We are often reluctant to admit we were duped out of shame and embarrassment. Hallmark counts on this to keep the ruse alive. This money machine at Hallmark institute of photography has discovered a profitable and carefully crafted system of misrepresentation. How they do this can only be seen from the inside. I am a 2005 graduate. I was on the inside. But let me be clear. I made a mistake and fell for it by not fact checking the grand statistics that were laid out before me. This was my first mistake. I relied on my intake advisor to give me the numbers and state of the market. He quoted on line job compilation sites and fewer than a half dozen direct contacts. I later discovered No Hallmark job pipeline was set up or available and still doesn’t exist to this day. Was it their responsibility to find me a job? No. But certainly not to mislead and interpret stats to their advantage. Nothing illegal but very unethical. A “job fair” was promised at the end of the year. It turned out to be two companies with five jobs total for a class of 120. Job fair as promised? Yes. Ethical? No. And too late to be outraged. | The 90% employment claimed is still a mystery to me. You leave hallmark with a “pseudo” business of an operational website, business cards, portfolio, and business plan. So technically you are self employed as you leave. Illegal? No. Unethical to call this employed? Yes. The one year questionnaire of your work status sent out is not a legal document and is not fact checked for your actual work status. Also not illegal. Just convenient for bolstering stats and covering any pesky outside audits. Although not a definitive way to verify statistics I went online to check on grads status going back 30 years using the Hallmark credo that your website is your lifeline to the world. I discovered that average active websites of the grads from each class from 1975 to 2000 were only 20% But in 2011 only 20% of 2005’s grads were web active. It in no way means they were still not employed by another entity. But makes it hard to determine if they are active in the field. Another ruse that is used to draw you in are success stories of images from grads landing in national publications and such. I say ruse because I would question the recognition of a photo in a national magazine as proof positive that the grad is “making a living” with his or her efforts. To say they are working? Technically yes. Ethically no. Hallmark has no more means of checking a work status than you or I. And they make no effort to do so. The overall success rate to remain in photography as a living was wildly exaggerated. It takes five years for a business to succeed. And another five to build momentum and profit. Hallmark was and still is out of touch with the real world of photography. But is always rubbing shoulders with the glitz and glamour to catch the unwary and naive. Let me be clear about what “making a living” means in photography. Your sole income must come from those labors. Not dipping into savings or living off of other funds to pay expenses or support your photography business. | “Working” in photography encompasses everything else. So for Hallmark to say your working in photography is technically correct when you send back your work status form stating your position in the field. Are you making a living? Ask the 20%. There’s your answer.
This review (Hallmark Institute of Photography) was originally published at Skeptic Files.
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