Having been blogging for a very long time, and actually long before I started fashion blogging, I’m used to weird emails. I’ve gotten requests to wear plaid shirts for a man’s private collection of women wearing plaid shirts, I’ve gotten requests from a man who wanted me to send him all of my old dirty worn out shoes, I’ve gotten requests to post more tights outfits, and a lot of offers to help me improve my blog in every way you can imagine. And once, a picture of me (fully clothed) pregnant was posted to a very specific and kind of nasty site, but it was taken down after it was brought to my attention. So, basically, I’ve just had all kinds. But this week I got a new kind of email, which I would normally have ignored but… I have a curious mind and I couldn’t leave it alone.
And, it’s been a very long time since I’ve posted about weird internet encounters on my blog, but I have to. Because I need to know if you’ve ever encountered stuff like this, and also perhaps if you’ve ever encountered this specific person, and also if I am completely wrong in my assumptions of what this person really is. I don’t want to give anyone fears about blogging, though; the weird ones are generally easily ignored, and have been few in number. And nothing blatantly gross. Yet.
So, here is the entire email transcript from the very beginning. No edits or censoring or fudging with words, and some commentary so you know why I responded and what was going on behind the responses.
“Hi Kristina how are you! I am Nan goldin a photographer and found your blog today and wanted to send you much needed praise!
I found you on Bloglovin and cannot believe you don’t have a ton of followers! You do something in a photographer eyes is right on and that’s the use of nature. So many bloggers do the alone thing on sidewalks, streets and empty city thing which I and mt fellow photographers just don’t understand at all! So please don’t stop and keep doing what you are doing! Love your style!
Kristina I have been looking and advising and even coaching bloggers for alittle over 6 years now which I truly enjoy, and I see some things I could help you with as well if you would be open to talking to me. I would be a pleasure to work with you if interested!
I responded to this email because it seemed very sweet. At this point I had no idea who Nan Goldin was (read the wiki page here) and just assumed this was a very nice person, and I am always open to advice or critique when it is sincere and not, you know, snarky or fake.
Thank you for the compliments; I photograph in nature out of necessity, being as it’s all my yard. As a stay-at-home mom of two, I have to utilize my kids’ naptimes to take photos, so I can’t go far! Thankfully, we live in a pretty area and our yard is really lovely for photos. I think many fashion bloggers live in the city, thus why they photograph on sidewalks and streets; it’s what they have, just as nature scenery is simply what I have at hand!
Thanks for the offer; I’d love to know what you think I could improve upon. I’m always looking to do whatever I can (limited as it is, since I take my own photos and am not often able to move away from my home to do so) to improve my blog, even though it’s simply a fun hobby for me. It brings me joy to share my life and style with others!
Also, I saw your invitation to connect on Linkedin, but I don’t think I have an account and if I do, I haven’t used it in a long time. I don’t think it’d be useful to me. Just so you know, I’m not ignoring the invite! I just don’t think it would be useful to me — my husband uses Linkedin for our photography business, but he’s better at managing that than I am.
Have a wonderful day!”
After responding, I Googled Nan Goldin Photography, as one does if one is a photographer being offered advice by another photographer, and discovered that Nan is a fairly well established person with work primarily focused on LGBT and things like that. And that’s when I got suspicious.
Thank you so much for replying and very nice to meet you!
I love the nature shots much better than someone standing alone in in a city with no one around like they are the only one’s on earth…Haha
Just never could grasp that concept myself.
Kristina I need to know just one thing before we start, I need to know more about Kristina real style please? I understand with young kids sweats are on…Lol but when you go to town to getting a night out with the husband ect.Please be very honest.
Tell me what you think is a woman’s most loved accessory ?
As far for the blog in your post, picture count! I think you need to go to twelve pictures in each post so you can cover everything to show your followers which you are not doing.
Can you consider this please? If you say yes then I will share with you what I think you need to show ok.
Lets start here and will await your answers then we will go from there. ok
PS I will never ask you to leave the back yard ok!
I see alot of pinup looks?”
At this point, my skepticism radar was at full blast. What professional artistic and famous photographer asks a random blogger what her real style is, and what she thinks women love best for accessories? What does that even have to do with photography and improving one’s blog?
I’m sure they shoot in empty streets so as not to impede traffic or bother anyone! I find them interesting sometimes; city life must be nice at least for the variety you can find for backgrounds. But, I do like nature a lot.
What you see on my blog IS my real style; I wear a lot of vintage in 1940’s and 50’s style, up through to the 70’s, and anything I post is something I’ve worn in real life. Date nights I’ll more likely wear a dress than a skirt and top, and have my hair down and curled since it feels a bit fancier. But, what you see is what I wear! I wouldn’t really consider it pinup; I think pinup is a more aggressive and specific aesthetic, whereas what I wear is very practical 50’s, perhaps what a housewife then would REALLY have worn. And, being a mom, it has to be practical and washable!
I’m not much of an accessories person myself, but I’d say most women probably love purses. For me, I’m currently in love with wearing a brooch; I have quite a collection.
And, lately I haven’t been posting my normal amount of images but if you look back I do actually usually share between 8-12 photos; I share as many as I liked from that shoot and as many as works with what I have to say in the post. I agree that more is usually good, though, and I’ve been thinking lately about adding variety to my shots.
Just to go off-subject a bit, I was looking through some of your work and I really admire it! The Eden and After series is so special. How did you decide to go about that? I’m so flattered that someone as well-known as you would take time to help me out!”
I was talking to Skye right before I responded, and that last paragraph was a little bit of bait/a window for this person to back out and differentiate herself from Nan Goldin, or to further cement the illusion. At this point I had also found what looks to be a more believably real Linkedin profile for Nan. I was wondering if perhaps they would respond (they, because I don’t know if it’s really a woman, or a man masquerading as Nan) that they were a different Nan Goldin as their Linkedin profile also stated Photographer… but uses the Wiki picture of Nan as themselves.
Thank you so much for the kind words! The thought came up when a close friend had her first child and I was exposed to child birth for the very first time so why not put it in pictures from the very start. I don’t have any children and if you looked me up, I had a rough childhood and too me kids were alittle strange so to speak, so thats where the idea came from but today I do not think that away at all as I love kids! I am not famous ok, just another woman that puts her heels on like any other woman and I enjoy helping people with their blogs as a way of giving back what photography has given to me!
The number one accessories the world and always will be is shoes!…Lol Women love shoes and want to see shoes. So tell me your style in shoes please? Heels? flats? I seen some heels in some of your post so get ready to break them out ok…Lol Now I want to help you in the higher fashion side of you, not the casual if thats ok.
Do you consider yourself a girly girl or very feminine woman? I think so myself!
I love your style and do not want to change that and this is your blog Kristina, I will be a silent adviser so to speak.
Can we agree on 12 photos from this point on please?
What type of camera do you use?
Kids really are great!
I was under the impression that you were more interested in helping me improve my blogging/photography (as a photographer yourself) and not my actual style. I’m quite happy with the way I dress and I don’t particularly want to make changes towards “high fashion” choices as I have to be practical as a mom of two young kids. And, since I try to post what I wear daily, that means practical outfits with lower heels or flats and not really high fashion. Sorry for the miscommunication!
I have done some reading around recently that suggests many readers of blogs tend to prefer post with between 5-10 photos so as not to overwhelm them with so many images that it gets repetitive! But I do want to create more variation in my shots, and then I will probably include more images — as it is right now, I don’t want to have 12 of basically the same photo, so I only use photos that are significant enough to create variation in the post as I write! From reading forums on blogging and professional blogger tips, I think that’s really the way to go, with 12 being the maximum photos that people seem to be interested in. I’d love to know why you think 12 is the best number? And what bloggers you’ve influenced in the past? I’ve just got a curious and analytical mind and I like to know the reasoning behind the advice that I consider. It’s really great that you are reaching out to help other women with the content they put out!
I use a Canon 60D with a variation of lenses, the 50mm being my favorite. ”
At this point, my “shoe fetishist” suspicions were very very strong and I was doing my best to get some background information from this person. I’ve gotten fetishists quite a few times via email or Instagram, and having a well-known photographer (supposedly) move the conversation of improving my blog right to shoes just struck a very blatant fetishistic chord.
I do not want to change your style at all, just make your post in your style alittle more interesting and real. Photography is all about telling a story in a photograph. I want to give you themes when you do a post to show your followers and making it fit in your backyard. The public loves to see fashion where it has no place. So seeing your post in your yard is what brought me to you to offer some advise that;s all. There is nothing in it for me but watching you and your blog grow and hope you enjoy the ride as well.
I like 12 photos as this gives us enough room to make sure all bases are covered on showing all of your look. I know there are forums and professional bloggers and this is why I have made my commitment to change as if you have read up on me I am kind of a lose cannon so to speak, but it has worked for me as I think outside the box and like to work with bloggers that want the same thing. So my question to you Kristina is do you want to take the advise from the forums and professionals or do you want to trust me and take a chance? Completely up to you.
Do you have any lens filters for your Cannon? Filters will help on any camera.
By this last email, I was coming up blank on how to call this person out as a fake, and decided to end it. But unlike my normal self — which is to be short and polite in dismissing people like this, as I don’t want to incite angry responses — I felt the need to elaborate and explain why I had even entertained a conversation so long.
Sweater, skirt, heels, belt, brooch, and scarf, thrifted | tights, Target
Well, thanks for the offer but I’m happy with my personal style, and it already is real style, so I’m not sure how you could help make it any more real. Pushing it towards high fashion and “fashion where it has no place” does nothing but make it unrealistic, which is not what I want to do. My blogging is just a hobby for me, and while I do love meeting new subscribers and seeing it grow, I don’t have plans to make it anything more than a fun space where I share my life and my daily outfits. I don’t really want it to become anything more than what it already is, to be honest. I’m always open to actual advice or criticism on ways that I might improve my photography in and of itself on a technical level, but my personal style is going to stay where it is unless I decide I want to change it.
And, while I have found it quite interesting to talk to you, I must confess I had ulterior motives in continuing these emails – primarily, to assess whether you were actually Nan Goldin or not. I’m fairly certain it’s the latter. As nice as it is to think a well-established photographer might choose to randomly email bloggers and offer them advice and help, I highly doubt that my blogging aesthetic is one the actual Nan Goldin would choose, seeing as how her work primarily focuses on LGBT and abstract qualities, neither of which my blog has. As well, so much of Nan’s photography is indoors with the use of techniques that I don’t use — flash, filters, strong contrasts, nudity, abstract viewpoints, harsh reality — and our photography styles do not meld at all. While her viewpoint is interesting and real in a different, hard way, it’s not something I want my blog to evolve into.
Furthermore, seeing as she has no website for herself, I cannot imagine she would spend her time scrolling through fashion blogs on Bloglovin’. It seems highly uncharacteristic from what I’ve read about her and what I can find in various interviews and articles about her.
Lastly, I apologize if I am wrong, but since there’s really nothing you can do to prove you are her aside from showing up at my door in the flesh, I have to point out that I would hope a well-established, cultured, and semi-famous photographer such as Nan would have much better writing skills than whomever you are. The grammar, punctuation, and spelling in your emails has been questionable for someone whose first language is English and who, I assume, would at least use Google spellcheck to catch errors before sending them out. Not everyone uses perfect grammar and punctuation, which I understand, but someone who has to be in the public eye for her works and whose emails could at any point be publicized would surely take more care in how she writes and what she says.
Your focus on shoes and wanting me to wear high heels has led me to believe most likely you’re a shoe fetishist using a false identity from a person who does not have a personal online presence, thus no way to contact and verify the reality of the emails, to lure unsuspecting bloggers into sharing more photos of what you want them to share to satisfy your own desires.
Having been blogging for more years than you claim to have been coaching bloggers, I’ve had enough emails from false identities and fetishists to be very, very skeptical of any emails I get from “professionals” offering me advice that involves wearing things I don’t wear often enough to satisfy their own desires. And again, my very sincere apologies if you really are Nan Goldin, but since you have no way to prove it, I don’t think there is anything more to do than cease these emails and continue on with our respective lives.
So, thank you for the interesting discourse, whomever you are, but I’m quite happy with my style and how “real” my blog is, and I don’t want to change it for anyone but myself. If you have any actual photography advice to give me, I’m always willing to listen. But I will not be pushing my style towards high fashion, I’ll continue wearing whatever shoes I want to wear, and I’ll post what photos I want to post — photos that look good, not simply photos that meet an arbitrary number that really has no grounds as proof of good blogging in a professional world. I don’t really have any desire to take random advice from a stranger on the internet over professional advice from people who have blogged for many years and found certain methods to work well.
Have a wonderful life!”
And that’s all. I predict I’ll either receive a defensive response with this person trying to prove that they are the real Nan, an angry one that I would respond that they are faking it, or none at all. I’ll update if/when I do get a response.
What do you think, guys? Have you ever gotten emails from people who choose famous identities for their charades? Did I overreact? I honestly tried to make my last response as polite as possible, because I don’t feel there is any cause to be rude to anyone no matter how odd or fake they are, but at the same time… it makes me angry when people take advantage of others. When shoe fetishists get away with lewd and inappropriate behavior, when men think it’s okay to request any woman to wear something for his own pleasure — unless they’re in a relationship, yo — when people pretend to be someone else to get something from or take advantage of a stranger.
If this person is really Nan Goldin, then I really am sorry. But if this person is masquerading in order to manipulate me into posting what they want to see for their own pleasure, then absolutely not. It’s inappropriate, and it happens all too often for me to let yet another one get away thinking I’m fooled into believing them.
Happy weird Friday!
UPDATE: I finally went to check the IP address of the emails I’d been getting. THey were from California. The real Nan lives in New York. Then, a few more bloggers reached out and Lizzy from Lizzy’s Latest managed to get in touch with a few people who know Nan Goldin and confirmed that this is definitely an impostor. So there you have it! If anyone named Nan Goldin should reach out to you, please let me know because I am so fascinated by this weirdness!