like to make it look as if they are legitimate by giving you a list of things to avoid, such as those that ask for a fee up front, or modeling schools.

They even tell you to check their agency with the BBB.

So they make it sound like they are such "good citizens," yet if it is true that they are getting part of the money that is for the photographer, that is exactly what they themselves are doing!

They are getting paid before you even get work... and legit. agencies should only be paid a percentage when you GET work!

I just wanted to point out that just because agencies seem like they are trying to "help" you avoid scams, doesn't mean they aren't one themselves.

Now I have an exclusive contract with "The Agency"; I guess it is kind of a sister agency to OTM.

I am wondering if there is any way to get out of the contract.

In February I got a call from a scout from The Agency saying that they really think they could get me a lot of work, and that they would like to do a photo shoot with me in Charlotte, NC.

She said that if I could find a way down there, I wouldn't have to pay for anything, and that they would have a place for us to stay.

I asked several times to make sure we wouldn't be paying anything, since my husband and I are pretty poor.

She said after I asked her several times, "We won't ask you to pay for anything up front." (That should have given it away to me.)

We coudn't really even afford to travel that far, but since the shoot was supposed to be "free," we decided to go.

When we arrived, we found that because my husband came along, we weren't allowed to stay at the home they were providing for the models who came out.

On the phone I was told my husband could come! So, we ended up paying for a hotel. Then, we find out that the photo shoot and composite card would be $675!!

The president told us not to worry about it, that they would take it out of the money I would get from the clients when I got work.

About a month after the shoot, we got a bill from them in the mail expecting us to send them the full $675 if I wanted representation!!!

I wrote them a letter expressing my frustration about the fact that they lied to me, and that because of our financial situation, we couldn't afford to make that payment.

I also said that I was told they would take the money out of what I made from work, and that I expect it to happen as it was told to me.

The booker I keep in contact with said that she would hold off on the payment and give the letter to the president.

I still haven't heard from them.

Right now, I have an exclusive contract with them for two years, and I really don't want to be stuck with an agency that is not going to be getting me any work.

They send a newsletter every month, and recently we were told that we need to check in every week and send in six polaroids of ourselves every month so they can keep their clients updated.

Do most agencies ask for something similar?

I haven't been able to afford a Polaroid camera, so I haven't been able to send them in, which may account for some of the reason for not getting any work.

I also have braces, which I know will limit my work for a while, but they should come off in spring, and they told me it didn't matter, "just don't smile."

Some of these scams are very easy to fall into. I thought I knew a lot about what to avoid. I have been able to avoid a lot, but unfortunately, I fell for some things too.

Right now, I have been working with some quality photographers on a TFP (time for print) basis, and have been getting some nice photos for my portfolio.

My husband works in the printing industry. With the photos from the photographers and my husband's background in design and printing, we have been able to make comp cards a lot better looking than the ones I have received from the agencies I am signed with. So, we will see what happens...

If there is any advice you could give with regard to The Agency, I sure would appreciate it.

Thank you for this site. I am going to forward it to some of my friends who are trying to get their children into modeling, etc.

Sincerely,

redacted


Why does the issue of photos always come up in discussions about OTM?

You said: "The photos turned out horrible."

This is not so much about your experience as the experience of others, because you basically accepted their photos ("I was okay with paying for the shoot"), and I am not here to take OTM's side, but I am going to make one point which no model has made which needs to be made.

Models are ripping on the photos, complaining about the quality, blaming OTM. But is the photographer on staff at OTM or not? The only photographer mentioned by name so far does not appear to be an employee of OTM. Therefore should models not complain to the photographer?

OTM has to accept some responsibility for the photos, especially if they make money off them, and they do, according to one model and their president, but first and foremost this issue has to be taken to the photographer.

If you are presented with promotional material including examples of comp cards, and you find them to be satisfactory, but then the pictures the photographer takes you find to be unsatisfactory, i.e. not at the level of the sample cards you were shown, you should complain to OTM about the advertising and complain to the photographer about the image quality.

Now as a model you really don't want to be cutting a check for photography and giving it to an agency. You really should be dealing directly with the photographer to avoid giving an agency the opportunity to mark up photography prices. Or at the very least, please ask the photographer for their rates, so you can know if the agency is trying to make money from the photography.

You have to get the name and website address of the photographer who is going to take your pictures. Do not just go with "our photographer" when OTM says they are the best on the east coast. If you get the name and website address, and even a photo studio street address, you can deal with the photographer after the pictures are taken. Don't just settle with dealing with OTM.

For example, in the case of the last photographer mentioned, she has a website address and an email address on the site. If she were to take your pictures, but you were not satisfied, you can deal with her. You could at least email her.

You said: "On some jobs I wasn't paid till almost a year later."

That is not right. It is not fair and it is not right. It is not normal in the modeling industry or in promotional "modeling." It sounds like Communist Russia.

Either one or two parties is to blame. It is either OTM or OTM's clients. Which is it? OTM has claimed it is their clients. Really? Why not call the clients and ask if they paid? Ask them when they paid. Then you will know if OTM is holding out on you.

Quite frankly, I would bet more than the amount the model was expecting to be paid that the clients paid at least within three months.

Why do I believe that? For more than one reason: 1) the clients are not poor (at least one was a billion-dollar company); 2) the promotional jobs are not very expensive; and, 3) it is not normal for agencies to be paid a year later.

Agencies are just another business. Business is business. It doesn't matter what industry. Thirty days is standard.

You would have to wonder what type of clients OTM has if they pay a year later. Is OTM not able to find clients who pay in 30 days? Or are they unable to apply due pressure to get their clients to pay up on time?

OTM is the only agency for which this site has received complaints about late payments, and it is not just one person, at least a few models made the same complaint.

Is there a labor law which requires payment within a specific time frame?

To put this in context, because models appear to buy into it, without any reference point, in the state of Florida, for example, talent must be paid within days of the client making payment: Agencies must pay talent five days after receiving payment from the client.

All money collected by a talent agency from an employer for the benefit of an artist shall be paid to the artist, less the talent agency's fee, within 5 business days after the receipt of such money by the talent agency. No talent agency is required to pay money to an artist until the talent agency receives payment from the employer or buyer (Florida Statute 468.406).

Call several reputable agencies and ask them how soon they get paid by the clients and how soon the models are paid. And if you are serious about signing up with OTM, by all means ask them before you sign up and pay for photos what is the latest you will receive payment for promotional modeling jobs.

What really must be frustrating for models is signing up with a company paying up front fees, getting low quality pictures, getting very little work, at very low wages, and then to top it all off... getting paid a year later. That sucks!

You wrote: "Like many others who wrote, I have done only promotional work." If you have only done promotional work and the others have only done promotional work (I don't recall anyone saying they did anything besides promotional work), why must the photographer be a high fashion photographer, or even a fashion photographer?

("They did pressure me to use their photographer... saying we had to have a "high fashion" photgrapher.")

Ironically, Joel Wilkenfeld, President of top New York model agency Next Model Management, which does have high fashion models, who do get high fashion modeling jobs, said photos for new models should cost no more than $300.

A legitimate agency does not charge money to be a model. You may pay for some test pictures, but it won't be more than $300 for the entire shoot and everything.

You said: "Right now, I have an exclusive contract with them for two years, and I really don't want to be stuck with an agency that is not going to be getting me any work."

If you don't believe they are going to get you any work, would it hurt to ask them to void the contract? What is the worst that could happen? They keep you from getting work? How is that different from what you were expecting?

An exclusive contract seems to help the agencies more than the models, because it prevents competition with other agencies.

But it only helps the agency when it is getting the model work. If they are not getting you work, what have they got to lose from voiding the contract? It would appear you both are in a similar situation in that you both have nothing to lose.

Every exclusive model contract really should have a clause which gives the model an option to renegotiate or cancel the contract if the agency has not found the model work by a set period of time from the date it is signed. That is fair business. It keeps the model from getting stuck in a dead-end business relationship.

For instance, say you sign a two-year exclusive contract. If the agency has not found you work within 6 months or 12 months, you can either terminate the contract or the exclusive part is removed, i.e. no longer applies.

So you would still be able to get work through the agency (if they found it), but you can also get additional representation with other agencies, so they can try to get you work, too.

In smaller markets models should seek non-exclusive representation from multiple agencies. There is so little work, if you are only represented by one, you may never get any work.

It is very important to take contracts seriously, but they are not cast in stone; they can be renegotiated or cancelled.

Usually models try to get out of model contracts when another agency is courting them, and/or they feel they could earn more money through another agency.

Many years ago, John Casablancas lured many models away from their agency because they felt he would get them much higher earnings. He did, but of course it really upset the agencies as you can imagine.

If you cannot come to an agreement with your agency, and decide to break the contract, it could return to haunt you, if the word gets out. Other agencies will wonder if you will break your contract with them and choose not to sign you.

Your options are basically three: 1) wait out the contract, 2) renegotiate the contract or ask to end it, and, 3) break the contract and sign elsewhere.

Read the entire contract again and see if it has any provisions which will allow you to exit. If there are none, you could ask to sit down or speak with your agent.

State the facts. Tell them you have not earned anything through them; and they have not earned anything through you. If there is nothing clear in the immediate future as far as work, which will benefit you and them, you can ask them if the contract can be voided.

Unless agencies are going to be fighting over a model, there is no point in the model signing an exclusive contract. Always demand from the agency why they want the contract to be exclusive. Make sure you get a solid answer before you sign. "We are sure we can get you a lot of work," as your story shows, is not really a solid answer.

If an agency has upfront fees for photos, and they want the money before the model works, the model could get the impression and feel pressured to pay upfront fees for photos in order to get any work —especially if the contract is exclusive! There you have a possible reason for an agency wanting an exclusive contract.

Redacted Info


I will keep your advice in mind about the two-year exclusive contract. I will wait for a while after I get my braces off, and if they still don't get me work despite me keeping my portfolio with them updated, I may consider trying to get out of the contract.

Thanks for bringing out that they aren't really being benefited, either. I didn't think about that.

I am a bit wary of the possibility that breaking the contract could give me a bad reputation, but I guess I will just have to feel this one out.

Thanks for the suggestions.

Sincerely,

redacted


To Whom It May Concern:

I just recently read the message written by the president of OTM (Letter#3).

I paid OTM $599 for a photoshoot and $200 for composite cards. Total: $799.

Yes, it is true that we weren't forced to use their photographer. They said that we could use whomever we wanted, just to make sure that they were fashion photographers, but they really emphasized that we would be better off using their photographer.

For those who have never been in the modeling industry, they don't realize that you can find decent photographers elsewhere, and many don't know whom to find, or where to look. So it is much easier just to go with whomever the agency is suggesting.

But when the quality of the photos turns out bad, you question them.

My photographer was OTM's Rita Clonts. I don't know if she is an actual employee of OTM or not. I just know that the quality of the photos was bad, and I personally didn't like her ideas for posing.

And at the time I didn't realize that you should only pay around $300 or so for photos. $599 is steep.

And no, you aren't required to buy composite cards, but what's the point of getting a photoshoot if you don't get composite cards, which they need to represent you?!

redacted


To Whom It May Concern:

I am very, VERY glad to have found your site before I was able to give any money to this "agency" who identified themselves as "OTM" (On Track Models).

They stated they had offices in Charlotte, as well as a couple of other cities.

First of all, let me tell you a little something about myself. I am a 20-year-old model and currently represented by a reputable modeling agency.

I attended this OTM thing in Minnesota, along with my cousin, who's just getting started into modeling. I am also looking to broaden my modeling horizons, so if I liked what I found, I thought, sure, I'd love to add another agency to the list to represent me.

The first discrepancy I noticed was the radio ads. "DON'T BRING YOUR MONEY! WE JUST WANT YOU!" and their over-willingness to reiterate a thousand times: "WE ARE NOT A SCAM." "We don't want your money," the chipper man with a southern accent clammored.

In the initial hour-long informative meeting, they went through the basic know-how of the modeling industry, i.e. what types of models there are, etc.

They also pointed out other such modeling "scams" —like schools, et cetera.

This was obviously designed to gain a rapport with the audience —to make them feel as if this was the Real Deal, as opposed to all those evil SCAMS out there.

On the way out, they did "mini interviews," at which they'd decide who makes the initial "cut."

You'd then call the next day at the alotted time, and they'd tell you whether you "made it" or not.

Well, I did, and I came the next night.

There were about 20 people in the room. Then, we were primed. We were told we were the "chosen" ones, based on what they believed our marketability was.

Here comes the "money" part they said to "leave at home" in their initial ads.

The sca* is in their so-called professional "photographer." Basically, they put you under, extremely, EXTREMELY high pressure to use THEIRS, for only what?

About 700 dollars. For this, they said, you'd get 3-4 looks, a makeup artist, and a photographer whom they bragged up to epic proportions.

The second option wasn't brought up until I asked the question myself: "Do you HAVE to use their photographer?"

The woman seemed miffed.

You can find your own, but there are some pretty hefty guidelines they employ. The photographer HAS to be a licensed "professional" fashion photographer.

This of course was said after extreme (and I mean extreme) discouragement of finding your "own" photographer.

"I can tell you," the man said, "you will not find ANY better deal with a professional photographer."

Then they threw out estimates —2,000- and 3,000-dollar figures, so the $700 would sound cheap by comparison.

It was simple. We were asked if we were going with their photographer or not. Those who did had a prompt polaroid taken and were asked to stay. They were told they could begin finding them work "right away." These were done deals, they didn't even have to worry about this workshop deadline.

(The "workshop" is something we're all supposed to be called back to meet for in a month in which they teach us how to 'model.' This, they said, was free.)

And those who went with their "own" photographer got a big "O.P." [Own Photographer] scribbled upon their folder. Then we were asked to leave.

"I can tell you what we do with these," this woman said, holding a pile of "O.P's." She threw them on the ground. "Only TWELVE percent of people who say they're going with their OWN photographer return."

(Well, I wonder why.)

She was making it seem as, if, suddenly, because of the simple fact that we wished to use our own, we weren't "serious" about modeling.

That isn't even the best part. You are to bring the "copyrights" (if you go with your own photographer) to the pictures —which means a great deal of slides.

Apparently, if they're not exactly what they're looking for, if they're not "high fashion" enough, if they're not on par professionally with their "chosen" photographer, guess what —you're not admitted to the workshop. Buh-bye, they tell you, come back next year.

Their whole spiel was to make us, the beginning model, think, "These are PROFESSIONALS here!" They're not just gonna send "crap" (their word) comp cards to THEIR clients. Oh no, only the best.

One more note: the lady who said she'd "scrutinize" our slides? She listed no other credibility other than that she's "been in the industry for years" and "can tell crap when she sees it."

Oh, they don't like "crap" now, do they?

I'd be willing to doubt she has any photography experience whatsoever.

On a side note, if you presented her with photos from four different photographers, two "professional" high fashion and two portrait photographers, I highly doubt she'd be able to tell which was which.

I myself have been scammed before and am sick of people being ripped off.

Another tip off of its lack of credibility: they became extremely defensive when a few people in the crowd began suggesting it was a scam.

"If you don't think I'm a hundred percent, there's the door," the guy said boisterously.

I was about one of four who decided to not go with their photographer, whose work, I might add, looked like a terribly overhyped amateur was behind it.

The chick was very rude to us, too, but only to those of us who didn't intend to give them a damn penny.

There were other discrepancies, but I know this letter is getting quite lengthy. If I can convince one person out there not to do this, the time I spent writing it will be of value.

Here's a tip to starters: you get your own reputable photographer, you get some good headshots, and you mail them out to agencies who are in good standing, who will respond (and NOT ask for your money) if they like what they see.

Thank you,

redacted


I had contacted you some time ago about OTM. I was just writing to say you can sure as hell put my letter up now.

I had let you know about their whole "process," and after finding out I wasn't going to give them $700+ to go with their rinky dink photographer, they didn't even contact me again, which ruins their credibility completely, in my eyes.

I was going to bring my cousin who wants to break into modeling with me that night, and now I'm glad I didn't. All they are is a waste of time.

redacted


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