1. Photo shoots aren’t always as glamorous as they seem
Glancing at my modelling portfolio or social media, you probably think I spend my days frolicking around in pretty dresses at wonderful locations. (Ok, so sometimes I do) But MOSTLY I experience a combination of some/all of the following:
-Early starts and long working hours often wearing heels all day (Ouch)
-Trying to find the shoot location whilst struggling with a bag of clothes bigger than myself
-Getting changed in random (often public) locations
-Wearing clothes/shoes that don’t always fit but trying to make them look good
-Bracing the harsh English weather conditions (It’s snowing but in my head it’s Summer)
-Using muscles I’ve never used to hold poses that probably shouldn’t exist
-Being stared at by the general public who often fancy themselves as photographers too
-Trying ignore all the above and keep smiling in the hope the photos will be worth it in the end.
2. We like to eat… especially unhealthy food
I remember I once was on a photo shoot with a couple of other models and the photographer said to the designer, ‘Shall we grab the models some lunch?’ And the designer replied, ‘No, they’re models. They don’t eat.’ What’s shocking is it wasn’t even a joke. It was a statement. Anyone who knows me knows that I love CHOCOLATE. And PIZZA. So don’t assume that because I’m a model, I don’t indulge sometimes. (Or eat at all it may seem!)
3. We have had to develop thick skin
I’ve been to separate castings on the same day only to be told I’m too fat at one and too thin at the other. If someone said that to somebody in any other working environment there’s no way they’d get away with it! That’s the fashion industry for you. It can be brutal. The first time you’re told you’re ‘too anything’ it can feel like a slap in the face and can make even the toughest model want to reconsider their career choice. After a while though you learn that although it’s not right for someone to say those things, it’s just the business and you don’t take it personally anymore. You win some, you lose some.
4. We still get body hang-ups
Just like everyone else, us models have things we don’t like about our bodies. We work in an industry where we are solely based on our looks so of course we are going to be self-critical. The difference is that we are masters of learning what angles and poses suit us in photographs – it’s our job. (Don’t forget the final images you see of us have probably been retouched to make us look at our best too!)
5. We get weird messages & requests
I often get people emailing me with their bizarre modelling requests or asking how much I would charge to model nude for them. To those people: If you can’t even provide the basic minimum of a link to your photography work I’m not even going to pretend I’m interested in being involved in your fetish fantasy shoot. #sorrynotsorry
6. We don’t normally get to keep the clothes we model
We secretly want you to think we have a walk-in wardrobe with racks of free designer clothes like Kim Kardashian but the truth is unless we are doing a gifted collaboration with a brand, that pretty dress we wore in that photo went straight back to the designer after the shoot.
7. We don’t necessarily want to be photographed all the time
Ok, so we know our job is to be in front of the camera but when we’re backstage getting changed, having hair and make-up done or on our lunch break we don’t always want to be snapped. It’s our down time. It’s cool to get some behind-the-scenes shots but we’d really appreciate it if you’d just ask for our permission first! 🙂 (When we get tagged in stuff on social media it’s out there forever.)
8. There’s a lot of waiting involved
Whether it’s waiting in line to be seen by a casting director, waiting for a call from our agent or waiting backstage to walk for our next catwalk show, patience is key to being a good model. We wait for hair and makeup to be done, the photographer to set up, our clothes to be steamed, even the weather to change sometimes! After the shoot, the wait isn’t over and it’s then that all important wait for the photographer to send you the photos!
9. We have another source of income
Whether we all admit it or not most models have a second job. We are technically self-employed and sometimes we can’t find modelling work every day of the week. We also do unpaid shoots to keep our profile up but having lots of pretty photos doesn’t pay the bills! You’ll find that the majority of models make money in other areas of the creative industry. E.g. As a photographer, dancer, actor, musician, writer, artist or so on.
10. There are highs and lows
I’ve experienced the highs… worked with top brands and photographers, modelled at amazing locations and got to see my face on magazine covers, billboards and buses but between all the excitement and success I have experienced many lows as a model. Here are a few I’ve personally experienced:
I was told I was booked for a big campaign and then replaced by another model last minute
Been body shamed on many occasions
Had someone steal and use my photos for their personal benefit (Catfishing)
Been refused to be credited for my work in the media because I’m ‘just a model’
Been scammed by fake talent agencies / model scouts
Modelled for a photographer for free then was refused any photos afterwards
Been photo shopped to look like a completely different person so much so that I can’t use the photos
Chased up missing payments from clients who use images before they pay the models for their time
I could go on but I want to end on a good note… Despite the negative experiences I’ve had, I always remind myself that the highs I have experienced have greatly outweighed the lows. I believe that to be a successful model it requires perseverance and a good sense of humour as you’re meeting new people every day and working in new (sometimes difficult) environments. But that’s what I love about what I do – every day is different! And as a result, I have so many stories to tell! If I can go through life focusing on my achievements, accomplishments and goals for the future, I hope to have a long and happy modelling career ahead of me. 🙂
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