Thomas E. Schmuki Photography

Phone: (954)439-1999 Email: tesphoto3@gmail.com

My Trip to North Carolina on a Motorcycle - Episode 1

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The few faithful followers and readers of my blogs will know that motorcycling is and has been in my blood for many years. I guess you could say it is almost a drug to me.  I have also mentioned in my blogs and in my BUCKET list posts riding my motorcycle all over the United States and even possibly the world is ON my list.

A quick reminder of some of the reasons I love motorcycling so much:

  • The tremendous feeling of freedom

  • The ride is like riding in a convertible car * 10. Why? More visibility, more vulnerability, more, more more. I know I owned a white mustang convertible GT. A car I loved to drive. Why did I sell that one?

  • The sound of the Harley. Nothing compares to that sound. I often turn my loud radio off just to hear the beautiful sound of the RUMBLE

  • The LEAN. Don’t get me started. You cannot LEAN in a car. One of the main reasons I will resist getting a 3 wheeler until my health demands it.

  • The silence

  • Time to reflect, enjoy and believe

I love being spontaneous rather than planful in my NON business life.  This drives my family and friends (?) nuts. Many times for the longest period of time I would go out in the garage, start up my motorcycle and pull out in the street not knowing yet where I was going to go.  My first thought is NORTH, SOUTH, EAST or WEST.  My next thought is how long do I want to drive, hours, all day or even potentially over night.  I have gotten on my motorcycle, thinking I may take a 1-2 hour drive and end up driving to Key West (213 miles and good 6 hour drive) and spending the night or even just having lunch and riding back the same day. Many of these decisions are made after getting on my motorcycle.  

My trip on my Harley Davidson to North Carolina was not much different than previously described.  Not planned, not well thought out, not knowing where I am going to stay, how long I am going to stay, and not really even knowing the weather at my proposed destinations.  For the first time in my life my non planning strategy sort of bit me in the fanny.  

I knew I wanted to go to visit two places to visit family and loved ones.  Family I may have not seen for years.  My son David and my 2 1/5 grand children…grandpa, that must sounds wrong lives in Fuquay-Varina NC which is just south west of Raleigh Durham.  My sister who has a lot more in common with me than we ever knew. Tina lives in Rockvale Tennessee which is about 1.5 hour drive south of Nashville.

I packed up my Harley Davidson, and loaded it with as much camera gear as I could fit.  I had hopes that perhaps I may do some professional shoots along the way. My Harley was LOADED, and probably over-loaded with weight. I noticed immediately while driving how the bike responded differently and had a slight if not prominent front wheel wobble because of the weight or the “inproper weight distribution”.

My Harley had just been fully serviced approximately 1,000 miles ago. 

I had not even decided which destination I would go to first well into my first day of travel on my Harley.

My brother in law Robert Cranfield warned me before going on the trip to look at the weather report because the weather was unpredictable and “dicey” this time of year in Tennessee.  Not to worry I thjought,  I have ridden in many a snow storms in Colorado and Utah.  I am tough, I can handle it, and surely if anyone knows how to handle a motorcycle in wet/slick driving conditions it is me ….

Off I go from Delray Beach Florida.  Weather is beautiful, almost too hot to ride in blue jeans and boots.  Feet up on the extended foot pegs, listening to my favorite rock and roll music, sun rising to my right (East).  I am OFF. Time to enjoy the LEAN of the motorcycle.

We will find out I should have listened much more carefully to my brother in law Dr. Robert C.

Stay tuned for episode #2. It gets much DICIER from here …

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The struggle between honesty, transparency, and marketing

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This may be one of the most difficult blogs to compose, and perhaps even more difficult to read.  Family and friends, please do NOT be offended by my brutal honesty in this BLOG.  Hey, it may be my last blog depending on the results.

A previous peer who I have not heard from for maybe 25+ years, fellow co worker and friend who has been silently following my works, my blog and my photography reached out to me yesterday.  Reggie thank you for reaching out to me after all these years.

Reggie was very complimentary of my photography and my commentary, and even my blogs.  Her comment haunts me … “I see a touch of sadness in your words, but thats understandable ….”

I learned a lot from her commentary.  First of all, I just may have followers, silent ones who read my words, appreciate and admire my photography, and perhaps even enjoy some of it.  Based on the lack of clicks, read throughs, and commentary, I always assume no one is seeing, no one is reading, and this whole thing is just a platform for a personal/public journal that only generations in future may see. Perhaps I see it as personally therapeutic.

My next door neighbor yesterday stopped her car while I was washing my motorcycle and told me how much she enjoyed and appreciated my journalistic commentary and photos of my motorcycle trip to North Carolina.   Again, I had never known she was watching, stalking from afar so to speak. It made me happy.

To get better context to my commentary, you may want to read or review the following blogs:

The Shy man with a Camera

https://tesphoto.squarespace.com/blog/2018/8/16/the-shy-man-behind-the-camera\

My Birthday Wish

https://tesphoto.squarespace.com/blog/2018/9/11/my-birthday-wish

Ten things you probably don’t know about me

https://tesphoto.squarespace.com/blog/2018/9/17/ten-things-you-probably-dont-know-about-me

The moment you find out your child is schizophrenic 

https://tesphoto.squarespace.com/blog/2018/9/21/the-moment-you-find-out-your-child-is-schizophrenic

Five things you probably don’t know about me

https://tesphoto.squarespace.com/blog/2018/10/14/5-things-you-probably-dont-know-about-me

Yes Reggie, you are 100% correct, there is a tone of sadness to my prose.

So back to the title: The struggle between honesty, transparency, and marketing 

I have always known from day one that one of my biggest flaws is my transparency.  I tell the truth, my face and expressions tell the truth, sometimes it is brutal and hurtful.  This transparency made me a great manager and boss in almost any arena.  I would be quick to compliment, be thankful and get in the trenches with my staff.  This transparency also comes at a cost in business and in all areas of life both personal and professional.

Here it is: I struggle with sadness and depression, and have for years.  I can hardly remember what it feels like to wake up each day with a smile on my face.  I blame no one or nothing for my struggle nor my feelings.  It is NOT your fault.  This is the one thing I know!  For me depression is loneliness.  It does not matter if I am physically alone or in a crowd of dozens or hundreds of peers, family or friends.  I work very hard every day, every moment to mask this loneliness and depression.  

My motorcycle ride to North Carolina was done alone.  No family member wanted to go with me.  Hey, they are the smart ones.  The ride outside of Florida was miserable, lonely and COLD!

What makes me happy?  It is very simple.  Feeling truly appreciated.  Feeling I have provided something of real value to someone.  Something that lasts more than the “click” or “like”.  Photography makes me happy.  Not the specific click of the camera, but more about the experience of the shoot and most importantly the value of the product I created. I yearn for my work to be valued in a real way.  I ache to leave a legacy of work that will be cherished by generations.  The reality of falling far short of those expectations is part of my daily struggle.   

This commentary is the opposite of marketing.  It is 100% truth.  Those who read this will probably agree with Reggie at even a higher level.  

I ask if you silently read my blogs, or silently view my photos, please once in a while reach out to me and let me know.  It has more meaning than you will ever know.

Tom

Retirement Month 1 - Where did the 30 days go?

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So how is your retirement going?  Thought you would never ask.  

My last day at Motionpoint as a full time software development manager was Friday October 5th.  I would say, I went out with a whimper.  A number of my fellow developer peers took me out to lunch at Santos Japanese Steakhouse.  All you can eat.  My office was empty and I gazed at my computer for the last time. I realized my career in technology as most assuredly over, unless of course I get an offer ai cannot refuse ….

Don’t forget my retirement was retiring from working for someone else for a “steady” paycheck.    I am certainly not at the stage of playing dominos at the park in Hollywood beach. I am not even ready to play tennis, golf, or ride motorcycles every day.  I am ready for 24x7 photography.

So lets start with what I did do during the month:

Studio shoot with Dylan Pinnell.  This was so fun and I am positive Dylan is off to a very exciting and promising career in modeling.  

Christmas Mini Sessions at Delray Beach Country Club.  A great experience.  I photographed 9-11 families and had a glorious day.  So fun, the kids came in dressed to the nine, new hair cuts and beautiful smiles on their faces.

I was then invited to be the photographer for the VIP Emergency Management reception at the Wyndham Hotel in Boca Raton.  Thank you Samantha Jay for your confidence in my work and the great experience of photographing some of the most influential leaders and educators in emergency management.

Just a few weeks back I was invited to be the photographer for KK Swimwear’s BIMINI photo shoot.  So much fun, and such a great experience.  Natalia Garcia, your designs are incredible and you are such a joy to shoot with.  Samantha Guiterez and Sofia Trujillo such poised and talented models.  Not to forget one of the most talented makeup artists I know Virgina Velez.  This was a whirlwind of work with no time to anything but pull the trigger on my Nikon.

I then took a trip to Halloween Horror Nights in Orlando Florida.  This has become a tradition for me and my daughter Allison.  I got some great pictures that night and did not even get sick, perhaps the first time ever for me at an Orlando theme park.

I followed up the night at Orlando with a studio shoot at Adorn Studio in Ocala Studios with models Abigail Coquilla and Xiomy Canela.  This was a very fun exercise in how many looks and scene changes can we squeeze in to the 3 hour time slot at Adorn Studios.  I think the results were fantastic.

Last but not least was Halloween itself. I had so much fun photographing my neighbors in Delray Beach.  I think I surprised my neighbors with something new, exciting and worth while for the participating Halloween walkers.

All that being said, I look back at my first month of retirement as spending 90% of my waking hours from 7:30-11:30 at night in front of my computer.  Editing pictures, creating business plans and strategies, marketing, etc.  I thought I would get away from the 40 hours at my full time regular job and 40 hours in photography.  Now it is 80+ hours in photography, and way too much time in front of my computer.  This needs to change but fast.  Perhaps more motorcycle rides, tennis, and maybe even a round of golf or 2.  


— tom

Halloween Horror Nights - pictures and commentary

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Going to Halloween Horror nights in Orlando Florida (HHN) has become a tradition with me and my daughter Allison.  Does it become a tradition if you have done it 3 or more times?

The trip to Orlando from Delray Beach is about 3 hours or less if I drive like Mario Andretti.  For all those who know the drive on the turnpike to Orlando, it is a boring one.  Nothing to really look at one the road but sawgrass, flatlands and road kill.  Always have to keep an eye above for the cops in the SKY in fear of a TICKET sent in the mail by the sky rangers.  Yes, they do that in Florida, I know someone who got a ticket from sky patrol cop.  How they can peg your speed limit, and read your license plate from the sky is a “wonder of technology”.

Lets get real here, Orlando is all about theme parks.  They are every where.  You have Disney’s Magic Kingdom, Universal Island of Adventure, Universal Studios, Disneys Hollywood Studios, Seaworld,  Epcot and many others.  As a general rule I HATE theme parks.  Firstly, you pay oodles of money for travel, tolls, parking, tickets to the park.  Once you are in the park, it is normally extremely HOT, HUMID and you wait in lines for 1+ hour per ride in the scolding HUMID heat.  Everyone is sweaty, stinky, kids are crying and miserable.  Finally you get on the ride, and it is over in 2-5 minutes.  On to the next ride.  Worse yet, with my motion sickness and slight vertigo problems I get very sick after even the first ride.  FUN, FUN, FUN.  Also I must mention the price and quality of the food in the parks is mind boggling. $12 slice of pizza? $15 hamburger? these are not gourmet offerings they are bland, tasteless and hurt every $2 bite. This is why in the past I dropped the family off at the parks and played golf on the glorious golf courses of Orlando.

HHN, was massively crowded and the scenario I just painted was pretty much the same, but because it was at night time the climate was totally tolerable and almost NICE.  So as a good DAD, Grandpa, OLD FART as I am, I sat on the sidelines as Allison went on her favorite rides.  In the mean time I took pictures of the cast of characters at HHN.  I also attended a fantastic show as well as my climax of the evening was going to the STRANGER THINGS haunted house.  I am a Stranger Things fan, watched every episode of every season.  Hated it when the last season ended!  This place was awesome.  The character actors looked just like the real ones on the show. The coolest room was the room with the lights on the wall and the mother hacking away at the wall with an AXE.  Was very realistic and very much like the real show.

Allison insisted we stay till the bitter end; 2:00 am.  So we did.  The final picture of me in front of the Universal Studios Globe was taken on our way out of the park.

So do I recommend HHN?  A thumbs up for me.  My recommendation is to go on OFF nights and early in the season so it is not so crowded.

Now, to establish more traditions….

Tom


Five things you probably don't know about me

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A number of people have told me their favorite blog was my “10 Things you don’t know about me”. Well, here are 5 more

  1. I was asked to try out for the Donny and Marie Osmond show as a backup singer. I was not interested in being anything but the LEAD singer with mike in my hand and a whole band around me.

  2. My generation is the first generation in the USA without a mandatory draft to fight in a world war or major war. I missed the draft of the tail end of the Vietnam war by the skin of my chinny chin chin. My father fought in World War II in the Navy on a destroyer. He observed fellow ships go down and watched dozens if not hundreds of sailors get eaten up by sharks in a feeding frenzy as their destroyer went down to the bottom of the ocean. His ship was hit by multiple Kamikaze planes and my dad to this day rides with his Purple Heart license plate from his Kamikaze war wounds - shrapnel right in his derriere. He can’t talk about his experiences in the war, too painful much like I cannot talk about the loss of my son Eric. His ship was very similar to the picture posted in this blog. My grandfather Augustine Schmuki fought in World War I. 

  3. For the real techies out there I started programming in Oracle version 3 with a release date of 1981. To install Oracle Development version I had 70-100 CD’s to install, one by one, only to find out # 48 of 70 is bad, have to order it and start all over when it arrives. My how times have changed.

  4. I grew up using a rotary dial telephone. My first cell phone was a Motorola Brick. Motorola’s first cell phone cost 4-5 thousand dollars and had about 30 minutes of talk time. For the record that first phone was NOT the Motorola Brick, but was more like the Motorola Elephant! I just purchased Apples new iPhones 10s max that has more processing power than many main frame computers I grew up staring down in the raised floor data centers. Motorola dominated the cellular phone market for years, and my kids have never even seen one.

  5. I played tennis with Bjorn Borg once during the inaugural year of the Tennis Champions tour. I enjoyed surprising him with my play.   Ok I know he was just toying with me. For those who don’t know who Bjorn Borg is…. He is a Swedish former world No 1 tennis player widely considered to be one of the greatest tennis player of all time. He won 11 Grand Slam singles including six French Opens, and five consecutive Wimbledon Championships.

There you have it. Hope you enjoyed it.

Tom

Retirement Day 1 Oh My

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For those who have been interested in or annoyed by my count down to retirement.  It is officially here.  I am typing this BLOG on Tuesday, my second day off from work.  Here are some of my feelings and emotions.

Money

I realize every penny I now spend may not be replaced by a “regular” pay check.  My whole psyche of spending and saving money has already changed.  No more buying a new car and or motorcycle every 3-6 years.  No more going out to lunch every day and spending on average $15 including tip.  Soup and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches a flashback from my college days. This is currently my prevailing thought over the past few days.

What I would love to do:

I would love to fill my time with everything about photography.  Taking photographs, teaching, mentoring, learning and documenting.  Travel the world and somehow make enough money in my photographic work to pay for a good portion of that travel.  On my short list of hopeful places are: Orlando, Saint Augustine, New Orleans, Chicago, New York, Denver, San Francisco, France, Italy, Dubai, India, Thailand, China, Australia, Hawaii, the MOON.  Just checking to see if you are still reading.

Hobbies other than photography that I love and hope to fill my time with:

Motorcycle Riding

Maybe an across the country trip that may take months to complete. Trips to the Florida Keys, Tennessee, North Carolina are absolutely going to happen.  Time to visit my son David and my 2 and 1/3 grand kids in North Carolina and my sister Tina in Tennessee.

Tennis

Time to play again, I have beautiful courts right at my house in Delray.  Never even played there in the 2 years

Golf

My PING golf clubs are calling me and soon I will be out on the links, SPF 100 included. FORE!!!!

The GYM

I actually enjoy working out, mostly aerobics, but I most definitely need to do sorting like YOGA, I am SOOOOO stiff I can hardly bend down to tie my shoes lol. Now DROP and give me 50!

Videography

I am going to get deep into the video side, including editing.  I want to be a better video editor than I am a still photography editor.  DRONES, here I come.  I am looking for a mentor and teacher to get me some flying time as soon as possible.

Bicycle Riding

I mean Road Bike riding.  I have done this many times in my life and once I get back into it, I will be wheeling it around on my bicycle at places like A1A right in front of Trumps Mara Lago in West Palm Bech.

Cooking

Yup, I actually love to cook.  Problem is, it makes me FAT!

Thats my short list.  Hit me up and let’s do these things together!

Tom


My favorite places to ride a Motorcycle

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It’s the Journey, NOT the Destination

It may be surprising to many that I am an avid motorcyclist.  Fact is many people are surprised I ride at all.  I don’t look like a motorcycle guy:  no beard, no tattoos, no pony tail, and I don’t normally have a can of beer in my hand.  I have  actually ridden some sort of motorcycle since I was age 14 even though I never really looked like a rider.  There have been times I have been without my favorite transportation and times when it was my only transportation.  

Most of my riding in the last 30 years has been in the southeast and of course primarily Florida.  As my future retirement unfolds, I hope to travel to many new and exciting places on two wheels.

There are certain places or environments that make motorcycle riding more enjoyable.  Those include but are not limited to: the weather, the view, the traffic, the twists and turns (straight is way more boring), the slopes and or hills (flat is MUCH more boring), the music, the sounds, the silence, the companionship meaning other riders on their own bike or a partner on the back of mine. 

This blog will focus on a few of my chosen special riding routes.  Remember my opinion is also based on the combination of the above factors during the rides I have taken.

  • Key West: Interstate 1, favorite part is 7 mile bridge just southwest of the city of Marathon

  • A1A between Lake Worth Florida and West Palm Beach, Donald Trumps Mara Lago is always interesting to look into

  • Miami to Key Biscayne - Bill Baggs Lighthouse park at the end, State Road 913

  • Miami to Miami Beach - South Beach via MacArthur Causeway.  You may have seen my video from GOPRO helmet

  • Homestead Florida to Everglades National Park via State Hwy 9336.  One of the best rides in South Florida, lots of twists and turns and a perfect pace for a motorcyclist.  

  • On Florida’s WEST coast, Sanibel and Captiva Island via Sanibel Causeway

  • Orlando to Leesburg and Mt Dora via 441 - a beautiful drive with some nice hills and twists

  • Daytona Beach to St Augustine via A1A- beautiful coastal scenery with a great destination - St Augustine

  • The Blue Ridge Parkway (Smoky Mountains) - North Carolina

    • Tail of the Dragon - 11 mile section with 318 turns

  • Colorado Rocky Mountain National Park

That is my short list, my actual riding list is MUCH longer.

Now that I will be retired as of October 5th, 2018, hit me up, lets RIDE.

The Motorcycle LEAN

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Only a few will understand this short BLOG.  If you have ridden a motorcycle or a CAR on a racetrack that is actually “sloped” like Daytona Speedway you will get this entirely.

I mentioned in a facebook post that what I like about motorcycle riding is “The LEAN”.  Riding a motorcycle down a straight roadway involves no lean and therefore all the other joys of motorcycle riding come in like freedom, wind in your face, power, vibration, rumble, road noise and of course my rock and roll music blasting LOUD.

I am particularly focused on the LEAN. When I take passengers for a ride it becomes apparent right away if they know how to properly lean on a motorcycle.  Its like they FIGHT the turn instead of naturally leaning with the bike.  A proper turn of the motorcycle normally entails a LEAN and then a slight turn of the front wheel by the handle.  As a matter of fact, the turn feels much more like a LEAN than a turn of the wheels.

Want to really have practice on the LEAN, ride the Tail of the Dragon in the smoky mountains in North Carolina and Tennessee.  318 curves with some close to a 300 degree pivot.  You better know what you are doing if you are riding there.  Many a biker have gone done.  I found the hardest turns are those where the slant of the road is opposite the turn of the road.  This makes the lean and the turn of the handlebar even more complicated and fun.

There you go, nothing about photography, go figure.

Tom

The moment you find out your child is schizophrenic

Tom Schmuki3 Comments

This blog entry will be very personal and only the strong should read. Your opinion of me will probably change in a negative way as you understand my words.

I think my BLOG is more like a personal journal that very few people read or care about. It allows me to put in words my thoughts and feelings, and I have hopes that others may benefit or enjoy reading it. I have a wife and 4 living children and I am confident not one of them has read one of my blogs even though I have recommended it.

This entry may be more of an introspective on “who am I” or maybe more importantly “why am I”.

My son Eric was born March 9th, 1984 in Denver Colorado. His mother was my previous wife Marilynn. I remember the day he was born like it was yesterday. I saw the most beautiful child on earth. My heart and soul was full of love and happiness. He was beautiful and perfect in every way. I felt so blessed.

We moved from Denver to Miami Lakes Florida when he was still in diapers approximately 33 years ago. I moved to Florida primarily because of two things, year round golf and a wonderful job opportunity in a start up Stock Broker Dealer called Investacorp. I became nearly a founder of the company and a major contributor to the real success of that company growing it to one of the largest privately owned broker dealers in the country.

Aside from work, golf was my passion. I took Eric out with me as soon as he could swing a plastic club. He was a natural from day one. I taught Eric about the game I loved so much. By the time he was a junior in High School he was nearly a scratch golfer. That means he shot around 72 every time he played. I was his only teacher. We played and practiced together nearly every day. Eric had aspirations of becoming a professional golfer, and I could not be more proud.

Eric was approximately 14 or 15 years old when his mother and I divorced and he then lived with his mom in Orlando during his school time and with me every other weekend and during the summer.

By the time Eric began his junior year in High School things seem to start to change with him. His dedication to golf, school and life seem to be diminished each passing day. I had hoped it was just a phase he was going through. Eric played on the high school golf team but fell off a golf cart and broke his arm and was unable to compete with his school.

Eric was able to get good grades in school because he was a smart kid. However, I never saw him crack open a book and study it for his school work. School and golf became less and less important to him. He started “hanging” with the wrong crowd.

Golf, school and college no longer were important to him. Somehow he decided to go to the University of Central Florida (UCF) in Orlando. His mother Marilynn supported his decision to live off campus his freshman year which I totally disagreed with. I am pretty sure the kids he was hanging with in college at his off campus apartment were “bad” kids. Drugs, alcohol, etc, were acceptable. We found out deep into his first semester that he was failing all his classes and was not even going to any of his classes.

Eric was becoming Non-Eric month by month, day by day. We had noticed a dramatic change in his personality. Very long story short, we received a phone call from a policeman in Orlando stating that he had Eric was in jail and he was stating that he was driving crazy, was drunk or drugged, and was going to take his own life. After a few visits to the psychiatrists and psychologists he was diagnosed “Paranoid Schizophrenic.” That was the day my life changed for ever. I will never forget it. I kept remembering the day he was born, so perfect, so beautiful. I remembered all the fantastic days of golf we had and his aspirations to become a professional golfer. This had all dramatically changed. I soon realized the diagnosis of most 19 year old boys with schizophrenia meant he would not live until he was 30 years old. I guess I at that moment knew it to be true. He lived until he was 28 and died in his sleep in his mothers home in Orlando just over 6 years ago. My heart and soul changed forever. My ability to love and be loved was now a thing of the past, never to be changed in the future. I became hopeless and frankly to this day feel that way.

Just to give you context of how our conversations went between 19 and 28. “Dad, I know mother installed a camera in my tooth and the whole world is watching everything I do. Just tell me it is true and I will finally trust you and believe you.” He described an entirely different world, very similar to the movie starring Richard Crowe A Beautiful Mind. It is like Eric lived in a 3rd dimension. I had to see this, observe this and father this for nearly a decade before he passed.

After all the good I had done in the world including serving a mission for the Mormon church, I had now realized there was either NO GOD, or HE had nothing but pain and anguish in mind for me.

I still want to do good. I still want to make people happy. I still want to create a legacy. My artistic photography is my conduit for that. I wish I could say I do photography for myself, but I would be lying. I do it for others. I hope to make them happy. I want to give them something that no other photographer can or will. I want it to have a lasting value for them and their family. I want someone else to be happy. I want to create a legacy of at least one thing I did right in my life. Something that lasts beyond my existence on earth.

I understand it is way too important for me to feel appreciated for my work. I cannot tell you how many times I have said to my photography clients …. “I hope you like it…” They have no clue as to the context of where I am really coming from.

Now you know what is in my heart and soul nearly every waking moment. I am not proud of it, but it is what it is.

I had lost my golf partner and I have not played since.

Tom

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Ten things you probably don't know about me

Tom Schmuki2 Comments
  1. I played the cello in junior high school, and quit playing because of PEER pressure

  2. In High School I went dancing every Saturday night.  Loved to dance with the “wallflowers”.  They were better dancers. My friends would only dance with the best looking women.

  3. At 15, I was a golf caddie (A rated) at Lakewood Country Club in Colorado.  A very fancy golf course with snobby, rich, Bentley driving members.  Sometimes I carried 2 big bags at once for 18 holes (4.5-5 miles) up and down the foothills of Colorado.

  4. I swore (cussed) once in my childhood and my mother washed my mouth out with soap.  I can still taste it to this day.  Perhaps this is why you don’t hear me cuss, except for when I hit a bad shot on the golf course.

  5. I am a father of 5 children and a grandfather of 2 1/3.  My oldest son Eric died over 6 years ago.  My youngest son Ryan is 14 and is now attending High School.

  6. I went to Brigham Young University on a vocal scholarship and sang everything from classical to pop music.  I preferred soft rock and vocal jazz the most.  Nothing like tight harmony with a number of very talented jazz singers.

  7. I am very proud of my accomplishments, but at the same time very humble.  So many people are substantially more talented than me.  I admit, I am sometimes jealous of those talents.

  8. My 40+ year career was spent in technology (mostly software) and as a Financial Advisor for 2 major Wall Street Firms, Smith Barney and Merrill Lynch.

  9. A am retiring in 18 days, on Friday October 5th, 2018.  Actually I am changing careers to be a full time 24x7 photographer, doing what I love day and night. I don’t have grandiose financial aspirations in photography, but would like to be rewarded both financially and emotionally for my work and my talents. Please help me in my photography business!

  10. I saved the hardest one for last.  I suffer from depression.  It is even hard to verbalize this, I guess it is humiliating and embarrassing.  I think it started the day my son Eric was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and then escalated when he died in his sleep over 6 years ago.  I struggle every day to make a difference, to feel valued, to feel friendship.  I have to WORK to stay up, and I work hard at it. I blame no one for this “disease”, except for maybe God. Photography and the arts keep me going. 

There you have it, 10 things you probably did not know about me. If you read this, please let me know. I have a sense that my blogs are only read by a select few. Perhaps it is the whole social networking, I am only interested in pictures not WORDS thing.

With Love and emotion:

Tom

My Birthday Wish

Tom Schmuki2 Comments
 Photo taken by my son Ryan when the light hit me just perfect

Photo taken by my son Ryan when the light hit me just perfect

September 12, 1955… the day I was born. 

To give a little perspective. 

In the 50’s houses cost on average $15,000, a brand new Chrysler New Yorker cost $4,500, and gasoline was about 25 cents a gallon.  Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, Patti Page and Tony Bennett were amongst the most popular musicians.  Sit down in front of your black and white TV and watch Bonanza, Gunsmoke and the Twilight Zone.  There were no computers, no internet, no NASA, no iPhone, and no Xbox 360’s.

So what do I want for my birthday, what is my real birthday wish?  Here is a short list:

  • American government, FIX it.  Come on, it has been broken for years.  Can’t we come up with 2 presidential candidates we can all be proud of and not have to always vote for the best of two really bad choices?

  • In addition to WORLD peace, I want inner peace.  Have not had it for years.  My soul left when my son Eric was diagnosed Paranoid Schizophrenic when he was 19 and then died in his sleep over 6 years ago.

  • I want to feel like I made a real contribution to the world even in my own small way.  What kind of legacy will I really leave?

  • I want my photography to be so unique, interesting and beautiful that I will be unable to keep up with the work.

  • I want my photography to be valued by more than a passing “like” or a single comment on social networks. 

  • I want to feel young again.  I am stiff, sore and inflexible created by a lifetime of sports and orthopedic surgeries. I won the battle of multiple club championships in golf and tennis but lost the war of flexibility. While I am wishing, how about single vision instead of double vision created by my health incident a few months back?

  • I want to hear one person whisper to another…… “hey, isn’t that Thomas Schmuki, the world famous photographer?”

  • Two months from now I want to look back and say, “MAN I SHOULD HAVE RETIRED YEARS AGO, now I can do what I really love 24/7 – Photography”

  • How about a real friend?

I know most of my wishes are unrealistic, but I do frequently think about these things.

That’s all I want….. But hey, there is always Christmas.

Tom

You need a permit for most photo shoot venues

Tom Schmuki1 Comment
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I cannot tell you how many times I have gone to a venue with a model and my professional photography gear, began shooting and then being approached by a venue official stating we cannot shoot there WITHOUT a permit.  Here are just a few of the places I have been asked to STOP shooting:

  • Mid Town Miami
  • South Beach
  • Boca Town Centre
  • Bayside Marketplace
  • Hollywood Boardwalk and Beach
  • Haulover Park

Photographer Takes Photos of Town Hall, Is Arrested Under Anti-Terror Laws

https://fstoppers.com/legal/photographer-takes-photos-town-hall-arrested-under-anti-terror-laws-175690

A few simple rules of thumb on a very complex subject.

  • If you are shooting in a “Public Place” like parks, streets, museums, etc., your finished photos must not include any “distinguishable” individuals who have not previously signed a photo release.
  • Do I need a permit to shoot in public?  Maybe….. Contact your local government or municipalities to find out what process and requirements are as well as any fees you may be charged.  I have listed some of the local municipalities contacts at the end of this document.
  • If you are shooting on Private property:
    • You should receive written permission to photograph on the property.  The official document is normally called “Photography Property Release”.

Here are some helpful links for my photography and model friends:

www.ppa.com (Professional Photographers Association) has many sample release documents you can use as your starting point.

How to obtain an official photography/filming permit.

Each location and venue is different, but I would give the following general guidelines:

  •  At least 1 week to get permit approved
  • Costs vary, but expect for MINIMAL shoots at least $150, and the more the shoot feels like a production the MORE it will cost for permit
  • You MUST have professional liability insurance and normally provide the venue with a copy of that insurance
  • You MUST have a clear game plane of what, where, how, who to present on the permit.

A few local links to obtain permits

Miami Dade County:

FilMiami administers the online permitting for Miami-Dade County and City of Miami Beach facilities, properties, and most other local municipalities. We require a minimum of 24 hours' notice for permits, a certificate of insurance additionally insuring the county and/or city(s) for $1 million of liability, specific information on locations, dates and times, budget information, and information about any other special arrangements that might be needed.

https://www8.miamidade.gov/global/service.page?Mduid_service=ser1486753745761198

City of Miami Film Office

http://www.miamigov.com/film-permits/contact.html

City of Miami Beach

https://www.miamibeachfl.gov/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Film-and-print-Guidelines-revised-2.pdf

Greater Fort Lauderdale

https://www.sunny.org/film-music-fashion-and-create/industry/permitting/permit-form/

Palm Beach County

http://www.pbfilm.com/permits

City of Hollywood Florida

https://www.hollywoodfl.org/392/Film-Permits

Bayside Marketplace: Miami Florida

https://www.bayside.vic.gov.au/apply-filming-and-photography-permit

Florida Keys and Key West

https://filmkeys.com/permits.cfm

Production permits in the Florida Keys & Key West are issued without charge.

If shooting is to occur on private property only, a permit is not required although all production companies are requested to notify the Florida Keys & Key West Film Office regarding their intentions, whether on private or public property.

Vizcaya Museum & Gardens

http://vizcaya.org/facility-photo-commercial-photography-filming.asp

Gold Coast Railroad Museum

https://www.goldcoastrailroadmuseum.org/photoshoot

Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park

http://www.filmiami.org/pdf/cape_florida_photo_film_shoot.pdf

What is your other alternative

Be descrete, carry minimal gear, don't act like a professional, pretend you are shooting family, hide, dodge and don't make a spectacle.  All of these options are so very hard for me when I am the opposite of most of those things.  

The Shy man behind the camera

Tom SchmukiComment
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I wrote the BLOG years ago and for some reason it is not on my web site.

I was always the party pooper that hated to go to parties.  I felt so uncomfortable talking with people I never met before, will probably never see again.  More important than that in my mind was that I was not the most interesting person at the party.

Now I have a camera to hide behind.  I can go to parties with my camera.  Those who know my photographic work are more likely too want me to take their picture.  They actually look my direction and graciously thank me for taking their picture.    I can almost feel their excitement and anticipation to see the end result.  I now feel naked in public without my camera. I go back to my normal shy self and wonder why people won't look my direction.  It is sort of funny because many people believe I am an outgoing and gregarious socialite.  I guess compared to my nerdy software programmer peers I am.

If you invite me to a party without my camera I will probably say NO because I am so uncomfortable approaching strangers without my camera in my hand.  Its such an ice breaker, sort of like a man carrying a child or a pet.

If you see me with my camera, look my direction and indicate you want your picture taken.  If I am with or without a camera, take me out of my comfort zone and carry out a conversation with me.

Thank you Nikon for making me feel more comfortable in public. 

 

Tom

 

TESPhoto

Thomas Schmuki Photography

I photograph events like runway and fashion shows to create ART

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As most all local photographers, models, fashion designers and event organizers know, most if not ALL participants attend unpaid, free of charge, gratis, etc. This may come as a surprise to some of my followers not involved in the business of fashion and runway photography.  I cannot answer the question for the other participants why they continue to participate in these events for the love of the game.  I can try to attempt this from my own perspective.

When I am asked to come photograph one of these events I am sure the assumption is if I say yes, I am coming with the intent of “covering” the event. 

What does covering the event mean in a fashion show in its entirety?  

  1. Arrive early and take photographs of the models arriving and prepping for the show.  Take photographs of the models, makeup artists, hair specialists, and fashion designers as they do their thing to get ready.
  2. Take photographs of every model in every outfit from every fashion designer.  These photos should include different perspectives from full length, walking the runway, pausing, turning, posing, and returning back from the runway, and of course the last turn around right before they exit the stage
  3. Take photographs of each group of fashion as the runway models and fashion designer walk the stage clapping to the designer(s) for their fantastic work
  4. Photograph the crowd and any special guests attending
  5. Photograph the end of the show, guests and models leaving the show
  6. After event photographs of participants who want pictures with their friends, family, favorite designers, etc.

That is MY definition of covering a fashion show or event.  This normally entails about 800-1500 clicks of my camera.

Let me make this clear and this may be difficult for many to agree with, or even comprehend.  Even though I attempt to photograph the EVENT as described in items 1-6 above, I have NO intent of producing and making available a series of photos with all items 1-6. 

What is my intent?  Plain and simple, if I am not paid to shoot the event, my intent is to create a FEW beautiful works of ART.  If I edit one of your photos I want you to feel like you won the lottery.  This is entirely different than most of my photography peers for whatever reason.  What their intent is regarding covering an event must be answered by them.  

So what are the common requests I get from event attendees, which always results in a somewhat awkward conversation.

  • I want all my pictures, NOW, I need to post them immediately to get the maximum social networking clout.  They usually lead this request with first calling me their friend…
  • Can you send me every picture you took of my design, a specific model, etc.
  • I want every picture that has a model wearing my jewelry
  • etc.

After shooting many, many events and mostly fashion shows over the past number of years I know given my work flow what my commitment is when I say yes to this FREE non paid event.  On average it is about 60 hours of work per event.  I may call it a labor of love versus work.  I painstakingly cull the photos to my chosen few edits, then give a photo all my attention.  The average edit per photo is about 15 minutes and some photos may actually take hours.  I actually portrait retouch nearly 95% of all photos, painting lights and shadows on the face for dramatic and beautiful effects.  I look at the photo with an end result work of art in mind.  How do I get there? What is my vision?  

Have I succeeded and how do I measure my success or failure?  When I notice my participants use my photos for their cover photos or profile photos for weeks and months and many times go back and use it over and over.  That tells me my photo stood out and has VALUE to them.  That makes me very happy!  From an economic perspective I measure my success in these events as an utter failure.  Even after the fact few if none of the participants are willing to pay for edits or beautiful enlargements.  This is perplexing to me but it does smack me in my face that the real value of my work to the participants specifically is $0.  If I ever stop shooting these events, this will be the reason why.

Are you surprised my fellow Colorado friends that 90% of my work or nearly 100% of the work you see me post on social networks is NON paid work.  Luckily I do a LOT of work that I never post including weddings, bar and bot mitzvahs, head shots, group shots, infants, parties, etc.  

As I get closer and closer to my retirement from my daily work as a software developer, I ask you all to help support me in more ways than just a like or heart on my photos.  I will be retiring as early as September 12th (my birthday) or as late as the end of this year.  I will then be a full time photographer and only be doing photography soon.  I ask for your support and believe I have shown the world my dedication to my craft I love so much.

Thomas Schmuki

I am ANAL - BACKUP, BACKUP, BACKUP

Tom SchmukiComment
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I am reminded by a model who just recently asked me to give her a photo I took over a year ago which I have provided to her previously in 1 or two different forms.

Why is the following process so important to me as a photographer and why should you incorporate your own assurance of saving those photos that are oh so important to you?

First lets talk about what happens in real life

  1. You just cant find that photo amidst all your other photos.  You know you had it.... BUT where did it go?
  2. The most common problem of all is HUMAN error.  You inadvertently deleted your individual picture files, your folder, your hard drive, etc.
  3. System crashes.  Computers fail - almost ALWAYS.  You must assume this WILL happen.  Your hard drive WILL crash and you will NOT be able to retrieve anything off it.
  4. Natural disasters: Fires, floods, hurricanes, etc
  5. Theft: your computer and storage are stolen
  6. etc.

If you are a photographer either professoinal or amateur, take these words seriously.  I have been in technology for over 30 years.  I have SEEN it all.  Be prepared, disaster WILL happen.  

If you are like most people who use their phone for EVERYTHING and all photos are mysteriously saved on your phone.  You better have a backup plan,  Items 1-5 above can happen to you and most likely will.

What do I do with your photos after I take your pictures?

  1.  I copy the photos from my camera’s memory card to an external hard drive.  I reserve this card and do not use it for at least 2 weeks after the shoot.  JUST IN CASE.
  2.  I make sure all the photos I took are there. I look closely at the starting and ending photos
  3.  I rename the photos sequentially to something more meaningful.  My camera might save the file as: DSC500-10045, I may rename that to MSwim2018-1
  4.  I copy the entire folder of renamed photos to a separate hard drive (just in case)
  5.  I then load the photos into Lightroom which is what I use to catalogue my photos.  When I load the photos I load them with keywords like: Fashion, Runway, Models, DAMA, etc.  I can use keywords later to find photos
  6.  I do a quick pass and delete all BAD photos.  Photos of my feet, dramatically under or over exposed photos, out of focus, sticking your tongue out photos, etc.
  7. While editing the photos, I add keywords to specific photos including models names, etc.  I may also put the models name in the Title or Caption metadata
  8.  I automate local backups of all my local hard drives to a local hard drive using Apples “Time Machine”
  9.  I automate a second backup to the cloud – I use a cloud storage provider called Backblaze.  Highly recommend them.
  10. When I edit the photos I then export the edited version to DROPBOX

In Summary, how many copies do I have of your photos?

  • Cameras memory card (2 weeks)
  • External Hard drive (RAW Files) – Never modified
  • Backup of RAW to local external drive – Never modified
  • Backup of all files to local external drive – Time Machine
  • Backup to the Cloud – Backblaze (www.backblaze.com), just in case there is a local disaster or THEFT
  • Backup of edited pictures to DROPBOX
    • I recommend storing at least 2 versions of your edits to DROPBOX (WEB, and HIGH RESOLUTION), if your are ANAL: a version for Facebook, Instagram, Web, High Resolution (for printing)

The number: 6 copies, 5 after 2 weeks

This may not be best practice but this is my work flow.

Bored yet?  You may wish you had incorporated this or other strategies to store your precious photos.

All this work and technology is not only time consuming but expensive.  Another reason your photographer should be paid for his work.

-- Tom

 

The moment of Truth - a health update and photography tip at the end

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 Beautiful model Laura Garrido

Beautiful model Laura Garrido

Another personal blog where you can learn “hidden secrets” about me, my life and my photography.  At the end of this blog I will give ONE photography tip to those photographers on how I assure proper skin tone exposures on things like fashion shows without using a light meter.

I have written two previous blogs about my latest health drama which started over 6 weeks ago.

One Breath Awayhttps://www.thomasschmukiphotography.com/blog/2018/5/29/one-breath-away

I hope to see Clearly again: https://www.thomasschmukiphotography.com/blog/2018/7/3/i-hope-to-see-clearly-again

For those few who actually read my blog, thank you.  To me it means you care and are interested in my life and my work. For the most part I believe the blog is not really read by anyone, not even my wife lol.  For those select few who do…. THANK YOU.

Here is my health update.

After multiple visits to the following doctors: optometrist, ophthalmologist, neurologist, hematologist, cardiologist.  My neurologist basically said I need everything extensively checked from the “heart up”.  Guess my privates don’t matter …

I have had a Brain Stem Scan, throat scan, EKG, 24 hour heart monitor, echo cardiogram, multiple blood tests, bla, bla, bla.  Oh my. 

My personal prognosis:

My urologist determined my testosterone levels (T Levels) were far too low …. about 175 and at my age should be approximately 700-1000.  We discussed alternatives to fix my problem.  I was convinced even though I had initiated a conversation about the risks that I should go on a regimented supervised testosterone shot treatment plan.  Every other Friday, I have been shot in the arm with that stuff.  After my first blood test, they found my T Levels were great, in the mid 700’s but my blood showed signs of “thickening” and should initiate a plan of purging some of my old blood with new blood.  That is when I went and gave blood. 

It was that day…. Read my blog on  “One Breath Away”, that I believed I had a small minor stroke.  Frankly I thought I was going to die lying on the floor.  I think it may be called a TIA.  I exhibited at least 4 of the major signs of a TIA.

I am still feeling weak, but a little stronger every day.  I still see double (no improvement) without my prism glasses.  I am convinced after talking with people who have gone through this that I will get better and my vision will improve.  Can take 2-6 months.

My fear to be honest.  I read 1/3 of all patients who had a TIA have a stroke within 12 months.  Guess its time to ….. get in shape, fix my cholesterol issues, and most importantly enjoy my life and get that last great photo out there.  I will NEVER stop!

Photography Tip - Proper skin tone exposure

Photographers here is your tip: I look carefully at my histogram.  I zoom in on the skin tones and make sure the histogram is reading just past the middle and even as much as ¾.  Lets face it, if the skin is not exposed properly, what is the use?????

Thomas Schmuki

954-439-1999

Fashion Show Runway Models – Pro’s OWN the stage

Tom Schmuki1 Comment
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After shooting fashion show runways now for years I have noticed a distinct difference between the experienced and first timers strutting their stuff on the runway.  Confidence and excitement exude from the pros.  A pro literally takes over the stage, they own it so to speak.  They take their time and their whole countenance glows.  Each pose has clearly been practiced over and over, and the models give the photographers time to “get their shot”.  The next pose just “flows” from the previous one.  Almost like a choreographed dance. 

I have included a picture of a model that clearly owned the stage.  She was full of confidence, poise and fun.  She loved being the center of attention.

Conversely the “first timers” or nearly first timers are very much the opposite. You get the feeling that they can’t wait to get off the stage, even to the point of literally not striking one single pose.  Perhaps they think that strutting across the stage is enough. 

Runway models, if you want great shots from the photographers then take your time, enjoy the moment, interact with the crowd and the photographers, pause just a little longer at the end of your pose, change your facial expressions along with your different poses.  When you have traversed back to the beginning of the runway, turnaround, pose again, I am waiting for that last great shot!  Pause, smile, enjoy the moment.  You worked very hard to get here.

My hats of to the DAMA organization for mentoring and tutoring these wonderful young models.  Their runway training alone stands out in every show!  What the young models get from DAMA is much more than that including poise, respect and many others. My highest recommendation to attend their schools!

What do I know, I am just the photographer …

Thomas Schmuki Photography

 

Miami Swim Week from a photographers perspective

Tom SchmukiComment
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First of all let me say it is an honor and privilege to be invited to photograph a fashion show at the events I have participated in both this year and last year at Miami Swim Week.

This BLOG certainly only represents my perspective and no one else.  In fact, many of my photography peers may disagree entirely.  Let them BLOG on their opinion which I totally respect.

Photographing any fashion show is a unique experience for me.  Many shows have 10-20+ photographers and videographers attending and shooting the event.  This is a problem right out of the gate for me.  Why?  Let me explain.  

The photographers are elbow to elbow during the show, sometimes packed in like sardines.  We all try to respect each others space to allow the other photographers to get the shot.  The problem is there is not enough space to get the shot.  I mentioned to my peers before the show, “we all have the same goal, get beautiful pictures of the models, the fashion and the event, and to not have other photographers preventing you from making the happen."  During the show on Friday night, 3 times a tripod from a photographer behind me fell on me right during my shot.  He was appologetic, but come on!!!!

Lights, lights, give me more lights…. Many photographers including myself prefer to photograph these events with big beautiful lights to provide a pleasing beautiful result.  Picture this for a moment…  The model is going through her/his poses, pausing for each one. At that moment of pause the 20+ photographers all take a picture and fire their flashes.  I am really good and calculating the proper light to light up almost any situation. I am NOT good at either timing the shot when no other photographer is shooting or calculating 2-20 flashes hitting the model at the same time.  Result: OVEREXPOSED, BLOWN OUT pictures pose after pose.  There are only 3 solutions I can see to this problem.  One, no flashes allowed, which would be a shame, or two: limiting the number of photographers to a number that works.  I say 3-6 or so depending on the size of the event.  Solution #3 is to light up the venue appropriately so flash photography is not needed to create beautiful results.

After the previous shows I spoke to some of the models.  Even though I was within 15 feet of them when they were posing they could not see me whatsoever.  All they see is a bunch of bright flashing lights.  They can hardly find their way with all the lights going.  Heaven forbid if they were actually asked to perform a fancy dance routine or acrobatics.

I hope to see clearly again

Tom Schmuki2 Comments

Every photo I take, every photo I edit I deem as my possible last.  That may sound morbid but it is the actual truth.  I treat it that way, I focus on perfection that way.  I want my last photo to be my best if it is my next one or one 200,000 clicks away.

Fraud – if it sounds almost too good to be true

Tom Schmuki1 Comment

This blog is about my personal experiences with FRAUD as it relates to my photography business.  You will find one common theme with my 3 case stories.  If you are a photographer, a fashion designer, a studio owner, you may want to read on.  This may save you THOUSANDS of dollars.

Case #1:

Request from out of town to photograph a wedding on the east coast of Florida.  I cannot remember the proposed $ amount but it was an appropriate amount and in line with normal wedding photographic work.  Warning signs:

  1. Client would only communicate via email and texts, and his English was awful.  I even think he said he was deaf and could not speak on the phone. 
  2. I could not confirm how the client vetted me as the photographer of choice
  3.  Here is the big one: client proposed sending me a larger check than the negotiated amount and I would pay the difference to his florist or other vendors. 

Case #2:

Request from out of town client to do a beach shoot. Warning signs:

  1. Wanted to pay me more than the negotiated amount and have me pay the difference to her taxi cab driver.

Case #3:

Proposal from a very large commercial photography company for me to photograph a 4 day shoot with 15 models and 3 photographers.  The proposal was for their supposed client ADIDAS.  All paperwork seemed incredibly professional and on the up and up.  Warning signs:

  1. I could not determine how the client vetted me as the photographer of choice to do this shoot.  I thought: of course I am qualified and worthy of this kind of a gig, and certainly my portfolio shows that qualification
  2. The client would not divulge the name of the models, the studio, nor the fashion designers even up to 1 day before the shoot.  Said that the lawyers have not officially released that information
  3. Here we go again…. Client wanted to send me a check for MORE than my contracted amount.  The balance to be paid to fashion designers and vendors for the shoot.

Is there a common theme here?  YES.  DO not engage in these SCAMS.  As soon as the client proposes you do some “OUT” banking instead of just “IN” banking, you know it is a SCAM.  There is no reason a client CANNOT pay for expenses like a florist, a taxi cab driver, a fashion designer or vendor directly. 

What is the SCAM?

They send you a check, you deposit it in your bank.  They then ask you to issue funds to an external third party.  Within 3-10 business days the original check from the client is rejected from your bank as a bad check.  You will be out the entire amount issued to 3rd parties and also have divulged information including banking information to the scammers to use against you and or sell to other scammers.

I confirmed this with my bank. They told me to NEVER issue checks to a 3rd party.  You will always be giving good money for BAD money received.

I used NO checks or funds to any of these scammers.  Good thing!