BetterPhoto Q&A
Category: New Questions

Photography Question 
Kate A. Kramer

Help-Photography Vibes Picture


I am a first time photographer- just like to do if for fun and I entered the I got an e-mail saying that my photograph was chosen, being new I was very excited so I responded and sent in payment for my copy of the book. What do I do now. I have read that it is a scam? I don't want to loose my picture.
Does anyone have any suggestions? I am so upset.
Thanks for the help.

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6/24/2005 4:13:06 AM

Kate A. Kramer   I am sorry, I typed the wrong contest. I entered
I have since read some of the other questions and would like some help. Not like the e-mail spree that made me feeling pretty low about myself. I would just like some advice about what I do now.

I entered, paid and need help. Please don't respond if you are not going to help and you are just going to make me feel worse. I have never done this before. I took some pictures that I thought were neat, entered and now need help.


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6/24/2005 4:57:17 AM

Irene Troy
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/27/2004
  Of-course, by now you are well aware that you were ripped off – sorry that this happened to you. You may get some rather heated replies from your post – try to ignore the ones that seem nasty or blaming. When we are first starting off in a new interest it is so thrilling to have anyone tell us that our photographs are decent. To be told that we have “won” a contest or that our picture will be published is something that many people get so excited about that they don’t take time to check out the company that is “publishing” their work. Ah… we are all so human!

If I were in your place I would probably do the following: Send a registered (return receipt requested) letter to the company stating that you have determined that this is a fraud and asking for your money back. This will not result in any refund, but it sets a process in place. Next, report the company to the Better Business Bureau and your state’s Attorney General’s Office for Consumer Affairs; (address and exact info will be either in your local telephone book or go online and find the info by typing in your state name and attorney general’s office); Next, write a detailed letter about what happened to you then print out copies of some of the conversations here regarding the same outfit – send all of this to a local media outfit and another copy to the national network’s consumer reporters. You can get this info also online from each media outfit. Unfortunately, none of these steps are likely to result in your receiving a refund, but if enough of us complain to enough people eventually these outfits will be investigated and either shut down or at the very least fined. Regardless of what happens, at least the more people who learn of your story and the stories of so many other victims, the less likely it will be that others will be taken in by the same scam.

Keep in mind that you are not to blame, the blame and shame belongs to those who perpetrate these scams! If you need any more help, let me know. I used to do some of this consumer stuff professionally so I have some idea of how things work.

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6/24/2005 8:48:27 AM

Kerry L. Walker   Kate, I am sorry you got taken. It really isn't a scam per se. It's more like a scheme. It is a vanity press. They prey on your vanity and take your money. They do publish a book - eventually - and your photo will be in it. (I have never heard of anyone who didn't get the book.) I don't know if the photo you entered was one of those in your gallery but the real shame is that these are good pictures and they will be printed along with others that are not nearly as good.

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6/24/2005 8:55:48 AM

Irene Troy
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/27/2004
  Kerry, thank you for your clarification. I realize that technically, at least under the legal definition of the word, this thing is not a scam. However, from what I have read, seen and heard about this publishing firm, they twist the truth into a real knot. Okay, so they do, eventually, publish the photos – but, they only do so at the photographer’s expense. In the materials that I have seen they tell you that your photograph is “so well done” that it deserves inclusion in one of their many publications. For a fee (the first tip off that all is not good) they will place your photo in their publication so that the entire world can see what a good photographer you are. Basically, they prey on the gullibility and innocence of people.

I have written for many years. I have even had articles published, albeit in mostly obscure academic journals. Then a few years ago I changed tracks and started doing travel and nature writing. In the early days, just as I was really getting started, I was contacted by a publication that had seen my work and felt that my work was of a caliber that they wanted to encourage. They claimed that they published a twice-a-year guide for the “traveling public”. For a “small fee” they would be interested in publishing one of my pieces. The letter I received was full of flowery flattery – guaranteed to inflate my ego and to make me believe that I had been “discovered”. Fortunately for me, and not so fortunately for them, I knew a scam when I saw one. I followed the steps as I suggest to Kate and, eventually (as in 18 months later) I had the pleasure of finding out that this company had been cited by a number of Attorneys General from various states. The last I heard the owners of the company were being investigated by the DOJ. Now, technically, theirs was not a scam. They took your money, but, eventually, they did publish people’s work. Of-course, the obscurity of their “publications” was even greater than the legitimate ones I still write for! I see this “Circle of Photographers/International Society of Photographers, etc. exactly the same as the company that would have published my articles. It is time that they are exposed for what they are – a vanity press that preys on human need to be recognized, admired and stroked.

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6/24/2005 12:52:15 PM

Kerry L. Walker   You know, the really sad thing about this company is that they really are sleazy. It is a shame that they don't take only the best photos (instead of anyone with the $) and publish a good book of good photos (large enough to actually distinguish what they are). It might be worth paying the cash to get your photos published in something like that. Sad to say, it probably ain't gonna happen. Until then, if someone wants to publish your photos, ask them for the credit and CASH!

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6/24/2005 1:30:47 PM

Irene Troy
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/27/2004
  Hey Kerry,

I just had a brain storm - I think all the BP loyalists should start buying lottery tickets. When we win the big ONE (which one is that again?) we can start up a publishing business as part of BP and every year publish a collection of the best photos from BP members. We could market to new photographers who need inspiration and encouragement and, of-course, market it to our friends, family and other folks. A real book that is - not something that people pay to get into. Of-course, if you win the lottery you might just want to use those winnings to buy the Mark III or something.

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6/24/2005 2:38:32 PM

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