INDUSTRY WARNING: Consider Not Working With Photographer Tony Le-Britton
*Update: After this story was shared, a few creatives have shared their experiences with me and I am glad (but also sad) that I was not alone.
I would highly recommend avoid working with photographer Tony Le-Britton, unless you would like to work with someone who has used other people’s images as his own in the past, and to potentially not be paid as I still haven't been.
The Short Story:
Tony has been allegedly caught stealing and using other photographer’s work as his own. He has also not paid myself and another retoucher for over a year! I don't know who else he has screwed over so I am speaking out in hopes that he doesn't do this to anyone else. This post is meant for no other reason than to let others know what happened to me and Whitney Minthorn.
The Long Story:
Just today, August 20th, industry retoucher Natalia Taffarel sent me a message to warn me about Tony. I am so glad she did. The message from Dana Cole showcased photographers he had stolen from and claimed as his work. This shocked me because he had used those images Dana mentioned as his own. Sadly, I did not get a screen shot because it was taken down after he was called out immediately but Dana attested to it. However, below where I post my conversations, you'll see him using one of the offending images as his display photo and in the magazine his interview was featured in (SalonNY).
Just after Natalia's message, I saw my friend Dana Cole post an alleged warning to all creatives about him including the images and the photographers he stole from:
The image on the left actually belongs to Yu Tsai!
Here are all the links from the others that Dana saw on his website.
As you can see below, here is one instance he has used the photo of Yu Tsai in published pieces.
The article further goes to Interview Tony over that image. The magazine says:
"It's a method that works for Tony and his significant success has seen him chosen to shoot covers for names as glamorous as Elle and Vogue, with one in particular catching our eye - Vogue Beauty in Thailand."
As you know, it wasn't shot by Tony, it was shot by Yu Tsai as shown above.
He continues to say:
"That was a collection for Vogue on must-have beauty products. Why shoot them as they're supposed to be? Why not make it a striking image that stops people and then they read the information about the product."
As you can see, he has used the work of others, but also made up the story of shooting it.
After being called out, he blocked everyone that called him out and immediately deleted the stolen images off his site and social media.
This is what inspired me to go public about my story.
I never take on new clients unless payment is completed first prior to working together, or at least 50%. With Tony, we had worked together on a couple of jobs in the past and he did pay. So I didn't think much of it when he asked for help on a commercial hair campaign. He seemed to be working on a regular basis on big jobs. Usually on massive jobs, payment usually comes within 30 to 60 days.
No one has ever not paid me before for a big job like this. I feel very fortunate because I recently had made a post asking how much money creatives were never paid for. Some of the answers ranged in the 10's of thousands. However, the more we spread awareness, the more we can help others. I will be seeking legal means of obtaining wages owed from this one experience.
Well, a month goes by after our job and I ask about payment. As you can see, they also loved the images (and are still using it on their website at the time of posting this post).
You can see where this is going. Below this entire story, I'll post screen shots from his other "reasons" that span an entire year of excuses.
Around November, I get a message from retoucher Whitney Minthorn out of sheer coincidence, asking me about Tony. It seems he was playing with him as well. And amazingly, the first image is one I also worked one along with the rest of the ones on their website. I will be asking the company whether or not payment was made to Tony on their behalf.
These messages below are just the snippets from our conversation, with date stamps. He gave him the same kind of run around. I even gave Tony the benefit of the doubt as we had worked together in the past. I had been extremely patient.
Below are screen shots from Whitney's conversations with him going forward.
As you can see, he's not getting anything.
Below, are screen shots from my conversation with Tony along a similar time frame. Tony did not know Whitney and I both knew what was going on. We're looking to see what our options are now. However, we just want to warn others before they fall into the same situation.
This is just my opinion, and that is, I would avoid working with Tony if you ever have the chance.
*This issue is currently being investigated, and no legal decisions have been reached. No comments herein are to be taken as assertions of guilt until proven after due legal processes.