Today I asked for ripoff stories from students of charlatan photography workshop instructors. My email box was FLOODED with stories of outrageous full-out greed. I know that great workshops exist, but they are few compared to the the unorganized, untrained events run by those who are good at marketing falsehoods, but short on talent, experience or skill.
I got into this mess by listening to some of my friends not able to get refunds from a Motivational Speaker from OC that I used to know really well. Their lives were impacted because he took their money. I know of another lady who spent $16k on workshop and “founder” materials, and she wound up nearly getting a divorce. She spent it all on credit cards, reasoning that she would earn it back without her husband ever knowing the money was gone. This is why they signed up. The instructor made representations that the students would earn multiples.
Brooks Institute of Photography just went through a class action for “persuading prospective students to enroll by “willfully misleading” them, “falsifying and omitting critical information.”. This lawsuit eventually cost the school $12.5 million.
In many ways, what Brooks got nailed for was similar to most workshop claims today. I think I have a way to protect yourself. Have them fill out the application (attached) and get your copy signed before attending the workshop.
An “implied” claim is not the same as a “stated” claim. In a “stated” claim if the photographer states that you will increase your income, that is a stated claim. If you signed up because of this claim (e.g. make more money) then an attorney may have a “Brooks Institute” field day. If they say they probably won’t give you skills to increase your business, why go? Please pass this on as I’m interested in your thoughts!