Skip to content Skip to footer
Model horror stories

Model horror stories that make us appreciate the job so much more

Horror stories of models on set make us quiver, as modeling is already an extremely vulnerable job. Learning of the gross injustices models have to deal with from toxic photographers only adds to our appreciation for them.

The job is not all glitz and glamour. A lot of people would be surprised to know that trying to break into the modeling industry is a lot harder than just looking good.

Seasoned models and influencers know that the modeling industry can be tough and has its dark side, too. Reading about the horrors that can happen to models, especially young girls trying to get their start in the industry, teaches lessons about what to look out for.

A toxic photographer conducts himself inappropriately

After being offered four hundred dollars for a 3-hour lingerie shoot at 19, model and reddit user rebelwithacausex made an effort to reach out to others who worked with the photographer prior to the shoot. A smart, safe move.

Many of us know that there are too many toxic photographers out there. They use their cameras as an excuse to get models vulnerable.

So, rebelwithacausex was asked to come to a hotel, where the shoot was to be shot. She also made sure to bring a male friend along to the shoot, in case things got weird.

And weird they got.


The photographer, named Jay, answered the door wearing nothing but a white robe. Even worse, he seemed to have an erection.

rebelwithacausex wrote:

“FIRST RED FLAG! HOW INAPPROPRIATE TO BE ANSWERING THE DOOR WITH A ROBE ON AND A HALF CHUB. I immediately starting having a panic attack. He greeted me and apologized for being in a robe saying he just got out the shower.”


Gross and lewd encounters occur when models are expected to be at their most vulnerable

Jay offered her champagne, probably because she seemed nervous. The model then continued:

“…as he was taking my picture I could see his creepy boner rising. That’s when I got dressed and freaked out on him. I demanded my pay and told him he was gross and unprofessional, I felt betrayed because he told me he wasn’t like that and the models confirmed he was professional or should I say not a serial killer. I left the hotel room crying while my guy friend threatened the dude on our way out. As a woman I felt repulsed that this man was getting a boner, half naked and making advances toward me, was getting horny and was a genuine creep.”

Sexual harassment is unfortunately common among female models and influencers, especially at their most vulnerable. And even often photographers or producers are the perpetrators.

Luckily, the model made sure to spread as much information online on modeling forums about this creep as she could. And our appreciation for models telling their harrowing stories cannot be stressed enough.

My level of appreciation for models, having to deal with creeps and egomaniacs all the time just skyrocketed.

A producer’s gross affinity rears its ugly head

Model and influencer Natalia Taylor confides in her viewers about all of the ups and downs in modeling.

Being a model since the age of 12, she’s been hospitalized and severely injured during shoots, but in one video entitled “DISTURBING PHOTOSHOOT: Modeling Horror Story,” she shares what she considers her “weirdest” shoot.

She describes getting her start at the famous John Casablancas modeling school. The school hosts paid sessions where the students could pay to “get comfortable in front of the camera,” Taylor said.

Though Taylor was just starting as a fourteen-year-old, she laughs looking back at the cringe-worthy wardrobe the stylists gave her to work with.

Being uncomfortable and feeling like a fish out of water is normal for people who have no experience in front of the camera. “It gets better, ladies and gentlemen. This is where it all begins,” Taylor said.

At the beginning of the video, Natalia Taylor alludes to a scandal about infamous Nickelodeon producer Dan Schneider and his affinity for underaged girls and feet. Taylor chuckles, describing her uncomfortable experience with the photoshoot turning into what she called a “foot photoshoot.”

“This looks like this would be on the cover of a foot fetish site,” Taylor says about a photo of herself where the bottoms of her feet are shown.

Natalia Taylor tells another, even more harrowing model horror story

In another of Natalia Taylor’s videos entitled “the photoshoot I regret.- modeling horror story,” she speaks on the seriousness of sexual harassment against models.

Taylor tells the story of meeting a photographer she enjoyed working with in the past for a test photoshoot.

“You should never assume that you know who you’re working with on a personal level,” Taylor said. She explained that it was her first mistake.

Natalia Taylor was around seventeen or eighteen years old at the time, and the photographer’s suggestion to do an underwear shoot was another red flag.

“I tried my best to communicate to the photographer that I wanted these images to be portrayed in a very elegant, classy, sophisticated, high-fashion perception,” Taylor said.

She didn’t want to cross the line of making the photos pornographic. To her dismay, once she got into the studio, she noticed there was a mattress laying on the floor, which turned out to be the photographer’s full-time living space. Being younger, she was more naive.

The horror story continues…

First, she was asked to model laying on the bed. Then, the photographer brought out a leather BSDM harness, asking her to model it for his friend’s website. At the time, she did not know what it was.

“I didn’t want to cause issues, I just wanted to go with the flow.”

Natalia Taylor

Towards the end of the shoot, the photographer asked Taylor to remove her top. Taylor described idolizing the Victoria’s Secret Angels models, and even seeing a high-end photoshoot that one of them did topless.

“In my mind, the answer was clear: no.”

Natalia Taylor

Taylor explained that the photographer was using classic manipulation tactics by chipping away at the boundaries she’d tried to make clear – taking photos on the mattress, using the harness, and now taking her top off.

Taylor even went through the trouble of posing while covering herself, but that wasn’t enough for the photographer, who only snapped shots of Taylor when she exposed while switching her arms to cover herself.

“I sort of closed myself off to the world after that happened because I felt dirty, I felt unclean, I felt like something bad had happened to me.”

Natalia Taylor

Eventually, the photographer uploaded the images to his personal photography website.

Finally, Taylor makes sure that viewers understand that the photographer would not have legally had to take the photos down if she had signed a release form.

Taylor has other videos sharing horror stories about modeling, like “My agent was a predator,” and “this photographer injured me for a photoshoot. I have footage.”

Luckily, there are several videos where Taylor explains different aspects of modeling.

A modeling horror story can happen to anyone

For aspiring models, Natalia Taylor and other brave people have shared their harrowing horror stories, and their experiences should be listened to closely.

Because a horror story can happen to anyone. Photographers and producers who have power over models sometimes use that power for nefarious means.

In search of a big break, models are at their most vulnerable. But models are also some of the most courageous people walking the Earth.

Hopefully, these horror stories will give you an appreciation for what models go through to get to where they are.

Photography horror stories that will shake any photographer to their core

Horror stories in photography and modeling are like old fables. You’re captivated by them, you are left thinking about them once they’re finished, and you never truly expect them to happen to you.

But horror stories in photography, modeling, or on any set, carry an extra sense of frightful intrigue because they can indeed happen to anyone. Avoiding disastrous horror stories as a photographer requires extreme patience, attention to detail, and yes, also luck.

Being a photographer can be rewarding, but it also comes with its fair share of difficulties: difficult clients who can’t seem to explain what exactly they don’t like about your photos, furry or young subjects who can’t sit still, and inexperienced and difficult models.

Here are some photographers who shared their horror stories of photo shoots gone wrong.

A model horror story that will scare even the most fearless photographers

Photography horror stories can sometimes occur out of nowhere. Sometimes, well-meaning models can end up causing mistakes that can then cost thousands to correct.


Reddit user ZapGaffigan wrote:

“The subject [asked] if they could ‘help’ as I unloaded gear and [picked] up my backpack without asking…which was unzipped and my precious 70-200 F2.8 fell out onto the concrete taking a perfect shot on the mount end. Force a smile and say ‘no worry, they’re tough.’ Not that tough.”

Reddit user ZapGaffigan

ZapGaffigan didn’t write about how much damage was done to the lens, but hopefully, he and the model both learned a valuable lesson about how horror stories can occur from the smallest (and even well-intentioned) mistakes.

A landscape photography horror story where the photographer got more than they bargained for

Exploring and landscape photography go hand in hand. Sometimes you can come across some pretty startling scenes.


User mavric91 wrote:

“Recently went on a road trip to Utah… Long story short, we decided to explore down the road a little farther [and] found a downed motorcycle.

Its rider was suffering from extreme heat stroke and dehydration. He was foaming at the mouth, hardly breathing, and unresponsive. I did what I could, but he pretty much died in my arms.

I had to race about forty minutes out of the canyon to find enough service to call 911. So, after waiting 3 hours for every one to show up, fill out reports, and after a helicopter landed on our campsite, we had had enough. It was dark, the bugs were atrocious, and we were tired. We drove out and got a hotel. I never even took a single picture, not even on my phone.”

This story goes to show that photography horror stories can happen to anybody, and they can also happen at any time.

Not only was mavric91 not able to get his work done for the day, but they were shaken emotionally to their core by witnessing such a violent travesty. Stay safe out there fam.

Photo shoot horror stories take place at sporting events too

Most people are probably worried about rogue balls flying at them when shooting at sporting events.


User StupidTinyFatUnicorn’s photography horror story is still quite unexpected.

“[I was] shooting soccer with a 300mm f2.8, one hecking heavy lens. I set the monopod on my shoulder like this, I take a few steps. I heard a horrifying crack followed by the sound of a $6000 lens bouncing on the concrete. The lens ripped the metal mount off the camera and became stuck to the lens mount.”

Maybe it was just a sign shooting wasn’t in the cards for StupidTinyFatUnicorn that day, and also, that they should be more prepared for disaster next time.

A horror story that is frightening in any situation, photoshoot or not

Everyone knows not to mess with pregnant women. Photographers, and models also, certainly do. Still, sometimes there is nothing you can do.


User cl0ckw0rkheart describes their nightmare photography experience with a pregnant subject:

“I started out in a commercial portrait studio. More often than not, I worked alone. My boss was a raging alcoholic and felt like everything was OK as long as I made sales. Telling a customer no was out of the question. I was in college and needed a paying job.

I have so many stories, but a very pregnant, very emotional woman comes to mind. This woman took off her clothes for her maternity shoot and tried to use my muslin as some sort of flowy drape on her naked body.

She had this picture from Pinterest that 1. Had been taken outdoors around dawn/dusk. 2. Had been lightroomed to hell and back. I had to bleach the muslins. I hate Pinterest.”

Hopefully, cl0ckw0rkheart learned a valuable lesson. Namely, that there are some boundaries as a photographer that need to be set.

Photography horror stories come in all shapes and sizes

Photography horror stories can take place on a photo shoot. They can take place on a quiet road. Photography horror stories can even occur when a model tries to do the right thing.

The point is, while these stories are extremely captivating, they are also inherently real.

Hiccups and obstacles come up when you least expect them, and still it is your job as a photographer or worker on set to be prepared to roll with the punches.

Cheap photography hacks to be resourceful without resources

No art is a science, and that includes photography. But photography requires a delicate combination of innovation and diligence, and thus, for many of us reeling financially or otherwise, cheap hacks to level up are essential.


Like all forms of art, photography can be extremely expensive, and if you’re just starting out, you’ll need to fill up your photography tool kit with some cheap hacks. Here are a few to help get you started.

A light tent/box is the simplest cheap hack in photography

A light tent is a box or tent meant to diffuse lighting from all angles, left open on one end so you can point your lens in and capture the subject. It works great for product photography as a cheap hack.

You can make your own with sections cut out of a cardboard box with tissues or tracing paper secured to each side.

Creative backgrounds allow you to unlock new, inspiring photographs

When it comes to backdrops, the more creative, the better.

You can use a clothing rail and a shower curtain, metallic streamers, or make your own sweep backdrop for your product photography.

Add a reflector to your photography tool kit

If you’ve turned on every available lamp, plus your homies have pulled out their cellphone cameras and that still isn’t cutting it, it might be time to add some reflectors to your photography tool kit.

Mirrors will work well enough, but tin foil or metallic wrapping paper wrapped around a piece of cardboard and propped up with two chip clips can help soften and reinforce light in the right direction.

Make your life a lot easier with a flash diffuser

A monumental cheap photography hack, a flash diffuser can be your best friend. Try something light and opaque that easily fits over the flip-top flash of your camera. It will work well to soften the flash.

Try using an x-acto knife or box cutter to cut the side length of a film container or plastic bathroom cup to slip over your flash when it’s too harsh, so it won’t reflect weirdly on your portrait subjects’ faces, making them look oily or greasy.

Filters allow your photography game to reach the next level

Cheap photography hacks for making your own filters will help you avoid spending money on expensive editing software.

Try stretching pantyhose or other translucent fabrics over or around your lens, like lace or a wool scarf. You could also surround the edges of your lens with a plastic bag to create soft lens flares.

Photographers need cheap hacks to up their creativity. Don’t ever be discouraged by trying something new.

These cheap photography hacks are sure to get you started. Try experimenting and see if you can find some of your own favorites!

Smart side hustles successful creatives body daily to get ahead

Nearly half of all Americans work side-hustles to make ends meet. Food delivery, ride shares, dog walking, pet, baby and house sitting are common and smart side hustles to make extra income.

Maybe you can’t make a dent in your student loans or just need a little extra money to make ends meet after an emergency. Most of us are in the same boat.

When looking for a smart side hustle, make sure you pursue something that’s both enjoyable and fulfilling. Therefore you won’t get burnt out too fast, and it can help add things to your portfolio or resume and may even give you networking opportunities.

Given the pandemic, lots of people are looking for remote ways to make money as well, such as offering services through apps.

Freelancing can get you bread

Seriously consider freelancing. A lot of people are freelancers as their full-time gig, but it’s a great way to make revenue regardless.

More than one-third of the American workforce freelanced amid the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, contributing $1.2 trillion to the U.S. economy. Plus, of those who quit their full-time job in order to freelance, 75% said they earn the same or more than when they had a traditional employer.

Furthermore, according to Zip Recruiter, the average annual salary in 2019 for freelance writers in the United States was $63,488. And the average freelance writer made $31 an hour.


So while freelancing might not seem like the go-to smart side hustle, put quite simply, it really can be. If you’re mired in the muck of a job you don’t like, check out how much money freelance workers are getting in your industry.

There are thousands of apps you can use to offer your services, and then people always need help working on their resumes, cover letters, e-mail content for their small businesses, newsletters for local organizations and churches, you name it.

If you’re a writer, copyeditor, coder, or graphic designer, freelancing through Fiverr, Thumbtack, Upwork, Freelancer and Guru are major platforms meant for conducting business. Freelancing also flows nicely into most other services you can offer on online platforms.

Tutoring is the come up

Similar to freelancing, your skills and talents can also rake in some extra cash by offering lessons through a video platform. Teach a language, or have a lesson remotely and safely on music production, personal training, cooking, video editing, coding, music and/or art.

You can then upload lessons through a paywalled website like OnlyFans, Skillshare, or any of the previous classified-type websites and apps.

Tutors, on average, made an average salary of $32,360 in 2020 with an hourly wage of $16 per hour. While this salary does not break the bank, tutors who refine their skills and gain experience in the business make a lot more hourly and annually because of it.

Tutoring is not just a smart side hustle, but a great way to feel like you’re making a positive difference in someone else’s life.

Translating and transcribing is a wave

Like tutoring and freelancing, offering your knowledge of a second language and captioning video content can be pretty lucrative. Offer your services through the aforementioned apps and help connect different worlds through language. While not a crazy side hustle, translating and transcribing is doing a difficult task that should yield good money.


This is a smart side hustle that falls under the radar. People (often who have been doing it their whole lives) don’t tend to think about making a profit translating. That is because it’s what they’ve been doing their whole lives for free for their family.

But the game is the game, and we do live in a capitalist sphere in this country. Get a bag for your unique skill (which it is), and also feel proud for your helping someone else. Translators make on average, according to Zip Recruiter, $29 per hour right now in 2021.


Similarly, transcribing can be a lucrative side hustle. TranscribeMe averages a payout of $15-$22 per audio hour, and Scribie offers $5 to $25 per audio hour. As in many things, it depends on the amount of work you put in, so get to it.

Thrift and flip

Thrifting has become trendy in recent years with vintage fashion bloggers and YouTubers, and for good reason.

Fashion has a habit of moving in cycles, and grandparents’ clothes are likely to come back in style for teens who’ve devoted their persona to a certain aesthetic.

To add to this, thrifting isn’t just for clothes. There are collectors out there who are willing to pay big bucks for what you consider to be dust-collectors. Alexandra Marquez, a 23-year-old student, opened Poshmark one day, and now makes $5,000 a month selling vintage clothing.

Dig around in your attic or your grandparents’ creepy basement and you’ll then probably be surprised what price people are willing to pay for what you find.

What starts out as making a pretty penny can blossom into a full-fledged business. Just look at Reclaimed Womxn Vintage, started by Tahia Islam as a way to curb sweatshops around the world. Reclaimed was a way to reclaim vintage clothing for people of color, and femmes of color in particular.

Smart side hustles to get ahead

America is devolving into a gig economy and most everyone has several streams of income. Don’t be afraid to ask for your worth in your hourly rate.

You might even find that your smart side hustle ends up being more lucrative than whatever your full-time gig is. And what better feeling is there than feeling financially secure? Especially from side jobs that required you to be creative, innovative, and diligent.

MLK lessons that still empower us today but creatively

Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday is on the 18th of January, and in a tumultuous time in our country, all people, creatives alike, can take lessons from MLK as we continue into the uncertainty of 2021.

As a preacher’s son, MLK himself grew to be a preacher and gained lifelong practice in being an eloquent public speaker.

Though he’s most known for his ‘I Have A Dream’ speech and ‘Letter from A Birmingham Jail,’ there are other lesser-known quotes and speeches from MLK that can teach creatives old and new valuable lessons about any craft. As MLK day comes and passes, remember these.

Practice Makes Perfect

No work is insignificant. All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.”


We create because we want to bring something new to the global conversation. This MLK lesson must always be remembered during the grind.


Sticking to the same techniques, without growing and improving in your craft is a disservice. Life is worth learning and continuing to grow into a better artist.

Look up new techniques, ask artists you admire for tips and tricks. Sooner than later, you’ll be glad you did.

Embrace the Struggle

“Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think.”


Nothing feels more debilitating than artist’s block.


Sometimes taking a step back from the piece you’re struggling over to start a new piece, or remix an old one, is the solution. Occupy yourself with something different for a change until you’re ready to look at your frustrating piece with fresh eyes.

Lean into Change

“There comes a time when people get tired of being pushed out of the glittering sunlight of life’s July and left standing amid the piercing chill of an alpine November.”


As a creative, you have to be willing to try new things. One of the best ways to get past artist’s block or writer’s block, or any other block is to try a new medium.


Usually work in watercolor? Try pen and ink! Usually stick to photography? Try writing a song! Sometimes you can find a new love just by trying new things. Throw a few different creative ideas at the wall and see what sticks.

With MLK day approaching, we owe it to the iconic activist and freedom fighter to keep creating and do so with our virtues intact. Remember, practice makes perfect, embrace the struggle, and lean into change.


MLK, while not our first thought of a creative, most certainly was, with his beautiful prose and oration. Thus, his lessons are paramount for creatives to always remember.

Martin Luther King Jr.’s spirit lives on, and these days we need to remember his words urgently.

What is Kugali Media? Nigeria and Disney collab on new show Iwájú

Nigeria’s Kugali Media and Disney are partnering together to create a new science-fiction series: Iwájú.

Pixar’s ‘Soul’ was the studio’s first film to feature a Black lead. And it is just one of Disney’s many recent moves to produce more diverse stories.

Disney declared in 2019 that the company would make a concerted effort to focus more on diversity. In both its offices and stories.

Then, in a historic collaboration, Disney announced that Disney Animation will partner with Nigerian digital entertainment company Kugali.

Nigeria and Disney collaborate. But what is Kugali Media?

Kugali is the product of entrepreneur Ziki Nelson, CG artist Hamid Ibrahim, and also videogame developer Toluwalakin Olowofuyeku. The company above all else aims to bring authentic African tradition and storytelling to the rest of the world. And they will do so through beautifully illustrated graphic novels, animation, and augmented reality.

Together with Disney, Kugali will bring Iwájú, an animated science-fiction series, to Disney Plus in 2022. Based on the widely acclaimed cultural impact and success of Marvel’s Black Panther, Iwájú’s afro-futuristic style and also focus on African characters is set to be a crowd-pleaser.

More diverse stories to come

Nigeria and Disney’s collaboration with Kugali also isn’t the only thing Disney’s doing for those calling for more diverse properties.

Disney also announced a freshly diversified cast for a live-action remake of The Little Mermaid. The film will feature Halle Bailey as Ariel, Awkwafina as Scuttle, Daveed Diggs as Sebastian, and also Javier Bardem as King Triton. And even a soundtrack by Lin-Manuel Miranda, due to release this November.

An animated series based on Moana with the same title, and Tiana, based on The Princess and The Frog, will also be joining Disney Plus in 2023.

In addition, Miranda will be writing music for Encanto, a new movie still in development set in Colombia. These projects follow Pixar’s shorts Bao and Out and also the live-action remake of Mulan.

Disney’s resolve to champion diversity

Last summer, in the wake of national uprisings over the killing of George Floyd, Disney was among one of the many corporations claiming to make “real change” by taking diversity, equity, and inclusion more seriously.

In a now-public letter sent to employees, executives then promised to use “compassion, creative ideas, and a collective sense of humanity to foster a culture that acknowledges feelings and pain.”

Furthermore, Disney emphasized that its employees are held dear. The company’s 2019 corporate responsibility report then stated that “talent recruiting, retention, and development efforts prioritize the cultivation of a strong, diverse, and thriving workforce, with 44% of [Disney’s] U.S. employees identifying as people of color.”

Disney has clearly noticed it pays to appeal to a wider audience, and thus the coming years are only the tip of the iceberg for more diverse stories to come.

The Watcher trio proves there is always room to grow as creatives

The Watcher series, available to support on Patreon, and tune in on YouTube, is a firm example that creatives, regardless of what is thrown their way, can create anywhere.

You might know Ryan Bergara and Shane Madej from their highly-memed banter on Buzzfeed Unsolved.

Together with their friend Steven Lim from Buzzfeed’s hit food show Worth It, they decided to branch out from Buzzfeed to create Watcher, an independent production studio channel on YouTube.

We had a chance to chop it up with the delightfully exuberant and creative trio. Anyone looking to create their own content or stay creatively inspired should take advice from this adventurous group of content creators.

The Watcher series’ trio’s beginnings

The Watcher Patreon series launched in late 2019. 2020 proved the series’ strong start wasn’t an accident. Thanks to loyal fans and Patreon, the trio was able to stay afloat and thus learn some valuable lessons about taking creative risks.

“We realized that some of our ideas and some of the brand that we wanted to create, needed a home that would cultivate them in a bigger way,” Bergara, 30, said.

Branching out to Watcher and Patreon was a way to fulfill their ideas and be “completely creatively free.”

“The ability to make whatever content that was interesting to me at that time or whatever content is interesting to me tomorrow, that opportunity and that flexibility was something that was a major influence for me to keep growing.”

Ryan Bergara

At Buzzfeed, the trio got the chance to hone their skills in making great content. And then this gave them the confidence to jump into something new.

Cultivating a following

“The stuff we made at Buzzfeed had grown this really vocal and dedicated and supportive fanbase. It really shaped a lot of the stuff we did. We were still following our instincts. But it was a really vocal community and it was great to interact with them,” said Madej, 34.

Through Patreon, Madej, Lim, and Bergara gave fans the chance to interact with them in Discord. And this helps them get feedback on the shows for Watcher.

“We sort of had all these disparate hubs for people to give us feedback about the shows. So that’s why Patreon was such a welcome addition to our ecosystem when it came to branching out into Watcher.”

Shane Madej

Bergara said that there was an infrastructure provided at Buzzfeed before they started Watcher on Patreon. But learning to do the back-end things was a challenge.

“There were teams [at Buzzfeed] for every level of production that would help us bring our ideas to life, and now on our own, we realized we had to provide all of that ourselves. Either by doing it literally ourselves like people in startups do, or by hiring the right people,” Bergara said.

Luckily, funding from loyal patrons helped make the entertainment of Watcher possible.

Patreon’s impact on the Watcher series

“I can honestly say that if it wasn’t for Patreon, there’s no way that we would’ve been able to do this, just because without that lifeblood coming into the company, I don’t see a way where we could make the things that we needed to make or that we wanted to make without those resources,” said Bergara.

But it wasn’t just the funding the trio have to thank their patrons for. Madej said the fans, who tend to be younger and female, enjoy watching them make content that they’re actually passionate about making.

“Knowing that we know what to toss into the pot to cook up a good series, I think, was a good fit for Patreon because people know how much of that really comes from our own genuine passion and fascination with the stuff that we cover,” he said.

“It was one of the leading philosophies that went into us making this company. We really only want to make stuff that we’re genuinely interested in that we have an earnest curiosity about, so I think that is further motivation for people to invest in the company in a way.”

Ryan Bergara

Getting started with a new show

It was easier taking off with a robust fanbase of over one million subscribers in place. But Watcher was still quite young by the time the pandemic made its way to North America, which proved challenging.

Luckily, the Watcher team was flexible and learned valuable lessons along the way.

“Don’t start a business in 2020,” Madej said, half-joking. Originally, the goal for the Watcher series was to create a platform to spotlight other creators.

“We started this whole thing with a very specific voice and a specific vision for what the company could be but given the constraints of the pandemic we really did have to pivot quite a bit in terms of what can we actually shoot given the state of the world.”

Ryan Bergara

Luckily, the team had a backup plan.

“We shot a fair amount of our content ahead of time before we even launched so that we had basically six to eight months of content shot before we launched, because we figured you never know what could happen,” Bergara said.

Little did they know that the pandemic would make them burn through nearly every ounce of their contingency plan and get to the bottom of their well of content.

The pandemic’s impact on The Watcher trio

The pandemic taught them to be malleable. They fortunately had a trove of content that had already been shot. And this set them apart from other channels that were constrained to shooting things during the lockdown.

“We had to come up with literally new series that were conducive to remote shooting. In terms of things that could break the camel’s back here, I do think that if we didn’t shoot all that content out before the pandemic hit and before launch, that would have been very tough,” Bergara solemnly stated.

When the pre-pandemic content ran out, they played with the idea of making covid-related content. As time continued, they realized people wanted to ignore the horrible realities of the pandemic and find comfort in their entertainment instead.

They then found that one of their shows, “Are You Scared?” perfectly adapted to the conditions of the pandemic in a subtle way.

“Ryan wanted to do this campfire tales show. But then he realized this is perfect for pandemic shooting because we can both be hunched in front of our computers,” Madej said.

“Ryan was like, ‘when I read these things, I’m hunched over my computer at two AM with this creepy glow illuminating my face’. So we just changed the show to be pandemic friendly without being overtly pandemic, and people can watch it in five years and be like, ‘oh, good show!’ without really being like, ‘ah yes, they were trapped in their homes.'”

Shane Madej

An expanding audience

Madej has noticed more tweets from parents who are watching their shows, indicating their audience is expanding. This is good news, considering the Watcher series is not just short 15-minute videos like other YouTube channels.

“Maybe it’s because people are home more now, but I’ll get a lot of dads or moms tweeting at me who seem to watch our stuff begrudgingly at first, because maybe they’re like, ‘oh, some more internet jackasses,'” honestly said Madej.

“To be fully transparent, we are internet jackasses. But I think there’s a commitment to some form of quality in certain aspects with every show.”

Shane Madej

They have a variety of shows, from spooky, to food, to funny history content. All of which they’re proud of. The trio attribute the expansion of their audience to the diversity of shows, which they also look forward to expanding.

Specific Watcher shows to tap into

“‘Are You Scared?’ is not informational or educational, but the way it’s executed and just the style of it is incredible. It seems like something you’d see on Netflix,” Madej said.

“‘Puppet History’ is loaded up with actual educational content despite it having plenty of poop jokes; Steven’s food content is heartwarming and educational, and it makes my mouth water.”

Shane Madej

Looking toward 2021, the three are grateful to their patrons for helping them make Watcher a reality.

“Just that there are people out there willing to put their hard-earned money up just to support something that they believe in, is obviously inspiring just from the sentiment alone, but it finally then allows you to do it,” Bergara passionately said.

“I do think it’s opened up an avenue for all kinds of creators to take a shot at their dreams, and ourselves included.”

Ryan Bergara

Mob photography: The daring who captured a violent history

American mob photography exposes the brutalities and grisly nature of that underground world. While there are the more famous photo of John Gotti in the courtroom and the iconic mugshot of Joey Gallo, other photographers of the past have captured a more authentic portrayal of the American mob.

Photography isn’t always shooting portraits to make people realize their inner beauty. Like any art, photographs don’t have to depict something beautiful. Sometimes the most striking and powerful images depict ugliness. Sometimes, photography is about shooting bloody corpses.

Thus, these three photographers deserve great acclaim for their ability to capture in their photography the heart of what it means to be in the American mafia.

The connected Arthur “Weegee” Fellig

Since the early 20th century, photojournalists have captured the harsh and gritty realities of urban crime. For example, there was Ukrainian American photographer Arthur “Weegee” Fellig.

Fellig captured black and white photos of early New York during the ’30s and ’40s with a heavy Speed Graphic camera with an attachable flashbulb.

Fellig’s fame grew after he snapped Dominick Didato laying dead in a pool of his own blood. The photo, which was taken in 1936, was celebrated as a capture of a mob killing.

mob photography
Murder victim David Beadle, known as David the Beetle, in front of the Spot Beer Tavern in Manhattan, with Weegee and a police officer in 1939. Bettmann/Getty Images.

He also photographed Dutch Schultz, Jack “Legs” Diamond, and Vincent “Mad Dog” Coll in jail.

Fellig’s connections gave him the advantage over other photojournalists. He lived above a police supply store near police headquarters and frequented the Headquarters Tavern, a restaurant where officers and journalists often shared stories.

He also owned a police radio permit, allowing him to hear of breaking stories before competitors. Fellig also wrote that he made friends with many criminals, including pimps, gangsters, and thieves.

A dangerous occupation, practically living and practicing photography with some of the most dangerous and ruthless American mob members. But surely, one that Fellig believed was worth it.

Shooting the Mafia with Letizia Battaglia

The 2019 documentary Shooting the Mafia gave praise to Italian photographer Letizia Battaglia for her photography which raised awareness about the toll of mob violence in Italy.

Battaglia started at a newspaper, living with death threats. She referred to her crime photographs of the ’70s and ’80s as her “archive of blood.” Two of her photos even played an important role in linking mafioso Nino Salvo to former Italian Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti.

Confronting dangerous, violent hypermasculinity with her camera, Battaglia is an excellent example of a photographer and a woman who was unafraid. She even staged an exhibition of her photos in a neighborhood that was under heavy control by several mob bosses.

The man who captured Al Capone: Junnosuke Fujita

Many have seen the gruesome photos of the famous Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre, but few know the name behind the lens.

Only last year was Junnosuke Fujita (Jun for short), America’s first Japanese American photojournalist, recognized for his photography and poetry.

Jun Fujita photographed the dead bodies of gangsters from George “Bugs” Moran’s gang, murdered Feb. 14, 1929, at the garage at 2122 N Clark St. in Chicago, by Al Capone’s gang, led by “Machine Gun Jack” McGurn. It became known as the St Valentine’s Day Massacre. (Topical Press Agency / Getty Images)

Starting in Chicago with camera in hand, knowing only about one hundred English words, Fujita was up to a challenge.

He became the only photojournalist for the Chicago Evening Post and gained fame with a photograph from the capsizing of the SS Eastland.

Fujita photographed celebrities and mobsters, including mob boss Al Capone as a part of his catalog of mafia photography.

Fujita faced hardship during the ’40s when the United States determined him to be an enemy alien. This was despite having lived in the country for over 30 years. But the Japanese internment camps are a dark stain on American history.

His artworks extended to poetry and color photographs, in which he explored the difficulty of being a Japanese American in the Midwest. Only about 5 percent of Japanese Americans lived outside of Hawaii and the West Coast at the time.

To the next generation of gangster and mob photography

Fellig, Battaglia, and Fujita all were masters of their craft in mafia photography. It is as dangerous a gig as there ever was, especially back a half-century or more ago.

It took bravery, innovation, and a heavy stomach to witness what they did. And then want to help share it with the rest of the world.

Are your artworks worth anything? Creatives give us tips on value

An artwork’s value is an evaluation that can only be made by the artist themselves. Art valuation is integral to where an artist sees themselves, and how they then approach clients.

Artists, or anyone trying to successfully run a small business, whether it’s a clothing brand, or homemade skincare and cosmetics, knows this struggle: clients and friends are always asking for free or discounted work.

Unfortunately, handing out friend and family discounts left and right isn’t a sustainable business model. And thus, understanding and maintaining your artwork’s value is paramount to becoming a successful artist.

These three artists shared their art valuation tips on how they control the financial aspects of sustaining themselves while doing what they love.

Where does the market for art stand right now?

AJ Mehta is a 31-year-old multidisciplinary artist based in New Jersey. These days, he mainly works in acrylics, though being a painter isn’t necessarily his end goal. He says artists are doing well right now.

“I don’t think consumers are undervaluing art as much as artists think they are. I think the art market right now is probably the best it’s ever been. You see kids who are still in high school making a career out of it, like, that’s amazing!” passionately declared Mehta.

“I think you need to understand that there are different levels of the art market and different levels of consumers. As an emerging artist, you’re only gonna get so much for your work, ‘cause you’ve only been working for so long. I think there’s also this other issue of people getting confused with auction house prices and consumer prices, cause that’s not the same thing.”

AJ Mehta

Art valuation tips from fellow creatives

Ladon Alex is a 21-year-old digital illustration student based in Little Rock, Arkansas. He started getting paid to make artwork for people while he was still in high school. It was clear from then on, he knew his artwork’s value.

“I think when you’re starting out as an artist, it’s kind of understood that you will be underselling your work for quite a while and you have to keep working and know when to cut that off. People are always gonna want a lower price,” Alex said.

He began to increase his price incrementally as time went on.

“You don’t want to raise it and then have to lower it again. You want some sort of consistency for your own sake,” he added.

As his portfolio began to grow, so did his talent – and he learned how to control his pricing along the way.

“You need to start building up your portfolio and get your name out there somehow. A lot of it is a social value thing, where who you work with will affect your price. If I did a cover for Beyonce today, my price is gonna look a lot different tomorrow,” explained Alex.

Alex says continuing to make work will help creatives manage their value and stick up for themselves. This is a consistent creative value tip from artists.

Staying true to your artwork’s value

24-year-old Baltimore-based artist Vinnie Hager’s work uses various symbols and lines which adorn everything from clothing to furniture.

He echoes Alex’s sentiment.

“The biggest thing that I think about is sticking to my price, and if a customer isn’t satisfied or that’s not in their realm, then just be honest with the customer and explain why you charge that much, your process of creating artwork and maybe even bringing up other similar instances where the artist stuck with their price,” he said.

Like Alex said, it’s easy to get discouraged when no one is willing or enthusiastic about paying the price, but Hager encourages staying firm.

“I would never give a discount for your work; I think you should always steadily increase your pricing as long as a lot of your work and commissions are steady. Never devalue your work and just stay true to your own practice and work.”

“I think artists should stand by their prices and be firm and not devalue their own work. I don’t think any customers’ opinions, especially if they’re not artists, should trigger an artist to devalue their work or think any less of their own work. Artists should stand by their price and [be] firm with that,” Hager concluded.

Building relationships can be just as important as monetary gain

Alex and Hager both agree that creatives should always be upfront about their pricing and honest about their capacity – even if it means turning down a big project. Alex said he paid someone back when he couldn’t deliver on what they wanted, which is understandable for student creatives.

He said that even if you do end up lowering your price, you should at least gain a good relationship with a valuable client that can help you with networking or other opportunities later on down the road.

“Sometimes certain people will hit you up and you can get easily persuaded by who that person is; if they’re a big musician or something like that, and you just have to weigh that. [Through] the years, [I] have [definitely] done work for musicians and people that I liked for a lot lower than I probably should have.”

Ladon Alex

“I don’t regret all of it because I do think it’s important to just build relationships, but I think that you definitely have to know where that line is and understand your worth and just have some integrity about yourself when you’re going through that. People respect that.

I think you’ll weed out people looking for lower prices and not really caring about the artwork specifically or the fact that you’re making the artwork, they just want something pretty and cheap,” Alex concluded.

Art valuation tips 101: Understand the project fully before being commissioned

To avoid making work for a lower price that could become unsustainable, Alex makes sure to ask clarifying questions about the project for which he’s being commissioned.

“I usually ask them what their budget is, or tell them my price for what they’re doing after asking for a few questions for details for my sake. I don’t think anyone’s ever countered with a lower price; they either say they can do it or can’t do it.”

Hager said that sometimes he gets asked for commissioned work that doesn’t fit his style of artwork. He has to make an art valuation as to whether or not it’s worth it to take on the project.

“Sometimes, people that have something in their head that they want commissioned don’t understand how the artist works, or how their artwork would be conveyed into the language that they have in their head,” he said.

“When you have to explain to them that that’s not in your realm of doing, they can kind of get upset.”

Vinnie Hager

For example, someone may ask him to make a portrait of their family’s dog. Because that doesn’t fit with Hager’s work, the customer will get upset and begin to devalue the work that he does create.

But it is important for creatives to know that their artwork’s value is ultimately determined by themselves, and no one else.

An artwork’s value is determined by the artist

“It’s important for artists to not get discouraged if you keep saying prices and nobody wants to pay that amount. I think a lot of artists get discouraged when people don’t wanna pay certain prices and so they keep devaluing their work, which I think is kind of backwards in a sense,” Hager said.

Hager said the main thing is time, materials and size to help artists determine their pricing. And his art valuation tips have never felt more important.

“For my practice, obviously size is a big pricing point. The bigger the size, the more expensive it’ll be. The time I spend on it is a large factor, and the amount of money I had to spend on materials is something else I have to factor in. As somebody starting out, I’d definitely think of those three main things.”

Vinnie Hager

Final art valuation advice from Mehta, Alex, and Hager

Hager’s advice for new artists was straightforward.

“For any new artists starting out, just make as much work as you can. Post it on the internet and a lot of opportunities will come from there. I’m sure there will be bumps in the road. I’m always learning different things. Just stay firm in the price of your work and your value and keep practicing and just keep creating,” he said.

Mehta’s advice for artists who are just starting to ask for money for their work echoes this.

“It’s scary when you first get into it because you don’t wanna set your prices too high and scare people away, but I think if you really believe in your work, it’s worth holding out. Your work is worth it. You’ll find someone who loves your work; there’s people who are out there. Don’t devalue your own work. If a customer wants to, whatever; that’s on them, that’s not on you. You don’t need to stoop to that.”

AJ Mehta

All three artists said they were encouraged by the community of artists online who support each other and said not to be afraid to reach out.

“It’s scary, cause everyone treats it like a competition, but it’s not. It’s collaborative; we riff off of each other all the time. Artists look at other artists’ work and it shows up in their work; that’s just how it works,” Mehta said.

With time and intention, any artist can break into the field they desire. But to maintain freedom and peace of mind, creatives must properly value their artworks. These three artists and their art valuation tips are a quick blueprint to maintaining artistic control and value.

Photographers flock to these secret getaway locations, but why tho?

Secret getaways are as important for photographers as they are for other professionals. More important even, as photographers need to reinvigorate their inspirations consistently as travel photographers, to always stay in pursuit of the perfect shot.

Visiting a new place gives photographers the opportunity to capture sublime the locals may find mundane. But if you’re a photographer on vacation or just out of your element, everything is worthy of being captured.

If you’re a photographer in need of a vacation spot or a secret getaway, try a change of scenery with one of the six places below.

Marrakesh, Morocco

Marrakesh is a city filled with history and culture. Explore the beauty of Islamic architecture by exploring its mosques and madrasas, bazaars and gardens.

Still, there are important things to know about Marrakesh before visiting, both for an optimal experience and so you can get the best photographs in the best places the city has to offer.

Among the most beautiful spots are the Koutoubia Mosque, Kasbah Mosque, and the Ibn Yusuf Mosque. Marrakesh is simply put one of the perfect secret getaways for photographers.


Vietnam’s dreamlike landscape of rice paddies, irrigation terraces and waterfalls will provide a stunning opportunity to capture photographs of provincial life.

Visit Mu Cang Chai to see the sparkling green terraces and rice paddies in Hoa Binh, or then visit the historic capital city of Hanoi to see the architecture and enjoy street food. Just whatever you do, get to Vietnam.

As far as photographers’ vacation spots go, Vietnam is clearly one of the best.

Venice, Italy

Venice is another historic city known for its art and architecture. From almost any angle, the city is picture-perfect, especially amongst the Grand Canal.

Visit the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute, and Mark’s Square. Also the Galleria Giorgio alla Ca’ d’Oro. There is history in every corner, and also vibrant culture taking place on every block.

Get out there photographers for your secret getaways and capture it. There are few travel photographer locations better than this.


India is a beautiful, vibrant, and colorful landscape of different smells and sights, not to mention thousands of years of culture and tradition. See flamingos, waterfalls and also temples in Tamil Nadu or snap cultural displays and demonstrations in Rajasthan and Jaipur.

As with all vacation destinations, stay aware of your surroundings, but photographers looking for a getaway can hardly find a better place to fall back in love with photography than in India.

Victoria Falls, Zambia and Zimbabwe

Victoria Falls is the largest waterfall in the world. Snap photos of rainbows, fog, and mist that can be seen from miles away. Ultimately, there is just nothing like Victoria Falls on the rest of the Earth.

Like all photographers’ vacation spots, a trip to Victoria Falls should be planned out thoroughly. But unlike other photographers’ secret getaway locations, Victoria Falls can be seen from both Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Thus, photographers should plan out well how they can get their perfect footage, while still being blown away by the sublime sights South central Africa. Travel photographers should be chomping at the bit to get here.

Namib Desert, Namibia

An endless horizon of orange dunes in the Namib Desert then kissing a blue horizon is all you should need to hear to draw you to this region of Namibia.

Visit the famous Spitzkoppe, one of the most photographed mountain sites of Namibia, or then the Sossusvlei Dunes. There will be much to see. But as all photographers know, it’s about more than just what is out there, but what you’re able to capture.

Travel photographers should set their plans as soon as possible to get to the Namib desert.

In street photography, curious onlookers might approach you to get their portraits taken. You would then be wise to listen to their stories and capture their personalities with your photos.

Try to capture the beauty of the new landscapes around you on your photographer’s secret getaway. Get shots of the new wildlife you witness playing or interacting, and then watch your portfolio once you go home expand.

Instead of going somewhere new with the purpose of simply capturing images of things that look cool, try to make your photos tell a story. Show what it’s like to be an outsider to a new culture, a new environment, a new way of life.

Photographers need secret getaways just like the rest of us. But the beauty in it, is that photographers get to hone in on their crafts while they do.