The Decline of Teen Model Websites
Author's Note - Most of the opinion piece below was created in June 2014 as the closing section of a post titled "The Four Fs". It grew too long and was cut to save as a topic of it's own. While reading - think back to summer 2014.
"Teen" or "Teens" means models in the age range of 13 to 17.
"Social Media" refers to general sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, along with more specialized sites such as OneModelPlace and ModelMayhem where models and photographers meet and communicate.
"18+" or "Adult" refers to websites or photographers that feature models age 18 and above.
"Piracy" refers to the unauthorized distribution of photos or videos in a manner that deprives the website, photographer and model of income they should or could receive, and often creates embarrassment for the teen models and their parents.
I have this sad feeling that the teen website business is dying and may never come back. I'm speaking of websites featuring teen girls under age 18, not 18 and 19 year old teens.
I see many reasons for it - some self inflicted by webmasters themselves, many caused by those that are fans of the models, and many part of a social media and jealously driven desire for all persons to be equals - nobody is to have more, or do more, than ones-own-self.
The website business model is simple. The webmaster comes up with a theme and name for an online publication/website featuring teen models in photos and videos that pretty girl fans are willing to pay for. He acquires the start-up materials, creates the site, charges a reasonable fee for entrance to the member's area, and updates on a regular basis to keep current subscribers interested and attract new ones.
Content is king. He can have the best domain name, and a snappy design, but if the pretty teen girl content is average his business will have average or below success financially.
To produce great content he needs the two most important parts of the equation - the photographer(s) and the models.
It seems so simple and clear when I type it out but in the real world it's failing, never coming back on the scale we've seen it in the past, and I believe no longer worth the time and effort people - including myself - have put into it over the years.
We must first look at the business itself - it has risks built in from day one. The age of models brings constant legal attention even if you are doing things perfectly legal. It also brings unwanted media attention, peer pressure from other photographers and webmasters, and in some ways a sort of blacklist within certain resource communities that those working with older models do not face.
Compared to working with models 18-20 working with the younger teens is a huge hassle and lacks significant additional reward to those who bravely deal with the risks, hassles and harassment.
Next add in the massive piracy issues and before you know it the entire under 18 webmodel business doesn't seem so attractive to work or invest in. The reward at the end of the day isn't worth it from a strictly business point of view, or from the personal time invested dealing with hassles or harassment not seen when dealing with models over age 18.
This is why you don't see new teen (-18) sites appear online every few weeks or months like you do with 18+ models. Return on the investment of time and money is now minimal due to piracy and the hassle is greater than ever due to social media. With 18+ the reward is the same or more (because you can heavily advertise an 18+ website) and the hassle or harassment is very tiny in comparison.
Before you can have a cute teen model photo gallery or video on a website you need a photographer to scout her and work with her mother to get paperwork done, then set a shoot day with her, produce the materials, and get them ready for publication. Of course, if he doesn't have a beautiful model ready and willing to be in front of his camera, it doesn't matter who he is, if he has years of experience, or is shooting with a 1972 Polaroid.
Normally the photographer comes along first so let us look first at the photographer issue.
Often the photographer and webmaster/site owner are the same person, as it was with TrueTeenBabes for many years. For TeenGlamourGirls, TeenStarlet, and many other websites that have come and gone over the years, there was more than one photographer contributing.
While searching for photographers that are good at the glamour style, and in it as a business, I find most of them feel the same way about working with teen models; they can generate the same amount of revenue, or more, shooting 18-20 year olds and do so without the hassles or peer pressure social media sends their way if they do shoot teens in lingerie.
That one simple fact keeps 99% of the good quality glamour photographers in this country away from the teen model scene no matter how much a website owner is willing to pay for quality materials.
I've spent a bunch of cash in the past year trying to get higher quality photographers to work on TeenGlamourGirls and not had any success. Yes, there are some foreign guys in Eastern Europe or South America doing this work, but it's the American teen girl style that draws the most fans by far, so site owners need American based photographers.
There are a tiny few that will shoot teens in daring shots these days here in the USA - far fewer than years ago. Many of those that do work with teens in daring outfits are very low quality or just plain suck. That's a rude word but it's true. Some of the shit they send me as samples or product is fucking horrible. Who here feels that a 15 year old girl dressed in a large men's Batman costume is quality glamour style photography?
Follow along with me here for a few minutes knowing that I'm leaving out some personal names because I didn't clear this discussion with them first.
The owner at TeenStarlet shoots himself when he can but has a regular job and also uses 2-3 outside shooters. Just a few days ago while Jaclynn was on the phone with me she also talked by Facebook messaging to both a current and a former model of that site.
At one point the current girl mentioned they don't have sets for an update because the photographer hired to shoot is no longer wanting to do "that style of shoot" and didn't show up. Now, please understand that the model is a tad strange, a bit odd, and lies often, so it may not be exactly true, but it is what she told Jaclynn by Facebook text message.
Remember the term "that style of shoot" as you read on.
The girl that is now a former model there, but working elsewhere, mentioned it happened to her too in 2012. Photographer doing some work with them, then later changing his mind and not showing for next shoot because he was no longer wanting to work with teens in that lingerie or extra daring style.
A guy that shot a girl for TeenGlamourGirls back in 2012 begged me to take the stuff down after somebody criticized him on ModelMayhem for shooting a lingerie clad teen. His TeenGlamourGirls stuff was very damn mellow, barely daring at all, yet he was being harassed about it online by other photographers and models 18+.
Two other photographers, from Florida and Texas, that accepted assignments and scheduled shoots for TeenGlamourGirls failed to deliver the right style of work, stating later they got some rude messages from a boyfriend on Facebook and other models on ModelMayhem, so they both decided having the girl in long dresses was best. Getting social media approval for the shots was more important than delivering what they promised to deliver, what the customer ordered, or getting paid.
Don at FloridaSunModels - He hasn't shot a fresh to the business new girl under 18 in years except Violet and he didn't go out and find her. Violet was a TrueTeenBabes applicant that I sent his way when I was shutting down. He, like many others, isn't interested in the hassle of trying to locate new models in the 13-17 age range. He'll work with them if they are referred by others - but not actively looking due to the harassment.
Mike at SandleTeens - 8 years ago this guy was a busy teen shooting dude for a popular series of websites until that company faced unrelated legal pressure and went out of business. Now he shoots very mellow when he does venture into teens, but most his updates are 6-7 year old replays of Sherri & Marie. He also keeps an outside job because the teen model business isn't as viable as it once was.
ChrisQ - who did a great job for TeenGlamourGirls while shooting 14 models was forced to quit the teens because ModelMayhem threatened to close his account and that would affected his other photography work.
I could go on and on and on but the bottom line is that there are very few guys - even those of average quality - that will shoot teens outside of dresses, jeans or full size (old lady style) swimwear these days.
The top reason for this ongoing problem is what I'm going to call "the hassle". Photographers can no longer approach new models on websites such as ModelMayhem or OneModelPlace for this type of work without being hassled to death by others or having their account deleted.
Oddly, some of the most aggressive or determined of the harassers are some of the biggest fakes on those websites - the guys that repair trucks for a living, but have full blown online profiles claiming to be photographers-agents-managers and that they are able to make a girl famous at the snap of their fingers. Full out fakers - but that's a broad topic that I'll save for another post of short stories you'll enjoy.
Peer Pressure on potential photographers, and their fear of being "different" or not receiving enough "Likes" on social media, keeps them from jumping into teen glamour model photo and video production.
It hasn't always been this way. There was a time when being a successful photographer or photo studio was judged by photography business related factors such as actual income, studio size, the number of people you are able to employ because the studio is successful, the exciting locations your successful business takes you too, and on like that.
These days hundreds of potential photographers judge themselves by the number of "Likes" they get to a photo posted to, or "Friends" they have on, social media. It simply makes no sense.
Yes, it's good to be "liked" in general, but I've never seen anybody pay a mortgage with "likes", employ people and issue paychecks drawn on the "National Bank of Likes", or able to walk into the local Chevy dealership and purchase a car by showing a social media page full of "Likes" and a high number of "Friends".
Clearly, the desire to "fit in" and be "liked" has taken over - not just in the teen photography business, but in all sorts of other business and public arenas.
When, or if, we do have photographers with talent ready to shoot teens, there is a much smaller pool of models available these days as compared to 2001 to 2009 - what I call the "Pre-Facebook" and "Pre-Piracy" days - so let me move to the subject of models.
Most of the issues with models I discussed previously in a blog post titled "The Four Fs" so I'll just touch on that and a few additional issues today.
Like the photographers mentioned above, teen girls want to be "liked" and seek approval in comments under photos. It doesn't matter if that approval is on Facebook or Instagram with selfies, or on a modeling based social media site like ModelMayhem with amateur photos in a prom dress. That approval, by way of the "Like" button and additions to the friends list, is the most sought after thing in the life of many teen girls these days.
Girls that stray from the "norm" and seek to be different are rare these days. They are even more rare when that desire or willingness to be rare involves being photographed wearing tiny, very daring outfits.
Girls that stray away from the "norm" are attacked on social media, and in many cases chased by their student peers, and parents of those peers, right out of the damn school. it's true - girls from the first years of TrueTeenBabes stayed in school, graduated, and many went on to college. Girls from the last few years of the same website, doing the same style of work, got pushed out of school, driven to fights and often dropped out of school or started the silly, and useless, "home schooling".
There was a time when being a cheerleader was a goal for all the cutest girls at the junior and senior high school level. That is much less desirable these days, and those that are in it are often pushed that way by their parents. Don't believe me? Take a look at the cheerleading squad photos from 10 high schools now and compare them to the photos from the same schools 15 years ago. Which has the most girls that stand out in physical beauty and display a healthy look and body style?
Or maybe the question should be which photo has the short, slightly overweight, "thicker" girl(s) on the team because society and social media pressure in the last several years says everybody should be "equal" and there should be no "winners", and nobody is allowed to be "better"?
Bring that attitude to teen modeling in daring outfits and all hell breaks loose. Girls are attacked in social media and at school. It should be no surprise that girls retire from teen model websites quickly or that many girls with high photographic potential never venture into the glamour website business.
When the girl has started out wanting to do modeling and created a profile on OneModelPlace or ModelMayhem things are worse. Not only is she attacked there for posing in such garments, she is also told by the so called "experts" about how it's going to ruin her modeling "career"... blah, blah, blah. I can't begin to recall all the times a truck stop attendant from Tennessee or tractor salesmen from Minnesota with a ModelMayhem profile would tell a short TrueTeenBabes model he was going to make her a famous New York fashion model until he saw her TrueTeenBabes photos.
Teen girls that want to be models, and their mothers, are often a bit blinded by bullshit and can't figure out the truth. TrueTeenBabes, TeenStarlet, FloridaSunModels and others might be offering them one thousand dollars for a day long photo shoot, but dammit that other guy is promising them fame and a much greater fortune if they'll just shoot with him, pay for that portfolio and let him be their "manager". And they won't have to do it in daring outfits, and will have some high school yearbook style photos standing next to a barn they can put on Facebook as their "modeling photo shoot" and get plenty of "Likes" - because every girl can pay a photographer to take snapshots of them standing by a barn.
Suddenly, those girls - the ones on normal social media sites and looking into modeling on sites like ModelMayhem and OneModelPlace, are being pushed away from teen model website work that pays them by two types of social media interaction. They are being hassled on Facebook, but at the same time being promised gold at the end of the rainbow on ModelMayhem.
Does it really surprise any of us they take the easy way out - even if it means not getting a paycheck and likely having to spend their parent's money on a portfolio?
Hell no it's not surprising. it's disappointing but not surprising.
Many of us, as photographers trying to pay girls for their time and talent to appear on a teen model website, have tried to fight back in this situation but have been mostly unsuccessful.
For years when I would find girls I wanted to shoot for TrueTeenBabes I would send a 10 page packet of information to the parents. Part of that was dedicated to explaining the differences between shooting for me and getting paid, and shooting for free to be on ModelMayhem. In most cases it didn't matter. The money wasn't important, but being told fame was right around the corner was.
Recently the crew over at TeenStarlet posted this graphic on Instagram.
I haven't spoken with him by phone or email in a few months but I'm confident in saying that by that graphic he is trying to make the same point that I try to make; Modeling is a job and the girls should get paid for it, period. And, that he, like me back when TrueTeenBabes was open, are willing to pay the models.
Quick Note - The total payments you see in that graphic isn't that that much money but it's not that company's fault. I'm sure that if they could have hired fives times as many teen models in that time frame they would have paid five times as much to teen models. None of us can pay out near as much as we want in the current social media driven environment. In 2009, in the "Pre-Facebook" and "Pre-Piracy" age, my little company paid out over $480,000.00 (combined TrueTeenBabes and TrueBabes). The way "showing off" is considered taboo these days I don't think I could hire enough quality teen models to payout half that amount over the next 12 months if I re-opened both sites.
Thus far I've explained how social media, and the connections made there, has made it hard for photographers and models to justify the hassles of working for teen model websites, even if the site owners are willing to pay them a decent wage.
Underlying this issue is one slang word: Ego.
We all have an ego in one way or another. Getting positive comments and those magical "Likes" on Facebook, Instagram or ModelMayhem is incredibly important to teen girls and photographers alike. They'll sacrifice income, travel, and real studio experience to get shots that will bring "Likes". Girls will take great risk working with some stranger in a park just because he told them what they wanted to hear and had a profile on ModelMayhem with friends attached or "Likes" to his previous shots.
But, social media driven photographers, teen girls and their mothers are not the only ones with an ego that wants to be fed.
Some of the social media pressure being placed on photographers and models is self-inflicted by site owners, including myself, because we wanted to feed our own egos.
Teen model sites, both current and former, would find themselves pushing limit's in a mad battle to compete with each other for paying fans. We all wanted to be the biggest, the most popular with fans, and of course - the most profitable. We all wanted, if we admit it or not, to feed our own damn egos in one way or another.
Shooting teens, shooting teens in quality lingerie or glamour style shots, and shooting teens as far out of the lingerie as you can get them to go are three entirely different things.
it's not hard to imagine a potential new photographer or two seeing one style and thinking it's cool, but other styles and thinking they go too far, before backing away from teen model shoots to avoid questions or peer pressure.
it's not at all hard to imagine a mother, or two hundred mothers, keeping their daughters from participating when the materials are overly sexualized and the girl is not in lingerie, but looking like she is stripping out of it.
If a teen girl is in top quality photos that look like they could be in a Victoria Secrets catalog or the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue it's not that hard to defend any criticism they may bring.
If that same girl is dressed and posed in a manner that makes her look like a junior porn queen it is much, much harder to defend any criticism they may bring.
The webmaster/photographer that feels he "must" have the girl "slip" out of a bra or bikini top during every photo shoot so he can get a few positive emails to feed his ego might very well be killing his own business slowly over time.
That photo isn't one the girl would be proud of, not one she would want to brag about, and not one that will bring her positive comments on social media or in her own tight little circle of friends at the Friday night party.
The side effect of taking the models a bit too far and putting them in imagery they may not be proud of results in what I'll call the "lack of referrals".
For years new models on TrueTeenBabes, and other sites, would come on the scene because of their connection to a current model. Models showing photos to friends and sisters, those friends and sisters thinking it's really cool, and wanting to do it themselves.
As soon as we put the teen model in a position of not wanting people to know what she is doing, or seeing her photos, that string of referrals dies away.
There was a time when the most popular question from new girls was "what do I get to wear?"
In more recent years the most popular question became "what do I have to wear?"
That was the point at which we as webmasters or photographers should have paid attention.
The webmasters can certainly be considered one of the reasons the teen model scene is dying a slow, painful death, but the webmasters are not the only people in the equation that have taken actions that had the unintended consequence of scaring models and photographers away from the business.
Oddly, in many cases these other people have also done it simply to feed their own egos and feel they "fit in".
it's well known that I hate the people that pirate teen model photos and videos. I've always felt that those of us willing to put in the work, deal with the hassles, mitigate the legal hurdles and roadblocks, and survive the harassment deserve to get full financial credit for the materials we produce. That stance goes for guys like me that would spend tens of thousands of dollars a year shooting in expensive studios or far away locations, or the amateur guy just starting out and working from home.
In general the painful issue of piracy is a major concern for the teen model websites. Revenue has to be generated for the business to grow. Money certainly isn't an instant remedy for the issues discussed in the photographer and model sections above but it is the very root of the business. Without it, in reasonable numbers, there is no reason for the webmaster to deal with any of the other issues and he'll simply move on to being a bartender, accountant, or semi-retired bald guy.
Pirates, better know as common assholes, are a major problem but the way they prevent webmasters from generating income is not the only issue they cause.
Assholes that post the materials on adult porn sharing websites create a problem that trickles down to the current or future models and their parents.
Who really beleives a mother wants to Google search her 14 year old daughter's "model name" or and find that name and her in images on a forum right next to adult pornography, scenes of anal sex or close-ups of blowjobs.
Not only do the girl and her mother not want that to happen, but it often ends up being used by the so called "experts" on OneModelPlace and ModelMayhem to show the girls what will happen if they pose for a teen model site. Why the modeling "experts" are on the pirate sites in the first place will have to wait for another blog.
Most pirate sites are making money by advertising for, and sending traffic to, places like Flirt4Free, Blacked, Cams and other full blown porn sites. Teen models and teen model photographers don't want their images used that way but it happens all the time. Often it's done by asshole pirates that claim to be "fans" or a "long time customer".
A challenge for you:
Walk up to a mother and her cute daughter in the mall and tell them you can get the teen a job as a bikini model for $1000 a day and see what happens.
Next, explain to them that there is a bunch of guys out there that wake everyday, look at their big hairy belly in the mirror thinking of how studly and important they are, and that those guys spend all their waking hours taking the images without permission and giving them to a pornography based forums so they can be used to generate traffic to sites like CumSuckingWhores and FuckMyFatAss, then see what happens.
Who here thinks that mom wants her daughter's modeling name and pictures to come up with links to a porn filled website?
It can also bring school administration attention to the models or law enforcement attention to the parents.
Curiously, a large percentage of teen model piracy also has an egotistical element to it.
I've been very direct and open in my efforts to limit piracy of my materials. Over the years I've been forced by rabid pirates to file lawsuits, but in the majority of cases been able to work-out pre-litigation settlements. In many of the matters we've issued what is known as a DMCA Subpoena, which allows us to acquire records from third parties before a lawsuit is filed. This often includes the forum database and logs if the server is hosted in the USA, or is serviced by an America based backbone provider such as Level 3/ Global Crossing, Sprint, CenturyLink or AT&T.
Reading the forum postings and private messages of pirates reveals the same desire to be "liked" and pursuit of ego food that we see in teen girls on Facebook and Instagram.
Most pirates do it to be liked and to feel superior to other pirates on the same forum. I can't list the number of messages I've reviewed where a guy is bragging to another that he posted more files than this other guy or that other guy, or how he should be the moderator over that other guy because he gets more "Thank You" messages and comments when he posts.
Odd, very, very odd. Adult men arguing over the skills they display, and adulation they think they deserve, posting on a pirate forum, as if they are debating something important like war or stopping Ebola.
Piracy also takes the incentive out of the teen model business.
Remember, unlike the owners of adult sites, the teen webmaster is already dealing with hassles from law enforcement and the media, plus harassment on social media to produce materials and run his website. Now he has to also face a massive piracy issue. When there is more hassle to do the work, but less financial incentive to do the work, most webmaster / photographers would logically select to do something else.
I'll write more about piracy, it's affect on the business, and a behind the scenes look at how we go about fighting it at some future time.
Where is the business now and where is it going...
These issues, and a few others, have forced teen model webmasters to take steps they don't want to take in an effort to keep the websites online and earning at least some income. Unfortunately, some of those steps are not what we all wish would be happening.
Many of the girls you now see on teen sites these days are not under 18 or as far under 18 as fans are led to believe. I know one site that has a girl as a "teen" that was 20 years and 3 months when shot, and another that was 7 days short of 20 but was presented as 16. I know this because many of the same girls applied for work with me and I know the age from the forms they submitted here. If the form says "19, but look 16" and I turned her down, but two months later she is on another site as "16", we know a webmaster was forced to lie because he didn't have a cute girl truly age 16 available.
The website owners don't want it that way. They would love to deal with girls that truly fit the website theme but, as explained above, it's damn hard to do these days.
Have you noticed the quality of girls has dropped way down these last few years? Over the closing months of TrueTeenBabes I hired some girls I normally wouldn't because I had a deadline or wanted to reach 200 before closing. Other sites that are active now - taking girls with more pounds and more zit's than would have been acceptable 5 years ago. TrueTeenBabes, TrueBabes, TeenStarlet, and on and on. Model quality, for girls from the USA, is way down.
it's become a situation where site owners must hire chubby girls, average girls, or on some sites girls that are 18-19 but look younger so they don't need mother's approval, or the webmasters have no new material for weekly updates.
With sites that use outside photographers, like my own TeenGlamourGirls, it's the same issue with photographers. Some just aren't that good, like the chubby models, but they are the best we can find that will do the work.
Those steps - lower quality models and photographers - are a Band-Aid.
I believe the number of sites will dwindle down to almost zero and the quality of the photos and videos they feature will be average or below. Average or below is not a successful formula for a quality teen model publication.
TeenGlamourGirls will be closed by the end of year. I can't go back full time. I don't want to, have no desire for that much labor-hassle-harassment, and the rewards with piracy issues are minimal. Unless magic comes along and a few new shooters jump on board darn soon the end will arrive.
I predict the same thing will happen to other teen websites. Webmasters will keep trying, put up a good fight, lower the standards a tiny bit more, add a few more 19 year olds that look younger, and chug along for as far as they can, but I predict American based teen model websites, that feature primarily American teen models, will soon be a thing of the past.
Is Social Media Really To Blame...
I'm not a big fan of social media. People try to convince me all the time how great it is for their lives or business, but when I ask for hard numbers they can never provide them. They tell me about all the "Likes" they get but can never display how those "Likes" help them pay the rent, buy a new car or feed their children.
"Likes" mean nothing in the real world.
Above I was talking about the lower quality of work that has been turned in recently by photographers for TeenGlamourGirls or TrueBabes. Each of those guys had many, many "Likes" on their social media pages, but when it came to actually doing a full day worth of quality shots - not just displaying one from the shoot, they failed.
Social media isn't bad, but how people use or abuse it can be. it's also addictive to many that can't control themselves and is a tool for harassment on a scale never seen offline.
Is a teenage girl really better off posting to Twitter all day in class, while simultaneously flirting with some high school dropout boy on Facebook, as compared to paying attention to the teacher to get her ass educated?
Is the peer pressure many suffer at the hand of some cyberbully punk that later causes that kid to drop out of high school a good thing?
Is it good for business? Yes, it's good for business - Facebook's business, Instagram's business, Twitter's business. Teen girls that work all day to post pictures there while hoping to get "Likes" are just giving those sites buckets of content in return for nothing but a short term ego boost.
Myself, and all the photographers discussed above, also want them to have their picture taken to provide content for a website. Only difference - we want pictures that are a bit more daring (in most cases) and we want to pay them cash money, not just allow them to count "Likes".
it's the thing, the fad, what they all do... hang out on social media all the time and work hard to satisfy - or at least not upset - their social media friends
The teen model website fad... I feel it's fading away and will soon be just as out of style as those red-white-blue stripped bell bottoms I've been holding in my closet 42 years.
Social media isn't a bad thing in general, and might be great at finding new customers for a plumber, lawn service or local hair salon, but it very clearly is the devil when it comes to teen model websites.
When I was about 7 years old I would try to dam up this tiny creek that ran behind the house. I was convinced that if I could pile enough dirt there it would back up for a few blocks and I could try surfing on my mom's ironing board.
I'd get my shovel, grab some dirt, make a pile, and go to get more dirt. By the time I got back, most of what I had dumped the previous shovel load was eroded away. It took me many shovel loads to realize I wasn't building a big strong dam - I was just throwing dirt in water and watching it erode away.
It would erode from the far side of the creek, from the near side, even right up the middle as the water found it's way downstream.
That same scene is repeating itself with the teen model business in my opinion. it's eroding away, and that erosion isn't coming from just one side of the business or the other, it's being caused by all sides - webmasters, photographers, models and even the fans that become pirates.
The 2015 Updates...
The information above, except a few edit's and corrections, was composed in June of 2014. Over the past six months some of it has come true, some has become worse, or some other information has come my way. Below are a few updates and new thoughts.
I left two fairly important items out of the original post. Tattoos and stalkers.
Tattoos are a big damn issue these days. Myself, other photographers I've talked with, and every fan I've ever asked, think that tattoos on teen models is disgusting. On models in that age range they just don't look good and turn paying customers away from the business. If photographers hoping to shoot for TeenGlamourGirls submit girls that have tattoos I always turn them down because they have very little commercial value. Overall, tattoos are another factor limiting the available girls that fit the teen model website theme.
In the original writing back in June I created a few paragraphs about "social media stalkers", including some names, but decided to edit it out. I'm referring to guys that spend hour after hour using the search tools on websites trying to find the girl's personal profile so they can talk to her or harass her. it's sad that an adult would think he has the right to do such a thing - stalk a 14 year old and scare her - simply because he appreciates how she looks in modern swimwear or lingerie. it's not a good thing, has caused a few girls to retire before their time, and gives the overall business a bad reputation that is used to make things harder for webmasters.
As I worked on correcting and updating this over the weekend I happened along a show on TV about dance teams - much like cheerleading teams. In the episode there was a debate about the outfits the girls wore and how they moved their hips, because video from a practice session was posted to social media and a couple of outsiders called the teen girls "whores". Now some of the girls want to quit the team, while a grandma wants to make the girls change to dresses that look like Dorothy in The Wizard of OZ. Only one mom, out of 5 shown, tried to stand up for the girl's routine and costumes, while the rest wanted to shut it all down.
Sound familiar? Sound like some social media harassment many of our favorite models have faced?
Up above I talked about the desires of photographers to be "Liked" on social media, including ModelMayhem. I learned first hand in the past 6 months how worthless those "Likes" are when judging a photographer.
Three times since June photographers have contacted me wanting to shoot for TeenGlamourGirls (2) or TrueBabes (1). Each of the three wrote with links to a Facebook page, ModelMayhem page or both and mentioned how many "friends" they had, connections with models they had, or how many "Likes" they receive when they post photos from recent shoots.
I reviewed models with all three guys, set up for them to shoot a model, sent a box with outfits and shoes, and provided a $1000 advance payment.
All three guys failed to do the shoot they had contracted for. All three next stated they are unable to send back the money, each providing some sort of excuse about how they "used it to keep my car from get repossessed", or "used it on another project but that website didn't pay me so now I'm out the cash", or "I got ripped off by somebody". Lies or bullshit from all of them.
The real point is this; Each guy had tons of "Likes" on his pictures posted on social media, but that is no gauge of success. If it meant they are true businessmen/photographers and was a sign of professionalism, why would they be so broke they have to pay me back in tiny monthly payments?
A few days ago I learned that our friends over at TeenStarlet have made the tough decision to shut down the site. I haven't yet talked to them directly but did see a short noticed online in which they mentioned many of the same issues I cite above, and discussed last month when I announced the coming closure of TeenGlamourGirls - lack of new models and photographers, and all the hassles associated with piracy.
I'm sad to see that site go away. I didn't agree with a few of the business tactics they had in the beginning, but in general my hope has always been that there would be more sites and they would be run by dedicated professional webmasters.
The theory was that the more sites the better because the teen model website business would eventually become "normalized" - meaning people would no longer think of it as odd, risky, exploitive or taboo. The more "normal" it would seem to models the more that would want to participate and the easier it would be to get her parents to agree. The more common or normal the sites became the more fans cruising the Internet that came across them would feel comfortable subscribing.
More sites could have meant more fun and money for everybody on the production side - webmasters, photographers and models - and hundreds of more models for pretty girl fans to admire.
Yes, of course there will be more guys trying to start more websites with more teen girls in the coming years. My point today is that I think the best years of the teen model website business are behind us, not coming back and there are many diverse reasons for that.
Our hope now, as fans of American teen models, is that the tides shift again someday soon. Maybe Facebook will eventually fade away like Myspace, and showing off will become acceptable again, and girls will not want to simply "fit in" but desire to be "hotter" than the next girl and do something daring to prove it.
Don't hold your breath...
January 20th, 2015
Littleton, Colorado. USA