Archive for ‘review’

August 11, 2011

On Integrity & Professionalism

Recently, I was slapped in the face with one person’s unprofessional behavior and dishonesty.  What’s more is that after expressing my disappointment in the situation, the offending party showed little remorse.  However, another person involved has shown what true professionalism & integrity are, which lessens the sting… sorta.  Here’s the story…

It started with a verbal agreement regarding compensation for working an event.  A few weeks before the event I was told (in person) that compensation would be $50 for the day, a selection of images for portfolio use.  I was also told I’d be in the designer’s catalog.  As an added bonus, I’d get a sketch of me in what I was modeling.  Typically, my rates are $50 an hour or $325 for an 8-hour day, which is how I’d have billed it since it’s cheaper.  However, because I’d be getting portfolio images & a tear sheet (plus a cool sketch), I made an exception and accepted the job at a significantly lower rate than normal.

Fast forward to the day of the event.  Call time was 12P & everyone was on time & ready to start getting to work.  In the beginning, things were running nicely, people were having a good time, & it was shaping up to be a great event.

Around 3P we started getting hungry, but there was no food.  Based on previous experiences, I expected there to be food provided at a 7-hour event, so I just brought a drink & a small snack.  Now, I wasn’t expecting caviar & chocolate mousse, but something to snack on throughout the course of the day.  Veggies, pretzels, cheese cubes, & sliced fruit are pretty typical of events because that stuff can sit out & is easy to eat.  But there wasn’t anything.

Normally, one would ask the person in charge what was going on, but he stepped out for an undetermined amount of time, leaving his event coordinator & assistant completely in the dark regarding wardrobe & accessories.  That meant that the models that were ready to shoot we weren’t able to, so 2 of those girls took a walk to find food.  Their options were limited at 3P on a Sunday on the Near West Side of Chicago & all they could find was Chinese, which they brought back.

As we were eating, the guy in charge came in & immediately reprimanded us for having food.  He told us we were unprofessional for eating food that wasn’t “proper model food”.  He then demanded it be put it away & said we shouldn’t be eating, but that if we were hungry we should’ve been eating something like fruit.  So, apparently, everyone should have just gone without food for 7 hours.  Talk about a morale-killer!  Besides, nothing makes people enjoy an event more than crabby models with no energy, or worse, models passing out because of low blood sugar.

If someone running an event wants his staff to eat certain things, it is up to him to provide that kind of food.  If he can’t provide food, then the professional thing to do is notify people that there won’t be food, & ask them to bring their own, limiting it to whatever he finds acceptable.   It is not unprofessional for models to eat behind the scenes, while waiting for styling and/or instruction, while still dressed in street clothes.

But then came the real knife-twist.  Shortly after the food was put away, we were handed a compensation agreement & asked to sign it.  It was different from what I’d been promised.  Suddenly, we had to choose between $50 for the day or 10 unedited images & 1 edit of the photographer’s choice.  No mention of the sketch.  I tried to ask the guy in charge a few questions, but it was pretty clear he was too busy to listen to me.  So, I sat & thought quite a bit about things, & really weighed my options.

If I walked, I’d have wasted almost 4 hours for nothing, literally.  No photos, no money, no sketch, no tear.  Leaving could’ve damaged my reputation with the other industry people who were there, & I’m not one to back out on my commitments; I act like a professional & respect people enough to stick with something once it’s started.  So I chose to stay, keeping my reputation intact & getting a little something for my time.

So I had to choose: a small amount of money, or one edited image.  I figured I could work with the photographer individually if I really wanted to, so I opted to take the $50.  Broken down, it’s $7.14 an hour.  If you factor in the $8 or so I spent on food & drink (which I wouldn’t have bought if I wasn’t working), the total compensation drops down to about $42.  Basically, I worked the day for about $6 an hour, & that’s not even factoring in the gas I spent on the nearly 60-mile round trip.

It bothered me that the compensation changed, & I wasn’t notified in advance.  I wasn’t even notified promptly at call time, which is when I would have been comfortable leaving.  Advanced notification of the change would have been the professional way to go about things.  Instead, it was just sprung on us nearly 4 hours into the day, when we’d already invested time & money.  But, I sucked it up & did my job as if I was getting paid my standard rate: with a smile on my face & without complaint.

After the event was over I asked the guy in charge about the sketch.  He acknowledged that that was, indeed, part of our deal & made a half-assed attempt to find it.  After a brief search, I was told he couldn’t find them, & that was that.  So no sketch now either.

Initially, I intended to just deal and learn from my mistakes.  But later I decided that if I didn’t speak up, no one would, & this schmuck would go on taking advantage of people because no one called him on it.  So the next day I wrote him a letter addressing all my concerns & asked to be compensated as originally promised.  I chose my words carefully & made sure it was written in a concise, professional manner.  I didn’t just pound out an angry note and send it off.

The next afternoon, I received a response.  He said that an agreement was made, but things didn’t go as expected, so the agreement was modified.  I signed it, & if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have been used for the event.  He went on to say he was sorry I wasn’t happy, but the only thing he could do was live up to the written agreement.  Then, he had the gall to tell me that a lot of work went into the event, & he felt congratulations were in order.  He also thanked me, as if that would make it better, & told me that if I had a change of heart & wanted to work with him again, I should let him know.

Then, he called me not too long after responding.  I told him it wasn’t a good time because I wasn’t ready to speak with him, & hung up.  After careful consideration, I wrote him back & said that any discussion could be done in writing, as he had made it abundantly clear that he didn’t respect people enough to honor his spoken agreements.

He wrote me back the next day & said there’s nothing to discuss.  Shortly afterwards he posted on the private group for “preferred” folks involved in the event (which I am still part of) telling everyone, “Don’t ever believe that I don’t appreciate you all.  I am so glad that I choose each & every one of you to be a part of this journey.”  Uh huh.

There is a lesson here, though.  From now on, I will ask for a compensation agreement in writing, in advance, for every event I am booked for.   Upon arrival, I will not do anything without reviewing any paperwork that needs to be signed, & if that paperwork does not match up with what I received prior to the event, I will be leaving.

This might limit who’s willing to book me for events, as well as whom I choose to work with, but I’m ok with that.  I am tired of being taken advantage of, & I am no longer willing to allow it to happen.  If that means I book less events, then so be it.  As a hobbyist, I can afford to be picky.

I heard he “changed the agreement” when it came to numerous other involved parties, so the models weren’t the only ones who got screwed.  To top it off, it’s all just pouring salt in the wound, because everyone who worked the event was asked to promote the event through various means, invite friends, & really hype it up (and many of us did).  Some people’s names are attached to this person’s, and who knows what kind of effect that could have down the road.

Then there’s the true display of integrity & professionalism I mentioned at the beginning.  The photographer involved called me last night & we talked.  He had been unaware, & completely beside himself, that the person running things was using his product to pay people & that we were forced to make a choice so suddenly.  To “make it right”, he has offered all of the models involved a shoot at no charge.  He’s not comfortable providing the images from the event to the models, because it would violate his agreement with the event host, so he’s doing what he can to do something for us as a “thanks, & I’m really sorry you got screwed over too”. Yup, you read that right… he also got screwed.

So now what?  Well, I’m going to stay in touch with the photographer & start thinking about what I want to shoot, & communicate ideas back & forth with him.  Ideally, I’d like to shoot something he can use for his portfolio as well, because it’s only fair.  Chances are, I’ll wait until late fall to work with him, mostly because I’m sure he’ll be busy with previously booked work as well as with the other models involved.

A few people I’ve talked to about this have suggested I take legal action, because the “bait & switch” tactic he pulled could be illegal.  I’ve decided it’s not worth it to bother with screwing around with that, especially for such a small amount of non-monetary goods.  Chances are, this person will get what’s coming to him.  Word of unprofessionalism like this gets around fast in the modeling industry, as people don’t appreciate busting their asses to work with people who lack the integrity to honor their promises.

One can only hope that this person has the decency to not treat his paying clients the way he treated his staff.  I can’t imagine working with someone on what amounts to one of the most important days in your life & dealing with some of the unprofessionalism he exhibited.  Hopefully, when dealing with actual clients, this person is honest, sticks to his word, & is professional enough lets clients know if circumstances change & he cannot deliver as promised.  If I were in the situation to be working with him as a paying client, I most certainly wouldn’t take the chance.

I will definitely not be working with him ever again.  This person’s utter disrespect for the people he hired & abundant display of unprofessionalism has completely, totally ruined any chances of that.  I will continue to leave his name on my credits list in hopes that people contact me to check references.

UPDATE! August 30, 2011

I did finally get a money order for the $50 that I was owed.  I had to ask for it though, and was told on August 25th that the check had mailed the morning of the 24th.  I let this person know that it would have been nice to know of the delay, since the agreement said checks would be delivered by the 21st and not mailed on the 24th.  This is the response I got regarding that:

i didn’t mean to make you feel small. I appreciate you.

I told him, “Appreciation doesn’t pay the bills. Not that that matters, because going back on your word and not notifying people you’d made agreements with until well into the event doesn’t say “appreciation”. No, Robert. THAT says “I don’t give a crap about you and expect you to just be a doormat and accept it”. Nice try. I expect my check to be delivered by Monday the 29th. I’m giving you way more leeway on this than most people would…”.  Yes, cold and a bit heavy-handed, but frankly, I don’t care.  No one deserves the kind of treatment he has shown, and I’m not about to sit quietly and let him think that treating people the way he has done is ok, because it’s overwhelmingly not.

This was his response to me on the 25th, verbatim:

When i say I didn’t mean to make you feel small, I really was trying to let you know that you’re acting soooo small and UNPROFESSIONAL.

But you were even too small to even have caught on.

Now I’m BLOCKING you. And that’s what’s nice about facebook.

What ever it is that happened to you to make you so emotional is just not everybody else’s fault. And if emotionally you can’t handle life, go to doctor and get help, but whatever you do, DO NOT SLANDER OR HARRASS ME.



Wow.  And yet I’m the unprofessional one, for desiring to be treated respectfully and compensated as promised, and for being the “squeaky wheel” in making sure that promises are delivered upon when the source has proved to be unreliable.  Right… anyway…

My money order came August 29th.  It was dated August 26th, two days after I was told “the check’s in the mail”.  It has been deposited.  Largely, I am happy.  I hope, however, that this person has learned that he can’t get away with treating people like shit.  If, that is, there’s anyone left in the area who’ll work with him…

May 2, 2011

I love pie. And this team.

Every once in awhile a team gets together and consistently creates great images.  Which is awesome, but sometimes, you all need to step outside your comfort zones and try something new.  That’s what Christian Carlson, Christin C and I did on Saturday.

We started out with a set I’m calling Eyes, Lips.  Christin used her skills as an artist to not only flawlessly do my makeup (and hair), but place an eye on one hand, and a lip on the other.  Christian busted out his gels and we shot a beauty set that was way different for all 3 of us.  Here are my 3 favorite shots from the set.


But then things got crazy.

This concept started out in my head just as a wardrobe idea, and was inspired by various people and things (songs, actually).  I made the “Diva” shirt, the earrings, and gathered a bunch of accessories together after getting inspiration from music artists Ke$ha, Dev, and P!nk.  When I sent Christin my wardrobe ideas, she came back with this mask idea, and I managed to find a material that worked for it.  She also had this great shot that involved Silly String, which we decided we wanted to include.  I also found large sequins at Hobby Lobby, and snagged those (glitter would have been way too hard to clean up, and may have just looked like dirt in the shots, which wasn’t what we wanted).  I brought a few empty cans of AMP as well.  The set evolved from just a musically-inspired set to one that evoked thoughts of having been out all night partying.  Which, thinking about who I drew inspiration from when it came to wardrobe, works well too 😉 LOL

Anyway, after the first set, Christin and drew on the mask I’d cut earlier in the week while Christian broke down his backdrop and re-set his lights.  And then we drew on me.  And then we piled on the accessories, tied on the mask, and started shooting.  I’ll just let the resulting shots speak for themselves…




Somehow, we managed to get them to be a little editorial, as well as a little crazy.  I feel like we were channeling a lot of different people here, and it kinda just… came together wonderfully.

This was, quite possibly, one of the most fun shoots I’ve ever done.  I have laughed on shoots before, but never this hard.

I think this conversation we had while reviewing pics sums it all up perfectly:

Christian: Wow… this looks like the set of a porn or something…
Christin: Yea, but it’s so awesome it makes me want to shit rainbows!!
Rachel: Christian, did you ever think you’d hear that about your work?

Check out the team’s Facebook Fan Pages, and LIKE THEM!

Christian G. Photography
Christin C Makeup

January 22, 2011

Changes For Someone Else In 2011

Good friend and photographer Laura Ann has rebranded herself for 2011.  As she’s the one who’s image is gracing my header here, and I’ve written about her before, I figured I’d share her new website and Facebook fanpage.

Laura has gone from being “Laura Ann Photography” to being “Fleur de Lis Photography”.

Her new website:
Fan her on Facebook:

Laura not only works with models, but does great family and senior portraits, as well as shoots some incredible wedding work.  It’s been a pleasure both working with her as a model, as well as watching her grow as a photographer.  And she’s one helluva a friend too 🙂

Hey Laura… do you hear that?                                                                              BEEP BEEP!

October 13, 2010

Hey, that’s me!

Robert Tolchin, who was one of the very first photographers I worked with back when I started modeling, recently launched a new website at  He sent me over a link and told me to check it out.  Not only is it a great-looking, clean website, but there are a couple of pictures of me!  I most certainly didn’t expect to see myself both featured twice, and as photo number one! 🙂 Thanks Robert!

Also, Walter Belinski of Studio B Photography also recently launched a redesigned site, where I’m featured in numerous sections.  Walter and I work together a lot, and have a great time doing so.  Walter also works with Studio 2, one of the places that has hosted workshops for my MeetUp Group (Walter’s instructed numerous times as well).  Take a look… see how many different looks I’ve had and how much variety Walter and I have shot 😉 Thanks to you too, Walter! 🙂

Chicago models, I highly recommend both Walter and Robert.  Both are great photographers to work with!  They definitely know what they’re doing and are genuinely nice guys, easy to work with, and super professional.

June 10, 2010

fokusfoto (via the art of nude, and other things)

I thought this blog was worth sharing with my readers. It involves a photographer in the Washington DC area who has, for some time now, been scamming models out of money, and quite possibly putting them in danger other ways.

There was recently a post on MM by one model who was stranded in a hotel after being robbed of all her cash, and not paid as promised, leaving her with no money (and no CC, because she doesn’t have one) to pay for the hotel room, and no way to get home to her kids.

Edit: Saw this in the modelmayhem forums tonight, not sure if the thread will stay up or will be locked/hidden so I wanted to post the info here. WARNING…..PLEASE BEWARE OF JIM (FOKUSFOTO@GMAIL.COM) Also know as Jim Hines and Jay Hanes Pretends to work with a female photographer named Jami: Here are some links he may send you with “His Work” No … Read More

via the art of nude, and other things

ETA: London Andrews, a well known nude/glamour model, has also blogged about this guy.  Read her take here:

Update: There are photos of him posted here

April 21, 2010

Shoot Results: Ice Falls

A couple years ago a local photographer started shooting nudes at the frozen waterfalls at Starved Rock State Park in near-central Illinois.  One of the things that bugged nearly everyone who saw his shots was that the always had the models in boots of some kind.  His argument, when this was mentioned in critiques, was that a barefoot model would stick to the ice.

Enter local photographer Greg Kolack, who agreed with me that that wouldn’t be the case.  So we planned to shoot at the very same frozen falls, with me going barefoot.  I wouldn’t be nude, but we agreed that a black leotard, short tights and a flowy skirt would look great there.  Greg and I also agreed that instead of standing in front of the ice falls, I’d dance as well as interact with them however we saw fit once we got there.  We planned and planned, but for nearly 2 years we couldn’t get our schedules (and the weather) to cooperate.

Things finally worked out this past February, early in the month.  Because I’d had so much time to plan, I did a little research and found FootUndeez, which are lyrical dance “shoes” that slip over the ball of your foot and places a suede pad between your foot and the ground, providing a bit of extra traction.  They’re designed to not show much and not cover the entire foot.  I picked up a pair figuring the traction would be a good idea, that the tiny suede pad wouldn’t make much of a difference with the cold, and that worst case, there might be minor photoshopping to be done to remove some lines.

When the day finally rolled around to shoot, Greg and I met in Joliet and carpooled to Starved Rock from there.  It was a beautiful crisp sunny winter day with temperatures in, I believe, the 20’s with minimal wind, which was optimal.  I brought a blanket, hand warmers, heavy-duty winter boots, and wore lots of layers, because although it wasn’t super-cold out, we’d be hiking for quite some distance to get to certain falls.  Under everything I wore my leo and tights, so that changing would be (relatively) easy.

Anyway, we shot in two locations, with the first being slightly disappointing because the water wasn’t frozen enough to cross, meaning we weren’t able to get up close and personal with the specific falls, so we had to alter our idea slightly.  As anticipated, the FootUndeez didn’t make a difference when it came to the temperature, but definitely helped with traction on the ice.  Worth noting, however, that when I put my heels down on the ice, there was no danger of sticking to the ice at all.  Even at the second location where I went right from hiking to standing on ice, I wouldn’t have stuck if I was 100% barefoot (though I would definitely have slipped and fallen on my ass).

The second fall was 100% frozen up to the two columns of water though, which made us happy.  There was also significant ice at the base of one of the falls, where the column had broken and fell due to higher temperatures the week prior. The only downside to being able to get up close and personal with the falls was the fact that there was still running water on the inside of the columns, which managed to splash its way outside of them, making both the columns and the ice around them very wet.  Wet ice means not just slippery ice, but also higher temperatures.  When your hands and feet are dry, they react less to the cold and it’s easy to temporarily forget about it.  When they’re wet, it’s hard to do that because they get very cold very fast.  It’s also much easier to slip and fall if, say, you’re climbing around large ice formations, even with the extra traction from the suede pads (which most certainly lessened when the FootUndeez got wet).  Good news is, I wasn’t hurt when I fell (though I did have some wicked bruises), and the placement of where I was when I fell ended up working out haha!

After shooting, Greg took me to dinner where I had a few cups of coffee to warm up, fried pickles, and a grilled cheese sandwich.  Nommy!  Good news is, I left Starved Rock with all fingers and toes in tact, yay! 😉 In fact, I didn’t even go numb until the very last set, which was surprising given my suspected Raynaud’s Phenomenon.  The next day, I was sore as hell, both from the movements I was doing (despite stretching, though I think the cold affected things as well) and the fall I took.  But it was so worth it!

Anyway, here are some pics!  I’ve pulled the color ones, though I have nearly all of these shots in B&W as well.  There are more than this, but these 4 show off all of the various locations pretty well.  You can click all of the thumbnails to view the full web-size shots.  All of the below shots are copyright Greg Kolack.

The top right shot is location number one, where I danced at the top of an active fall.  There was a bit of bare rock there that was perfect, and the photographer shot from down below.

In the second shot (top left), I’m down near where the photographer shot the first set from.  The water there was frozen 100% solid (and 100% clear, which was neat) in some places, so I stood on that as well as on some of the rocks there.  In the shot above, I’m standing on the ice.  You can see where I was in the first shot in the background.

In the bottom right shot, I’m standing next to one of the two columns of ice.  You can see part of the incredible hollowed out rock at the base of the pool.  If you look close, you can also see my reflection, as the ice I’m standing on there is rather wet.

And in the bottom left shot, I’m actually sitting in part of the ice formations made as a result of a combination of the fallen ice and the new ice that froze when the temperatures dropped.  This is one of the shots that was taken after I slipped and fell in the formation itself (I was, at one point, standing in there).

All in all, I’m very pleased with the results, and plan on making up a few prints to hang in the house (once I make up my mind).  And yes, I’d do it again… in a heartbeat 🙂

If you’d like to see more of Greg’s work, check out his ModelInsider portfolio or his ModelMayhem portfolio.

August 14, 2009

Trash The Dress: Sneak Peek

Went out for a rare after-work shoot with Walter.  The week before I’d run into Jack from Studio 2 Photography here in Lake Zurich and he mentioned Walter wanting to shoot some trash the dress stuff.    Jack was actually, at the time, searching for wardrobe for the studio at Goodwill 🙂  I check there every so often for wardrobe as well, but was actually there with a good friend helping her find some stuff for an event she was working.

Anyway, while at Goodwill, knowing I’d be doing this trash the dress set, I found two great dresses, which I bought for just shy of $12 total!  We used them both for the sets, and they shot beautifully!

Working with Walter was, as usual, wonderful.  We work really well together, and always have a pretty good time 🙂  This was a quickly planned shoot that worked out wonderfully despite less than a week of planning.  Helped that it was literally a couple miles from the house… but Walter’s really easy to communicate with too, so that helps a lot!

Here are 2 of my favorite shots (of what I’ve seen so far) from the shoot. Click each one to view it larger.

They were both shot in Lake Zurich–one of them literally 😉  Good times!!

July 6, 2009

Weaning Myself Off Hiatus

And doing so with a bang!

I shot Thursday evening with one of my favorite photographers, Ron of Wolfdreamz!

Thanks to Summer Hours at work and the holiday weekend, I got to leave work at 2:30P, which meant Ron and I started shooting relatively early (around 6P).  🙂  We hadn’t shot in quite some time, because our two schedules just didn’t mesh and I was taking a bit of a break.  But now I’m back! From outer space!

:blinks:  Wow.

Anyway, we, as usual, really pushed our limits and created some kickass stuff.  There was a ladder involved, thigh high boots, and just all around awesomeness! 🙂  I’ve got stuff chosen already, just haven’t had time to get them up yet.

I hope everyone had a wonderful (and safe) 4th of July holiday weekend!

Oh, and my shoes?  Didn’t come in time 😦  Oh well.

June 10, 2009

Photographer Review: M. Carle

Back in March I worked with Mariah Carle, a professional nude model turned photographer.  She was visiting Chicago from California, and we decided to work together while she was in town.

Working with Mariah was great!  Before the shoot, she treated me like any normal client, and not just like a model.  She not only listened to the ideas I had, but gave me some of her own ideas and shared her experiences with me.  Between the two of us, we were able to create absolutely beautiful images we were both really happy with.  We emailed back and forth and talked on the phone a couple times to ensure things were going to run smoothly.  And they did.

The shoot itself was great.  We not only got great images, but Mariah made sure that I was happy with what we were shooting periodically, and didn’t move on until we both were satisfied.  She made the shoot fun too, and shared some tips with me she’s learned as a model.

Anyone in her area should hire her.  She’s beyond worth what she charges!  And not only does she take wonderful portraits of humans and pet portraits that are absolutely fantastic, but she shoots boudior too, for those of you looking to spice things up! 😉

Check out Mariah’s regular work at and her boudior work at

And for those interested in seeing some of what we shot together, here’s a sample (click to view larger):

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