In general, I’m of the ‘whatever floats your boat’ camp. If you have an unusual lifestyle, that’s cool as long as nobody gets hurt. If you have an odd opinion or two, again I’m okay with that as long as you don’t push it on me or interfere with other people (e.g. gay rights).
BUT… (yep, always a but)… you know what really grinds my gears? When an article is written with the clear intention of being subversive or shocking while full of wrong facts, opinions presented as facts, and then presented as an ‘inside view’ of ‘what really goes on’ in somebody’s world or lifestyle. It not only makes me procrastinate (that book isn’t going to write itself!) but could risk damaging reputations. For example: THIS article here, written by that prolific journalist “Anonymous.” (That Anonymous- s/he really gets around!)
Now, I know it’s meant to be a ‘confessional’ piece and therefore it’s one person’s experience, but it is very interestingly presented as though this is the sad reality of the nude modelling industry. Let’s pick it to pieces…
The scene is set by taking you- the reader- right there to the centre of the action and adorning the paragraph with words like ‘terrifying’ and ‘sweaty’. “Loosen up”, says the patient photographer. Did he also rub his knees and purr “oh yeah, baby- you’re gonna be a STAR!”?
‘Anonymous’ was a twenty year old student when she first ‘took her clothes off for money’. Apparently, this may seem sordid- well, it certainly does now! Even more so as she introduces us to her friend ‘Tania’ (a pseudonym) who made some money “art modelling” for photographers. I wonder if it was a deliberate attempt to be bitchy, or a way of keeping Tania’s modesty by putting the words in quotation marks… Either way, the writer takes great pains to let us know that she was desperate for money.
First myth: While many girls may start by looking for some quick money, they learn very fast that modelling is not as easy as it looks and when you’re one in thousands of pretty girls, you need to stand out and take the time to either learn your trade or give up. One gripe I hear from photographers concerns girls who do two photoshoots and then try to charge £100 per hour. Often, the girls are misled- somebody has told them that they can earn hundreds from one shoot and so off they go- after all, if you’re doing it for money, you want to maximise your earnings, right? However, if you’re earning enough to make a consistent full-time living from this industry, you have most likely spent a considerable amount of time networking, practising posing, taking care of yourself and building up a client base. Though I could be wrong, as our friend ‘Anonymous’ says “I learned the tricks of the trade within a few weeks.”
So she joined Modelmayhem- good move. Networking sites are invaluable for getting a career started, though I’m not sure how she discerned which clients were “men with lucrative jobs who were willing to invest heavily in their ‘new photography hobby’”. There are those speech marks again…
“Despite this, I didn’t stop. The money was too good. After a while I raised my rate to $100/hour. Between interning, writing papers, and extra-curricular activities, I believed that I had no other choice if I wanted to be financially secure.” This sentence worries me for it tends to appear in tearful articles with names like “I was a teenage prostitute”. Now, I think we should do what makes us happy. In theory, I have no problem with stripping or porn so long as everyone is keeping safe and there because they want to be. To take on a job like that due to lack of money?? I feel that that is the line between fun and degrading. (And yes, I speak from experience- as a poor student myself, I walked out of an interview at a lapdancing club. I couldn’t do it- I preferred to work in a sandwich shop for less money and retain my dignity*).
*NOTE: I felt undignified because it passed my personal boundaries- not because of the nature of the work.
Poor ‘Anonymous’ regarded her body as a money making tool, which included keeping her hair long and not shaving her pubic hair. Why? “Most people don’t believe me when I say this, but a nude art model getting a Brazilian bikini wax is career suicide”.
I don’t believe you.
Yes, if being unshaven is your USP (unique selling point), then yes it may be a bad idea to employ a lady-gardener, but for an established nude model, there is very little that is truly career ending so long as you know how to market yourself, with the exception, possibly maybe, of getting a large tattoo.
Now, I’ll be the first to tell you that the more people you work with, the greater the chance of having a bad experience. It happens, sadly, but rarely. If you’re a regular follower of this blog, you’ll have heard it all before from me- there are ways to minimise your chances of such a thing. Our writer mentions the photographers who wanted to pay her for sex. Call it a hunch, but I feel that there’s a way she could have kept such propositions to a minimum. I never mentioned it due to the possibility of stating the obvious but…
Don’t have sex with photographers!!! Especially (and she quotes) “numerous photographers”. Models talk, photographers talk, stylists talk and iin the words of all those wartime posters, “careless talk costs lives”. Now, talk about career suicide! While it may increase your chances of being booked, it’ll be for the wrong reasons and the ‘mostly creeps’ statement will take on a knee-rubbing, purring life of its’ own- a side-effect being numerous propositions!
Now, when people socialise with other industry professionals on a regular basis, relationships do start (it’s why teachers always seem to marry other teachers!) but unless you’re sure, it’s generally best not to have sex with numerous photographers.
I never thought I’d have to say that!
And so we reach the end of our article, with a consciously poignant moment involving regret and some polaroids in a box. It’s a sad ending. I wish the writer all the best in her chosen path, but hope she can one day look upon her experiences without regret. I’m not claiming to have followed my career path perfectly- I’ve done things that were dumb as a brush, but I hope that when I’m no longer modelling, I will not only have my polaroids in a box but on my wall.
For now though, I’m going to be incredibly subversive and illustrate this ranty little blog with my clothes on!
Have some more pictures from MS-Photography in Berlin, featuring AM-Statik latex. Hair and make-up by me.
I’ve been thinking of this set as ‘Fireflies’- the sun was so, so hot I thought my latex was going to ignite, and though I didn’t see the little dust shafts at the time, I love that they’re here in the finished pictures. Magical!