Warning: Bizarre Things Happen When You Cross Paths with Model Julia Hamilton
It took me over a month to finally come to the boiling point to write this. I wanted to put it behind me and move on, but I keep getting new messages about what this individual is doing to my name and my professional reputation in this industry, so I choose not to protect hers by keeping it all to myself.
You’d think we are all in this industry for the love of beauty and the arts, but apparently, some people have other goals and uncommon ways of achieving them – they prefer to lie and scam just to get some freebies.
There are four main reasons why I am convinced I must share this publicly:
1. Because I feel responsible for letting my colleagues, modeling agencies and other people and companies in the beauty industry risk falling victim to a scam crafted by this individual if I don’t warn them;
2. Because I made the mistake of not warning the folks in the beauty industry about this individual in the past, effectively enabling her to do what she does now;
3. Because she continues to go around badmouthing me, while I am the one who had to hire a lawyer to stop her from using my name and reputation in her scamming;
4. Because if a legal letter from my attorney did not stop her, I don’t know what else will, and the industry folks need to be aware of her.
I’ll try to make it as short as possible, and share the facts that I have, so you can decide for yourself how you would like to proceed should you happen to cross paths with this individual.
Seriously, her actions are so bizarre that it would even be entertaining, if it wasn’t so damaging.
Last summer I was planning a collaboration shoot with my colleague Lupe Moreno, and as I received a few products from Dr Brandt – a Florida-based skincare brand – this shoot was going to be all about skincare.
Julia Hamilton, a Los Angeles-based model at the time, wanted to shoot and we invited her for our skincare collaboration shoot with Dr Brandt.
We shot a set of beauty images, and the skincare brand loved them so much, they immediately booked us for an actual commercial campaign.
Later I wrote a blog post on how I prepare for skincare shoots, at the time using the images that we shot during that collaboration shoot: PLANNING & PREPARING FOR A SKINCARE CAMPAIGN. I replaced the images of her in that post since, and you will understand why soon.
The CEO and the Content Director of the brand traveled from Miami, FL to Los Angeles, CA for our commercial campaign, which was going to be 2 days long and involved 6 models of various skin tones and ethnicities. It was my biggest campaign shoot for a Sephora brand at the time, so we had planned out every single hour of those 2 days of shooting.
What happened then, you can find out in this blog post: COULD THIS DISASTER AT MY VERY IMPORTANT PHOTO SHOOT HAVE BEEN AVOIDED? In short, Julia H. simply did not show at her call time, did not pick up her phone and my team found her Snapchat from the night before – she was out partying until 3am, while her call time for the campaign was 9am. She was in touch with me for a few weeks leading to the shoot, so it wasn’t that the date just slipped her mind. She had the call sheet, was fully confirmed for the day and time and it seemed was very excited for it.
Why she chose to go out the night before her big job for a Sephora skincare brand? I have no clue.
I cannot even begin to explain how crushed I was on that day, realizing that the top management of this brand travelled across the country for this shoot and we ruined it. Yes, it was not me nor my creative team, and we clearly had no control of that model’s actions, but it did not matter at that point – working with us was going to be a bad experience for the client, period.
Later that day, Julia H. began texting me how she went to bed early, but slept through her alarm, but I told her to cut the BS because we saw her Snapchat. In a polite way, I made it clear that I never wanted to have anything to do with her.
Looking back at that incident, I realize now that I made a mistake by not revealing her name in that blog post. I should have done it right then.
In May 2017, Julia H. suddenly started posting my images of her from that test shoot, making her captions sound as if those were the actual commercial campaign images for Dr Brandt.
I reached out to her via DM on Instagram and requested that she changed her deceptive captions. She did, but in a way that it was still misleading, then she stopped responding to my messages.
I let it go. Clearly, she was trying to make herself look good for her new clients and everyone else who checks her IG page. I just did not realize at the time WHY she started sharing my work all of a sudden after everything that happened last summer.
She continued posting our images in the following week or two intentionally omitting or “breaking” the tags, so my team and I would not be notified about those posts. I attempted to communicate to her via DM again, but she intentionally continued doing this:
Now, I want you to understand, that I personally paid studio rent for that test photoshoot, my team and I bought a ton of props, and spent a full day on that shoot; and then I also spent many many hours retouching it, making her look as beautiful as you see in the resulting images. She even requested to retouch some images because her agent loved them, and I did that for her, absolutely free of charge of course and despite of my already busy schedule.
Imagine how it felt after all of that and then her nearly ruining my first big commercial campaign.
All things considered, her obnoxious behavior was really maddening, and as much as I hated spreading the negativity, I posted a warning about her on my Instagram Story (click to enlarge):
Not surprisingly, in response to my IG Story I received a few emails similar to this:
Little did I know, this was NOTHING compared to what she was already doing at that time.
HER WELL-CRAFTED SCAMMING LETTERS
Only a week later, through a series of bizarre events I found out that everything I had seen from this…. ahem, unique model, was just child games compared to what I had not yet known.
There was an incomprehensive amount of lies that people who got sucked into her scamming activities shared with me. Everyone was in utter disbelief, but I’ll omit all of the little and big lies and share with you the letter from my attorney and her own letter to one of her victims, so you can understand why I am convinced it is important that I share this with everyone who may have a chance to cross paths with this individual.
Keep in mind, there were a few scamming emails that she had sent out to different business owners, including skincare and jewelry companies, before she got caught.
A skincare company, which she put a lot of thought and effort into attempting to scam, shipped $480USD worth of their products to her (they were able to re-route it after they contacted me and the other photographer who, according to Julia H., was supposed to shoot it, after “I got booked up and couldn’t shoot it anymore”).
You will find one of her well-crafted scammy letters as an example in the Exhibit A below:
She attached all of the images I photographed and retouched of her to her emails. She also linked to my own blog post about shooting skincare campaigns, in which I still had her images at the time, as well as the link to the Dropbox folder that I created for her and Dr Brandt folks with the images from that test shoot.
I felt like an idiot when I received a copy of her scammy email from one of her victims – she used my name, my work, my own blog and my Dropbox folder to scam unsuspecting business owners.
Ironically, she sent them the link to the same blog where I also shared a post on how she DID NOT SHOW UP for that commercial campaign, only I did not mention her name then – I thought she was just a young girl who made a silly mistake, and it was not worth ruining her chances in the industry… I was too naive.
FOOL ME ONCE
Now that you had a glimpse into what this individual is capable of, I want to warn you that you will never think she could do any of this if you happen to meet her in person.
Everyone who got sucked into her scamming scheme said that she was a pretty girl and she spoke in such a nice and calming manner, even a seasoned savvy female business owner got fooled.
If you confront her about any of her lies over the phone (text, DM, email…), she’ll be telling you that she is very sorry, and “she is crying right now because she realizes how bad everything looks, but she did not mean any of it.”
She is so polite and apologetic, everyone softens up hearing her sobby stories, and that’s exactly how she gets away with the unethical and illegal things she does.
If you are a decent person, who does not feel comfortable when hearing about flat out lies, let alone lying to anyone for no good reason or with the intentions of gaining something, you may think that this is already as bad as it gets. Well, not with Julia Hamilton.
In May 2017, a San Francisco-based makeup artist whom I don’t know in person, messaged me right around the time when I had just found out about Julia H.’s scam. These are some excerpts from what he told me. I am blurring out his name and his profile picture, just to keep him out of it, even though I have his permission to share this:
And these are just the instances I know of, who knows what other words or promises she has been putting in my mouth when communicating with people in the industry?!
THE MORAL OF THE STORY
One would think that after my attorney threatened her with a lawsuit and she complied with our demands, she’d stop, right? Well, a normal person would.
This morning I received a message from my colleague whose friend, a Miami-based beauty photographer, recently photographed Julia Hamilton.
Besides other things, this is what my colleague passed on to me: “At our shoot, she [Julia H.] referred to Kuzmenko as a “bitch” several times.”
So, as you can see, even the legal letter and a possible lawsuit cannot stop this individual, therefore to prevent her from going around dirtying my name in the industry that I intend to continue working in, I am sharing this in hopes to also make this a good case study for everyone in our industry.
A few things that we all should learn from this:
- A lesson for everyone: This industry is small, even on a scale of a large country like the United States, and all big and small lies will be discovered quicker than the liar may hope for.
- A lesson for business owners: All photo and video production discussions, especially when you are sending a lot of free product to the team, should be held with a producer or the photographer you are collaborating with, NOT with a model you never met.
- A lesson for photographers: We must share this type of information with each other, so we stop individuals like this from hurting more people and businesses. Please share this with your colleagues if you work in the United States. As you can see, Julia H. moves from one big city to another and you don’t want to become her next victim like myself or the business owners that she attempted to scam.
- A lesson for models: There isn’t really any, except for THANK YOU to every single model that I have ever worked with for being decent human beings, unlike this one model that I had the misfortune of knowing.
- A lesson for modeling agencies: Maybe it makes sense to check on a model’s reputation, if she is someone who had been previously dropped by other agencies – there must be a good reason for that. Do you really want her unethical actions to be dirtying your name and the reputation of your agency?
And before I sign off, I want to ask you to share this page with your colleagues – photographers, modeling agencies and makeup artists.
Be careful and don’t be too trusting, there are people who will take advantage of it.